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Lesson 109: ~나 보다, ~는/ㄴ가 보다

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Vocabulary
Introduction

To guess, think, suppose, to look like: ~는/ㄴ가보다

 

 

Vocabulary

Nouns:
온수 = hot water
욕조 = bathtub
내복 = under-clothes worn in the winter to keep warm
미로 = a maze
탁구대 = ping pong table
휴게실 = resting room, lounge
무더기 = pile, heap of something
자존심 = self esteem

Verbs:
헹구다 = to rinse
갇히다 = to be locked in
담그다 = to soak in
권하다 = to give advice
추정하다 = to estimate
깨뜨리다 = to smash
지적하다 = to point out
수신하다 = to receive a signal
날아가다 = to fly away
헌신하다 = to devote
대피하다 = to evacuate and take shelter
엎다 = to put face down
엎드리다 = to lay face down
엎드러지다 = to fall on one’s face
엎드러뜨리다 = to make one fall on their face

Adjectives:
아쉽다 = for something to be too bad, unfortunate

 

 

Introduction

In this lesson, you will how to attach ~ㄴ가/은가/는가/나 보다 to the end of a sentence. That’s a funny looking grammatical principle, isn’t it? Let’s get started.

.To guess, think, suppose, to look like: ~ㄴ가/은가/는가/나 보다

By attaching ~ㄴ가/은가/는가/나 보다 to words at the end of a sentence, the speaker indicates that the sentence is a guess, and it thought to be true. The way it is attached to words is very interesting, especially to a Korean grammar nerd like me.

~ㄴ가 보다 is attached to 이다 and adjectives where the stem ends in a vowel
여기가 휴게실인가 봐요 = I guess this is the resting room
시험이 어려운가 봐요 = I guess the exam is hard

~은가 보다 is attached to adjectives where the stem ends in a consonant
그 사람이 싫은가 봐요 = I guess he doesn’t like that person

~는가 보다 is attached to all verbs and all versions of 있다 and 없다
온수가 잘 안 나오는가 봐요 = I guess hot water doesn’t really work (come out) well
애기가 지금 욕조에 있는가 봐요 = I guess the baby is in the bathtub
그 학생이 자존심이 없는가 봐요 = I guess that student doesn’t have any self-esteem

Alternatively, ~나 보다 can be attached to 이다, adjectives or verbs.
여기가 휴게실이나 봐요 = I guess this is the resting room
시험이 어렵나 봐요 = I guess the exam is hard
그 사람이 싫나 봐요 = I guess he doesn’t like that person
온수가 잘 안 나오나 봐요 = I guess hot water doesn’t really work (come out) well
애기가 지금 욕조에 있나 봐요 = I guess the baby is in the bathtub
그 학생이 자존심이 없나 봐요 = I guess that student doesn’t have any self-esteem

Some Korean learning sources state different rules for this grammatical principle. In fact, I have gotten many emails over the years claiming that my description of this grammatical principle is incorrect because it goes against other sources. I assure you, those are correct. Are some of the above sentences more common than others? Yes, I will get into that now.

In reality, I would almost always use ~ㄴ/은가 보다 with adjectives and 이다, and ~나 보다 with verbs. This is the common and natural way to do it in Korean, but there is no rule saying you can’t use ~는가 보다 with verbs, 있다 and 없다, and no rule saying you can’t use ~나 보다 with adjectives and 이다. In fact, the ~ㄴ/은/는가  and ~나 are grammatically the same particles that you learned in Lesson 21, where they were used as questions-creating particles.

Another interesting note is that 보다 in these sentences is an adjective. The only practical implication of this is ending the sentence simply as “보다” is grammatically correct, whereas ending it as “본다” would be grammatically incorrect. For example:

시험이 어려운가 보다 – correct
시험이 어려운가 본다 – incorrect

Let’s get into how we can use and distinguish this grammatical principle from other ones you have learned.

In Lesson 35, you learned about using ~ㄹ/을 것 같다 to indicate that something is a guess. Let’s compare ~ㄴ가/은가/는가/나 보다 to that. For example:

시험이 어려울 것 같아요 = The exam is/will probably be hard
시험이 어려운가 봐요 = I guess the exam is hard

In the first sentence using ~ㄹ/을 것 같다, the speaker is mostly guessing based on intuition without any immediate experienced reason. For example, imagine you are a student in a class and the contents of the class are very challenging. Your professor makes the exam. The night before the exam you tell your friend who is also in the class that the exam will probably be hard.

However, in the second sentence using ~ㄴ가/은가/는가/나 보다 the speaker has a direct reason or evidence that supports this guess. For example, imagine you are a proctor in an exam room watching students write an exam. During the test, you see/hear many students sigh, and even some students completely stop writing the exam and start sleeping without answering all the questions. This is evidence that supports that the exam is difficult.

Let’s look at another example.

Imagine you are at a restaurant and you see a foreigner eating some Korean BBQ. After each piece of meat, he eats a big piece of kimchi. At this point, because it is something that you are directly experiencing and something that you have direct evidence of, you can say this sentence.

그 외국인이 김치를 좋아하는가 봐요
= I guess that foreigner likes kimchi/it looks like that foreigner likes kimchi/I suppose that foreigner likes kimchi

However if you actually didn’t know he likes kimchi or not, and were just guessing that he might (maybe because kimchi is delicious and everybody likes it), you could say:

그 외국인이 김치를 좋아할 것 같아요
= That foreigner probably likes kimchi

Here are some more examples:

사과가 너무 비싼가 봐요
= I guess the apples are too expensive (maybe because you realized that nobody is buying any apples, so you have the evidence to lead you to believe that the apples are too expensive)

내복을 입어야 되는가 봐요
= I guess I need to wear long-johns (long-underwear) (if you imagine it’s winter and you look outside and you realize that it is going to be freezing cold)

우리가 내일 아쉽게 못 가나 봐요
= Unfortunately it looks like we won’t be able to go tomorrow (if you imagine you had a road-trip planned for tomorrow but your car just broke down and are now realizing you won’t be able to go)

그 학생이 밥을 살 수 있는 돈이 없는가 봐요
= I guess that student doesn’t have any money to buy food (If you imagine you are on a school field trip as a teacher and it is lunch time for the students. However, one of the students is just sitting by himself not eating anything, and looks very sad)

정부에게 불만을 표현하고 싶은 사람이 많은가 봐요
= It looks like there are a lot of people who want to express their complaints towards the government (If you imagine you are walking around the downtown of your city and you see a bunch of protesters protesting something at city hall)

여기는 사람들이 사업을 하는 것보다 취업을 권하나 봐
= I guess people here recommend you to get a job rather than running your own (This could be anything, but imagine you are at university doing a marketing degree. The professors at the university might all make slight comments that starting up your own business isn’t the best way to go, and they recommend more that you just get a job for some company)

This grammatical form can be attached to sentences conjugated in the past and future tense by attaching ~는가 보다 or ~나 보다 to ~었~ or ~겠~, regardless of it is a verb, adjective, 이다, 있다 or 없다, for example:

미로가 어렵진 않았나 봐요
= I guess the maze isn’t difficult

빨래를 아직 안 헹궜나 봐요
= I guess the laundry hasn’t rinsed yet

누가 그 제품의 단점을 지적하지 않았나 봐요
= I guess nobody pointed out that product’s flaws

경찰관이 엎드린 사람을 보고 죽은 것으로 추정했나 봐요
= It seems as though the police saw that man laying on the ground and presumed he was dead

건물에 아무도 없는 것을 보니 모든 사람들이 지진에 잘 대피했나 봐요
= I saw that there was nobody in the building, so I guess they all were able to evacuate from the earthquake

곰이 걷는 것이 어색하는 것을 보니 평생 우리에 갇혀 있었나 봐요
= The way that bear walks is weird, I guess he was trapped in a cage his whole life

쓰레기가 이렇게 무더기로 쌓여 있는데 한번도 청소를 안 했나 봐요
= With this much garbage piled up, I guess they never cleaned the place even once

그 사람이 오랫동안 헌신해서 어머니를 돌봐서 어머니가 거의 다 나았나 봐
= That person dedicated himself to looking after my mother for a long time and now it looks like she is almost better

급하게 가다가 접시를 바닥에 엎어서 다시 요리해야 되겠나 봐요
= I was walking too fast and I dropped my plate flat on the ground so it looks like I’ll have to cook again

When the past tense is being used, regardless of verb, adjective or 이다, ~나 보다 is much more common and natural. Here are some more examples:

수신이 안 됐는가 봐요
= I guess there is no reception/It looks like there is no reception

아기가 접시를 깨뜨렸는가 봐요
= I guess the baby broke the plate/it looks like the baby broke the plate

새로운 탁구대가 왔는가 봐요
= I guess the new Ping-Pong table arrived/It looks like the new Ping-Pong table arrived

“~네(요)”, which you learned about in Lesson 83, is often added to sentences where the speaker learns something new. Because of the nature of the sentences we are creating with ~ㄴ가/은가/는가/나 보다, it is very common to add the grammatical principle “~네(요)” to 보다. For example:

시험이 어려운가 보네요 = I guess the exam is hard/the exam looks hard
사과가 너무 비싸나 보네요 = I guess the apples are too expensive
내복을 입어야 되는가 보네 = I guess I need to wear long-johns (long-underwear)
아기가 접시를 깨뜨렸나 보네 = I guess the baby broke the plate
수신이 안 됐나 보네 = I guess there is no reception/It looks like there is no reception

That’s it for this lesson!

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