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Lesson 115: I Should Have: ~ㄹ/을걸 (그랬다)

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Vocabulary
Introduction

I Should Have Done: ~ㄹ/을걸 (그랬다)
Negative Sentences with ~ㄹ/을걸 (그랬다)
괜히: Something That You Didn’t Need to Do

 

 

Vocabulary

Nouns:
김 = steam
바탕 = foundation/basis for
표지 = a sign on the road
표지 = cover of a book/magazine
초밥 = sushi
과도 = fruit knife
식칼 = kitchen knife
국자 = ladle (for soup)
신장 = kidney
세균 = germ
수칙 = rules/regulations
가사 = lyrics
약점 = weak point
자선 = charity
자선가 = philanthropist
동양화 = oriental painting
서양화 = western painting
만료일 = expiration date
보조개 = dimple
승무원 = crewman, flight attendant
주황색 = orange (color)

Verbs:
보상하다 = to compensate for
만료하다 = to be expired
대여하다 = to rent
딸꾹질하다 = to hiccup

Adjectives:
건조하다 = to be dry

 

 

Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn about a grammatical principle that looks like it has an entirely different meaning and purpose than it actually does. I remember when I saw ~ㄹ/을걸 for the first time, I said to myself “Oh, I can probably guess what that means!” Boy was I wrong. Let me teach it to you. Let’s get started.

 

 

I Should Have Done: ~ㄹ/을걸 (그랬다)

You can place ~ㄹ/을걸 at the end of a sentence to express that one should have done an action in the past, but didn’t. The meaning is fairly simple, and attaching it to a clause is quite simple as well:

가사를 더 잘 외울걸
= I should have memorized the lyrics better (but I didn’t)

식칼 대신에 과도 쓸걸
= I should have used a fruit knife instead of a kitchen knife

이용 수칙을 제대로 읽을걸
= I should have read the rules of using (this thing) properly

아까 그 표지를 더 자세히 볼걸
= I should have looked at that sign better

만료일이 언제까지인지 제대로 볼걸
= I should have looked at when the expiry date is until

이 차 대신에 조금 더 싼 차를 대여할걸
= I should have rented a slightly more cheaper car than this one

공기가 건조해서 로션을 조금 더 바를걸
= The air is dry, so I should have put on a bit more lotion

승무원이 이쪽으로 왔을 때 물을 달라고 그럴걸
= I should have asked for water when the flight attendant came this way

물을 급하게 먹어서 딸꾹질해서 조금 천천히 마실걸
= I drank water so fast and got the hiccups, I should have drank it a bit slower

국에 김이 많이 안 나서 안 뜨거울 줄 알았는데 그래도 국자를 쓸걸
= There wasn’t a lot of steam coming out of the soup, so I thought it wouldn’t be hot, but either way I should have used a ladle

This grammatical principle is typically used when the speaker is referring to something that the speaker should have done. It is not used to refer to something that another person should have done. In this sense, the speaker is communicating some form of regret for not doing the action to himself/herself.

그랬다 is often placed after ~ㄹ/을걸. The meaning is very similar, if not identical to if it were not there. For example, the sentences above could also be written like this:

가사를 더 잘 외울걸 그랬어 = I should have memorized the lyrics better
아까 그 표지를 더 자세히 볼걸 그랬어 = I should have looked at that sign better

Sometimes grammatical principles are used more commonly in self-speech, where the speaker is talking to himself/herself. ~ㄹ/을걸 (그랬다) is one of these grammatical principle. In this sense, it is usually not conjugated formally, as the listener is also the speaker.

However, you can theoretically be directing this regret slightly outwards to listeners. In these cases, it would be more natural to attach honorifics to 그랬다 instead of ~ㄹ/을걸. For example:

Instead of:

가사를 더 잘 외울걸요…

This would be more natural:

가사를 더 잘 외울걸 그랬어요 = I should have memorized the lyrics better

Any sentence ender can be attached to 그랬다, but the most common grammatical principle that is attached to it is ~나 or ~나 보다 (As you learned in Lesson 109). For example:

가사를 더 잘 외울걸 그랬나 봐 = It looks like I should have memorized the lyrics better
아까 그 표지를 더 자세히 볼걸 그랬나 봐 = I should have looked at that sign better

When the whole sentence finishes with 그랬나, it is most often in a form of a question. The question is usually directed at oneself, but it is not uncommon for a listener to answer the question. For example:

Person 1: 오기 전에 밥을 먹을걸 그랬나? = Should I have eaten before coming here?
Person 2: 우리가 곧 나가서 곧 먹을 거야! = (no), We are going to go out and eat soon

It’s also possible to use the first person plural to talk about something that “we” should have done. In cases like these, it is common to attach ~나 or ~지 to 그랬다 to create a question that you are asking the people around you. For example:

우리가 그 표지를 더 자세히 볼걸 그랬어 = We should have looked at that sign better
우리가 동물원에 더 일찍 올걸 그랬지? = We should have come to the zoo earlier (eh?)
우리가 초밥을 시킬걸 그랬나? = Should we have ordered sushi?

Person 1: 우리 딸이 오늘 학교에서 점심을 살 거야 = Our daughter is going to buy lunch at school today
Person 2: 아이에게 돈을 조금 더 줄 걸 그랬나? = Should we have given her more money?

 

 

Negative Sentences with ~ㄹ/을걸 (그랬다)

By making a negative sentence with 안 or ~지 않다, you can indicate that one regrets not doing an action. That is, to indicate that one shouldn’t have done something in the past (but did). For example:

오늘 학교에 안 올걸
= I shouldn’t have come to school today

아침으로 초밥을 안 먹을걸
= I shouldn’t have had sushi for breakfast

그 걸 엄마에게 말하지 말걸
= I shouldn’t have told my mother that

그 자선 단체에 돈을 안 줄걸
= I shouldn’t have given money to that charitable organization

이 무거운 가방을 안 가져올걸
= I shouldn’t have brought this heavy bag

이 벽을 주황색으로 칠하지 않을걸
= I shouldn’t have painted this wall orange

나의 약점이 무엇인지를 말하지 말걸
= I shouldn’t have said what my weak point is

신장이 안 좋아서 이렇게 단 것을 먹지 말걸
= My heart isn’t good, so I shouldn’t have ate such a sweet thing

고등학교 내용을 바탕으로 문제를 내지 말걸
= I shouldn’t have made questions based on high school content

남편에게 보조개가 있는 남자를 좋아한다고 말하지 않을걸
= I shouldn’t have told my husband that I like men with dimples

All the other forms you learned above with the positive sentences can also be applied to these sentences as well:

이 무거운 가방을 안 가져올걸 그랬나? = Should I have not brought this heavy bag?
아침으로 초밥을 안 먹을걸 그랬어 = I shouldn’t have had sushi for breakfast
오늘 학교에 안 올걸 그랬나 봐 = I guess I shouldn’t have come to school today
그 걸 엄마에게 말하지 말걸 그랬나? = Should I not have told my mother that?
우리가 동물원에 안 올걸 그랬지? = We shouldn’t have come to the zoo (eh?)
우리가 초밥을 안 시킬걸 그랬나? = Should we have not ordered sushi?

There is also a fairly difficult adverb that can sometimes be used to express the same meaning as the sentences we’ve created in this lesson. I would like to introduce you to that next.

 

 

괜히: Something That You Didn’t Need to Do

괜히 is often translated to “in vain” in English, but that isn’t really a perfect translation. In fact, it is difficult to come up with a perfect translation for this word simply because we don’t have a similar word in English. 괜히 is an adverb, and can be placed in sentences (just like any other adverb) in indicate that one did something that didn’t need to be done. I feel it is best to teach this word by presenting sentences using this word and not using this word side-by-side. For example:

나는 무거운 가방을 가져왔어 = I brought the heavy bag
나는 무거운 가방을 괜히 가져왔어 = I brought the heavy bag in vain

The first sentence is easy, and I am sure you understand it completely. In the second sentence, the purpose of 괜히 is to indicate that the person ended up realizing that he/she didn’t need to bring the bag. If I think of an example… maybe a bunch of people were going camping and I wasn’t sure if I should bring a tent or not. I decided to put the tent in a bag (which ended up being really heavy), and when I got to the campground I saw that my friend also brought a tent. At which point, I can say:

나는 무거운 가방을 괜히 가져왔어 = I didn’t need to bring this heavy bag

In this situation, I could also say:

텐트를 괜히 가져왔어 = I didn’t need to bring the tent

As you can see… 괜히 is put in the sentence where one realizes that he/she didn’t need to something (usually because it was already done – or because it was pointless to do it).

Another example:

나는 우유를 샀어 = I bought milk
나는 우유를 괜히 샀어 = I bought milk, but I just realized that I shouldn’t have because you also bought milk (or because we already had milk.)

So, just because of the nature of the sentence and the meaning that this creates – 괜히 can sometimes be used to make a sentence with a similar meaning to ~ㄹ/걸 (그랬다). For example:

오늘 학교에 안 올걸 = I shouldn’t have come to school today
오늘 학교에 괜히 왔어 = I shouldn’t have come to school today

이 무거운 가방을 안 가져올걸 = I shouldn’t have brought this heavy bag
나는 무거운 가방을 괜히 가져왔어 = I shouldn’t have brought this heavy bag

식사준비를 안 할걸 = I shouldn’t have prepared this meal
식사준비를 괜히 했어 = I shouldn’t have prepared this meal

Below are more examples:

보상을 괜히 그렇게 많이 했네요
= I guess I gave him too much money in compensation

제가 그 자선가가 말하는 것을 괜히 믿었어요
= I shouldn’t have believed what that philanthropist was saying (although I did)

세균이 생각보다 없어서 괜히 열심히 닦았어요
= There weren’t as many germs as we thought, so we didn’t need to wash our hands (although I did)

That’s it for this lesson!

Click here for a Workbook to go along with this lesson.

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