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Lesson 116: While in the state of: ~ㄴ/은 채(로)

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While in the state of: ~ㄴ/은 채(로)




= needle
숫자 = number, figure, numeral
속옷 = underwear
비품 = equipment
바위 = rock, stone
사연 = story
홍차 = black tea
변기 = toilet
가시 = thorn, fish bones
주변 = surroundings, the vicinity of
위층 = upper level
올빼미 = owl

뻗다 = to reach out, to stretch out
적다 = to write down, to jot
찌르다 = to pierce/stab/prick/poke
찔리다 = to be pierced, stabbed, pricked
가리다 = to hide/cover up/conceal
향하다 = to face
덮이다 = to be covered
펼치다 = open/spread out
채점하다 = to grade a school test
알아채다 = to notice, to be aware of

질리다 = to be sick and tired of
신속하다 = to be quick, prompt

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In this Lesson, you will learn about the special noun, 채. This is another noun that can be used in the ~는 것 principle that takes on a special meaning. In this lesson, you will learn how it can be used. Let’s get started.

While in the state of: ~ㄴ/은 채(로)

If you have picked up any Korean book (especially novels), you most likely have come across this grammatical principle in your studies. This grammatical principle is incredibly common in novels and stories, but only fairly common in speech. You essentially can’t read any Korean literature without understanding the meaning of 채.

채 is placed as a noun in the ~는 것 principle, most commonly described with the past tense ~ㄴ/은. For example:

모자를 쓴 채(로)
There doesn’t seem to be any difference in meaning if ~ is used or not

The purpose of ~ㄴ/은 채 is to indicate that the state of the clause describing it continues until (and usually beyond) the action in the next clause. I want to stress the word “state” in that sentence.

When I say 모자를 쓴 채, it does not mean that the person actively put on his hat. It’s possible that he put on his hat in an earlier sentence – but that information is irrelevant to our current sentence. All that is relevant is that the hat is currently on his head… and that state (the hat being on his head) will continue until (and beyond) the next action.

Let’s finish the sentence from above. If I were to say, for example:

선생님이 모자를 쓴 채 학교에 들어갔어요
= The teacher went into the school with a/the hat on his head

As usual, it’s hard to come up with an English translation of ~ㄴ/은 채 that fits all scenarios. The most common translations are “with” or “while.” For example:

The teacher went into the school with a/the hat on his head
The teacher went into the school while wearing a hat

Despite the similarities in translations, it is important to fully understand the difference between ~ㄴ/은 채 and ~(으)면서. When using ~(으)면서, both actions are actively happening at the same time and are processing or continuing together. For example, if I were to say:

선생님이 모자를 쓰면서 학교에 들어갔어요
– although this sentence is grammatically correct, it is pretty ridiculous and only in very rare situations would somebody actually need to say this. Here, the person is saying that while he went into the school, he put his hat on. As in, the moment he entered the school, he took his hat and put it on his head. 99.9% of the time, it would be more appropriate to say:

선생님이 모자를 쓴 채 학교에 들어갔어요

Regardless of the translation, it is important that you remember that the clause describing 채 is in its non-active completed state. The verb itself does not have to be a passive verb. It just needs to be a verb where – once the action is done one time – it can proceed in its completed state until something changes. Many verbs are like this, and here is a list of some of the more common verbs that you will find being used with “채”:

신다 = to put on shoes
입다 = to put on clothes
켜다 = to turn on
끄다 = to turn off
덮다 = to cover, close
가리다 = to cover
앉다 = to sit
서다 = to stand
넣다 = to put into
놓다 = to put onto
감다 = to close one’s eyes
잠그다 = to lock
모르다 = to not know

Let’s look at many examples:

그 남자는 눈을 뜬 채로 죽었다
= That man died with his eyes open

음식을 입에 넣은 채 말해서는 안 돼요
= You shouldn’t talk with food in your mouth

아이는 TV을 켜놓은 채 방에서 나왔어요
= The child came out of the room with the TV turned on

저는 비품을 탁자에 놓은 채 집을 떠났어요
= I left the house with the equipment laying on the table

미국 사람들은 신발을 신은 채 집에 들어가요
= American people go into their houses with their shoes on

너무 더워서 속옷을 안 입은 채 밖에 나갔어요
= I went outside without wearing my underwear because it was so hot

슬기는 슬기가 아픈지도 모른 채 일을 했어요
= Seulgi worked without knowing she was sick

그는 불을 끈 채 집에서 그냥 홍차를 마시고 있었어요
= He was just sitting at home drinking tea with the lights off

여자는 변기를 신문으로 덮은 채 화장실에서 나왔어요
= The girl came out of the bathroom with the toilet covered by newspaper

Notice that even though the clause before ~ㄴ/은 채 feels like it is in the passive voice (because it is in its “completed” state), the active verb is actually used.

Sometimes active verbs have passive equivalents. For example:

켜다 = to turn on
켜지다 = to be turned on

끄다 = to turn off
꺼지다 = to be turned off

덮다 = to cover
덮이다 = to be covered

잠그다 = to lock
잠기다 = to be locked

In the cases where the active verb also has a passive equivalent, it is acceptable to place the passive word and/or conjugation before ~ㄴ/은 채. For example:

우리는 불을 끈 채로 영화를 봤다 = We watched a movie with the lights off
우리는 불이 꺼진 채로 영화를 봤다 = We watched a movie with the lights off

The only difference between the active and passive forms is the distinction of who actually did the action. For example, by saying “우리는 불을 끈 채로”, you are indicating that “we” turned the lights off, and then did the next action. However, by saying “불이 꺼진 채로” you are not indicating specifically who turned the lights off – you are just saying that they are off when the next action occurred.

This form would also be acceptable:

우리는 불이 꺼져 있는 채로 영화를 봤다 = We watched a movie with the lights off

I don’t want to start describing the difference between those two because that isn’t the purpose of this lesson. If you’re wondering what the difference between these three are:

우리는 불을 끈 채로 영화를 봤다
우리는 불이 꺼진 채로 영화를 봤다
우리는 불이 꺼져 있는 채로 영화를 봤다

… Essentially nothing. Only the nuance of who/what turned on the light. They can be distinguished if we look at just the clause before ~ㄴ/은 채 as a separate clause:

우리는 불을 껐어요 = We turned off the light
불이 꺼졌어요 = The light was turned off
불이 껴져 있어요 = The light is off

Distinguishing their meanings isn’t as important when used with ~ㄴ/은 채로 because, in effect, they all describe the same thing.

Notice that I included the words “and beyond” in the description at the very beginning of the lesson. I said:

The purpose of ~ㄴ/은 채 is to indicate that the state of the clause describing it continues until (and usually beyond) the action in the next clause. I want to stress the word “state” in that sentence.

I specifically wrote “and beyond” to insinuate that in sentences with 채, even though the second action is completed it doesn’t mean that the clause describing 채 also is completed. For example, in our sentence:

선생님이 모자를 쓴 채 학교에 들어갔어요

The “and beyond” description is just to indicate that – just because the person enters the school (and thus, the second action completes itself), doesn’t mean that he takes his hat off. Instead, the completed state of him wearing the hat will continue until the situation explains otherwise. This is the same with all of the examples I provided. For example, if we looked at this one:

너무 더워서 저는 여름에 속옷을 안 입은 채로 밖에 나가요

… it means that the person goes outside without wearing underwear. But, it doesn’t mean that once he gets outside that he puts underwear on. Rather, it means that this state of “not wearing underwear” will continue even past the next action.

Alright, let’s finish this lesson with many examples of everything:

눈을 감은 채 그 숫자를 외워 봤어요
= I closed my eyes and tried to memorize those numbers

신발을 신은 채로 위층에 올라갔어요
= I went upstairs with my shoes on

올빼미가 날개가 펼친 채로 내려왔어요
= The owl came down with his wings spread

바위를 이불로 덮은 채 작업을 끝냈어요
= I finished the work with the blanket covering the rock

두 사람은 불을 켜지 않은 채 침대에 누웠다
= The two people lied on the bed without turning on the lights

생선 가시가 목에 찔린 채로 병원에 갔어요
= I went to the hospital with a fish bone stuck in my throat

이상한 분위기를 알아챈 채 자리를 떠났어요
= I left my room as feeling/noticing the strange atmosphere

여자 친구가 손을 뻗은 채 나를 향해 뛰어왔어
= My girlfriend ran towards me with her hands out

교실 문이 열린 채 학생들의 시험을 채점했어요
= I graded the students’ exams with the classroom door open

얼굴을 가린 채로 회사에 신속하게 들어갔어요
= I quickly went into the office with my face covered

제가 질린 음식을 고개를 숙인 채 맛있는 척 먹었어요
= I pretended as though I liked the food (I am sick of) with my head down

제가 주변에 뭐가 있는지 아무 것도 모른 채 다녔어요
= I went around not knowing what anything around me was

이불을 덮은 채로 그냥 침대에서 하루 종일 누워 있었어요
= I was just laying in bed all day with the covers over me

친구가 그 사연에 대해 아무 말도 남기지 않은 채 도망갔어요
= My friend didn’t say anything about that (story) and just left

중요한 정보를 적은 종이를 탁자에 놓은 채로 집에서 나갔어요
= I went out of the house with the paper with the important information written on it sitting on the table

Alright, that’s enough for this lesson!

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

How about testing your knowledge on what you learned in the past 8 lessons with our Lessons 109 – 116 Mini-Test.

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Then let me browse through the next set of lessons (Lessons 117 – 125)!
Or, you can always go directly to Lesson 117.