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Lesson 118: Stating a fact from experience: ~더라

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Stating a Fact from Experience: ~더라





국내산 = domestically made product
가옥 = house
선진 = advancement, development
선진국 = advanced/developed country
진료 = medical treatment
능동 = active
피동 = passive
콘센트 = wall socket/outlet
조상 = ancestor
여드름 = pimple/acne
열정 = passion
차고 = garage
거실 = living room
뻥 = joke
선출 = election
가운데 = the middle

하차하다 = to get off of a train/bus
챙기다 = to bring, pack up
이동하다 = to move to a different area, to migrate
긁다 = to scratch
매다 = to tie up
조정하다 = to adjust
격려하다 = to encourage

멋지다 = to be stylish/cool

Adverbs and Other Words:
또한 = also/as well
이리저리 = here and there
도중 = in the middle of





In this lesson, you will continue to learn about ~더~. Specifically, you will learn about ~더라~, which is a common ending to a sentence. But what does it mean? Let’s gets started.




Stating a Fact from Experience: ~더라

In the previous lesson, you learned about ~더~ and how it can be placed between two things to have a meaning that expresses experience. You learned how it can attach to a verb/adjective, and then how ~ㄴ/가 gets attached to it to form a compound meaning.

In this lesson, you will learn another grammatical principle that is often compounded with ~더~. By attaching ~라 to “~더~” we end up with ~더라, which can be placed at the end of a sentence attached to a verb/adjective.

First of all, what meaning does just “~라” have?
The thing is, although ~더라 is still used commonly in Korean, just using “~라” is somewhat of an older grammatical principle that isn’t used anymore. Its general function is simply to state a fact or current situation. The only time this ever really comes up anymore is when attaching it to “아니다” to form “아니라”, which you learned about in Lesson 95.

If we combine the usage of “~더~” with “~라”, we end up with a grammatical principle that is the combined meaning of both of these individual principles. That is, when the speaker is expressing some fact that he/she witnessed and knows from some sort of first-hand experience with that fact. Specifically, this fact must be something that wasn’t already known to the person – and it must be something that he/she just came to realize or learn because of this first-hand experience.

Let’s look at a very simple example:

가방이 무겁더라 = (from my own experience, I realized that) the bag is heavy

Notice the difference is nuance between these two:

가방이 무거워
가방이 무겁더라

In the first example, one is simply stating a fact – that the bag is heavy. In the second example, the speaker is indicating that he/she has some direct experience with the heaviness of the bag – and this allows him/her to say that the bag is heavy. In both examples the end result is essentially the same (the speaker conveying that the bag is heavy), but the second one has a more complex nuance.

Because this grammatical principle is only used when one indicates a newly learned fact (from the experience), a sentence like this cannot be used:

내가 학교에 걸어가더라…

… In this case, nothing was learned, and there is nothing that one can convey based on experience. However, you could say something like this:

학교에 걸어가는 게 힘들더라 = (from my own experience, I realized that) walking to school is difficult

In the example above, there is something that the speaker realized for the first time (that walking to school is difficult), and the use of “~더라” is to signify that this knowledge came as a result of first-hand experience with walking to school.

As with most intermediate/advanced Korean grammatical principles, it is difficult to come up with an English translation that fits all examples of ~더라. My favorite, the one that I feel fits most situations is – “from my own experience, I realized/saw/noticed that….”

Other examples:
한국말을 배우는 게 힘들더라 = (from my own experience, I realized that) learning Korean is hard
캐나다 날씨가 너무 춥더라 = I realized/noticed that Canadian weather is very cold
그 청소년은 여드름이 많더라 = I saw/noticed that that kid has a lot of acne
이민호는 정말로 멋지더라 = 이민호 is/was very stylish (from what I experienced)

So far I have only used examples of ~더라 attached to adjectives, but it is also common to attach it to verbs or 이다. For example:

한국학생들이 공부를 열심히 하더라 = (from my own experience, I realized/noticed that) Korean students study really hard
문제는 컴퓨터더라 = (from my own experience, I realized/noticed that) the problem is the computers
콘센트가 침대와 책상 가운데에 있더라 = from my experience, I remember that the outlet is between the bed and the desk
이 고기는 국내산이더라 = from my experience, I saw that this meat is from Korea

I am very happy to be able to explain the subtle difference between conjugating the word before ~더라 in the present tense (for example, 하더라) and conjugating it in the past tense (for example, 했더라). Because the use of “~더라” already expresses one’s experience from the past, some people are confused about what effect the past tense conjugation can have on this grammatical principle. Let me explain.

By saying, for example:

어제 비가 오더라
You are saying that you personally saw/experienced it raining. In other words, you literally saw water fall from the sky.

However, by saying:
어제 비가 왔더라
You are saying that you personally saw/experienced the fact that it did rain, but you didn’t actually see it rain. For example, maybe you saw/experienced that the ground was wet yesterday, but you didn’t actually see the rain falling from the sky.

In most situations, it is usually more common to use the present tense conjugation before ~더라. However, if the situation allows for it, the past tense is possible.
A good translation for the past tense conjugation being used before ~더라 might be “I saw/experienced that (something/somebody) had…”. For example:

어제 비가 오더라 = I saw it rain yesterday
어제 비가 왔더라 = I saw that it had rained yesterday

여자친구가 식당에서 밥을 먹더라 = I saw/noticed my girlfriend eating at the restaurant
여자친구가 식당에서 밥을 다 먹었더라 = I saw/noticed that my girlfriend had eaten all of her food at the restaurant (For example, you get here, and you see that her plate is empty. You didn’t personally see her eating, but you saw that she had eaten).

우리 선생님이 영어를 잘하더라 = I noticed/saw firsthand that our teacher is good at English
우리 선생님이 (어렸을 때) 영어를 잘했더라 = I noticed/saw firsthand that our teacher had been good at English (and here, you need to ask yourself – in what situation would this actually be said?)

It is also quite common to use ~더라 to ask a question. These questions, like “던가” are usually addressed to oneself. However, depending on the situation they can sort of be addressed to a listener. This is similar to how ~구나 works; that is, even though the sentence is directed at oneself, the speaker might be deliberately saying it to get a response from a listener.

Regardless, the purpose of using ~더라 to ask a question can be seen if we look at the following examples:

빵이 얼마였더라? = How much did the bread cost?
빵이 얼마였어요? = How much did the bread cost?

In the first example, the use of “~더라” implies that the speaker knew how much the bread cost… but for some reason can’t remember. He/she knew or somehow experienced the price in the past, but currently can’t think of it. For example, if you went to the grocery store and bought some bread in addition to other items. When you got home, you looked in your wallet and realize that you have less money than you thought. You start thinking about how much each item cost, and then you can ask yourself “빵이 얼마였더라?” Notice here that if you went to the grocery store with a friend, and came back together – you could say the same sentence. Even though the question is directed to yourself, your friend could also hear the question and answer it.

Conversely, the second example implies that the speaker has/had no idea how much the bread costs. For example, if you were sitting at home and your mother came home with bread. You had no idea how much it cost, so here you can ask her “빵이 얼마였어요?”

Another example:

슬기가 어디 갔더라 = Ah, where did Seulgi go, again? (I can’t remember where she went, but I was with her and I saw her leaving, but I just can’t remember where she went)

슬기가 어디 갔어? = Where did Seulgi go? (You have no idea where she went)

Other examples:
내가 언제 태국에 갔더라 = Ah, when did I go to Thailand, again? (I can’t remember, but obviously I have the experience of going to Thailand, but I just can’t remember when it was)

내가 언제 졸업했더라 = Ah, when did I graduate again (what year)? (I can’t remember, but obviously I have the experience of graduating, but I just can’t remember when it was)

내가 어디서 버스를 내렸더라 = Ah, where did I get off the bus, again? (I can’t remember, but obviously I have the experience getting off the bus, I just can’t remember where it was I got off)

That’s it for this lesson!

Okay, got it! Take me to the next Lesson!