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Lesson 83: Expressing Surprise or Admiration: ~네(요)

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Expressing Surprise or Admiration: ~네(요)




서류 = documents, papers
외과 = the medical field of surgery
욕실 = bathroom
점검 = inspection
연예 = entertainment
선배 = one’s senior
금액 = an amount of money
잔돈 = small change
진통제 = painkiller
계좌 = account

수출하다 = to export
수입하다 = to import
귀가하다 = to return home
갚다 = to pay back
분실하다  = to lose an object
신고하다 = to report to the police, government, some body
돌보다 = to take care of

불친절하다 = to not be kind
비다 = to be empty
심각하다 = to be serious, to be critical

Adverbs and Other Words:
한동안 = for a while, for some time
수시로 = frequently
최선 = the best way or plan

For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.



In this lesson, you will learn the meaning of adding “~네(요)” to sentences. This grammatical form has a very similar meaning and usage to ~구나/군/군요, which you learned in the previous lesson. Let’s get started.


Expressing Surprise or Admiration: ~()

In the previous lesson, you learned how to add ~구나/군/군요 to the end of a sentence. You learned that a speaker can use this grammatical principle to indicate that one is surprised about a certain fact. For example:

이 상황이 아주 심각하구나
= Ah, I didn’t realize that this situation is very serious

그 사람이 조금 불친절하구나
= Ah, I didn’t realize that person is a little bit unkind

한국어를 배우는 최선의 방법이 이 웹사이트로 배우는 것이구나
= Ah, I didn’t realize that the best way/method to learn Korean is through this website

Just like with ~구나/군/군요, a speaker can use “~네(요)” to express surprise to the information he/she just received. The question all Korean learners have then, is: What is the difference between “~구나/군/군요” and “~네(요)”?

The difference is so slight and in almost every situation, they do not need to be distinguished. Nowhere on any test will you ever see a question asking you to differentiate the two – and nobody would ever ask you to differentiate between the two. However, that is not what this website is about – and I pride myself on being able to distinguish things that have no business being distinguished.

Before we get to distinguishing seemingly identical things, let’s look at some examples of “~네(요)” in use first. ~네(요) is added directly to the stems of verbs, adjectives and 이다 when the speaker expresses surprise about an event in the present tense. For example:

아들이 귀엽네요 = Oh, I didn’t realize that your son is so cute
욕실이 아주 깨끗하네요 = Wow, the bathroom is so clean
이 음식점은 음식이 정말 맛있네요 = Wow, this restaurant’s food is really delicious
선생님! 영어를 너무 잘하시네요! = Teacher! I didn’t know you were so good at English

Now, how can we distinguish “~구나/군/군요” with “~네(요)?”

Remember what I said about “~구나/군/군요” in the previous lesson – that most of the feeling within this grammatical principle is “self-speech.”

While “~네(요)” could also be seen as a form of “self-speech,” I feel that it is less so compared to “~구나/군/군요.” That is, when you say “~네(요),” although part of the feeling of the sentence is spoken to oneself (about 60%), a lot of it (about, 40%) is directed at the other person in the conversation. Compare this with the 90% to 10% ratio that I estimated with “~구나/~군/~군요” in the previous lesson.

I’d like to share with you a dialogue that brought me to these ridiculous estimations.

One of my students in my (Korean) school came into my office, where one of my (Korean) coworkers was speaking to me in English. The student immediately said to the teacher:

선생님! 영어를 너무 잘하시네요!” = Teacher! I didn’t know you were so good at English!

The teacher, in response, said “아니야~ 너무 못해!” = No! I’m so bad!

Notice here that the teacher responded to the student, which emphasizes that what the student said was not only directed to himself, but also towards the teacher.

If, however, the student came into the room and said:

선생님! 영어를 너무 잘 하시군요 = Teacher! I didn’t know you were so good at English!

The chance of the teacher responding would be less, because most of the sentence was directed at the person speaking and not to the other person.

In addition to this, while “~구나/군/군요” and “~네(요)” could be mutually exchangeable in essentially any situation, “~네(요)” would be more likely to be used when the speaker is impressed from a fact that he/she just realized. On the other hand, “~구나/군/군요” would be more likely to be used when the speaker simply realizes some mundane fact that he/she didn’t know before. Again I specifically say “would be more likely” because neither of those are set in stone, and you could technically use “~구나/군/군요” or “~네(요)” in either situation.

In the Korean novel I am reading right now, a father asks his daughter what the last thing she said to her mother was (the mother is in a coma). The daughter thinks the last thing she said was:

엄마 어린이 집 다녀왔습니다 = Mom! I’m home/came back from pre-school

However, the father thinks the last thing she said was:

엄마 학교 다녀왔습니다 = Mom! I’m home/came back from school

The daughter eventually convinces the father that she is right. At which point, the father says:

그랬어? 그랬구나. 어린이집이었구나. 아빠가 깜빡했네.
= Was it like that? Oh, I didn’t realize it was like that. I didn’t realize it was a daycare. I guess/I didn’t realize that I forgot

In this example, within the same sentence the father uses both “네(요)” and  “~구나/군/군요” to signify that he just realized that new fact.

Alright, that is enough splitting hairs for one lesson. Let’s look at many examples. Try not to pay attention to the English translations because it is hard to translate “impressions” or “realizations” directly:

First, in the present tense:

아! 잔돈이 없네 = Oh, I didn’t realize that I don’t have any change
선배가 춤을 잘 추네요 = Oh, I didn’t realize that our senior dances really well
금액이 많이 나오네요 = Oh, I didn’t realize that the amount of money is a lot (it’s expensive)
계좌가 완전히 비어 있네 = Oh, I didn’t realize that my account is completely empty
이 진통제가 진짜 잘 드네 = Wow, this painkiller really works
너의 남편이 애기를 잘 돌보네 = Wow, your husband looks after the baby well
그 회사가 그 제품도 수입하네 = Oh, that company also imports that product
외과 의사가 되는 것이 제일 어렵네요 = Wow, becoming a surgeon is really the most difficult

In the past tense, ~네(요) can attach directly to ~았/었. For example:

밥을 빨리 먹었네 = Oh, you ate really fast
점검을 벌써 받았네 = Oh, I you already got the inspection
분실한 돈을 찾았네 = Oh, you found the money that you lost
서류를 빨리 정리했네 = Oh, you organized the papers quickly
우리 계좌로 돈을 이미 보냈네 = Oh, you already sent the money to our account
아! 그래서 그 제품을 수출을 못 했네 = Oh, so that’s why you couldn’t export that product


In Lesson 35, you learned about adding ~겠다 to express possibility. In that lesson, I described that this is commonly used when the speaker sees something or hears some fact, and is stating that something “must be the case” based on that evidence. It is common to attach ~네(요) to ~겠다 in these cases to express one’s realization (and/or impression) of this evidence. For example:

아프겠네 = Oh, that must hurt
힘들겠네! = Oh, that must be so hard!
돈이 부족하겠네 = Oh, we probably won’t have enough money
빚을 빨리 갚아야 되겠네 = Oh, I should probably pay off this debt quickly
오늘 일찍 귀가해야 되겠네 = Oh, I should probably go home early today
안전 점검을 수시로 해야 되겠네 = Oh, I should probably do a safety check frequently
이것을 정부에 신고를 안 해도 되겠네 = Oh, I probably don’t have to report this to the government


In the previous lesson, you learned how “~구나/군/군요” can be added to 그렇다. It is also common to attach ~네(요) to 그렇다.

“그렇네(요)” is commonly used when another person states a fact for the first time (usually something that the listener didn’t know or recognize up to that point). As the fact is being stated, the listener is witnessing the fact for the first time. For example, look how I describe the following exchange:

Person 1: 비가 많이 와요! = It’s raining really hard!
Person 1 could have known this fact all along, he or she doesn’t necessarily need to witness that it is raining hard for the first time. He/she is just telling this fact to another person who probably doesn’t know that it is raining hard.

Person 2: 그렇네! = Oh, it’s like that! (Oh! It really is raining hard!)
Person 2 probably didn’t know or recognize that it is raining hard, and he is probably witnessing the heavy rainfall for the first time today. As he witnesses the heavy rainfall, Person 1 tells him “It’s really raining hard!” At this point, Person 2 can express his surprise by saying “그렇네!”

Here’s another example:

Person 1: 오늘 점심은 피자야! = Today’s lunch is pizza
Person 2: 그렇네! = Oh, it’s like that! (Oh! It really is Pizza for lunch today)
Person 2 probably didn’t know that the lunch today is pizza, and he is probably looking at the menu for the first time. As he looks at the menu, Person 1 tells him “Today’s lunch is pizza.” At this point, Person 2 can express his surprise by saying “그렇네!”

That’s it for this lesson!

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