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Lesson 90: The meaning of ~잖아(요)

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The meaning of ~잖아(요)




야당 = opposition party (in politics)
여당 = ruling party (in politics)
이익 = benefit/profit/gain
수도꼭지 = tap/faucet
식후 = after a meal
식전 = before a meal
한숨 = short sleep
전용 = for use only by the noun before it
수료증 = a certification for completing a class
말대답 = talk back

새다 = to leak
맞서다 = to stand up against, to oppose
도입하다 = to introduce an item
반영하다 = to reflect
재활용하다 = to recycle
수강하다 = to take a course
수료하다 = to finish a course

Passive Verbs:
종료되다 = to be finished, completed, off

곱다 = to be beautiful
촌스럽다 = for a style to look awkward
꼼꼼하다 = to be meticulous

Adverbs and Other Words:
꼼꼼히 = meticulously/precisely

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



In this lesson you will learn how to end sentences with ~잖아 or ~잖아요. Though this is a very common ending in conversational Korean, English speakers often cannot figure out exactly what it means. The main reason for this is simply because it is hard to translate directly into English. In this lesson, there will be many examples that describe specifically the situation where this grammatical form can be used. Let’s get started.


The meaning of ~잖아()

As I already mentioned, adding ~잖아 or ~잖아요 to a word at the end of a sentence is very common in Korean. The meaning that the construction creates is very difficult to translate, but easier to describe. Therefore, when reading the example sentences in this lesson, pay more attention to the descriptions after the sentences that I provide than the actual translations.

~잖아 or ~잖아요 can be attached to verbs, adjectives or 이다 at the end of a sentence. It creates a meaning that loosely translates to “as you know/you know/don’t forget that…” In practice, this is used when you are talking to somebody who already knows (or should already know) the fact that you are stating, and you are asserting to this person that he/she knows (or should know) this fact. A common word that you will find ~잖아 or ~잖아요 attached to is 맞다. For example:

맞잖아요! = I told you it was correct! You should have known that this was correct!

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself with a friend, and somebody asks the two of you what the capital of Canada is. You say that the capital of Canada is Ottawa, and your friend says the capital is Vancouver. After debating for a bit, the person who asked you the question says that the capital of Canada is in fact Ottawa. In this case, you could say to your friend: 오타와가 맞잖아! = I told you Ottawa was correct/You should have known that Ottawa was correct!

Similarly, if you know that the capital city of Canada isn’t Vancouver – and your friend should have known that too, you could say:

밴쿠버 아니잖아! = It’s not Vancouver! You should know that it is not Vancouver!


Let’s look at other examples of ~잖아(요) being used. In order for you to get the hang of the usage, I will provide detailed descriptions of the situation where each sentence would be used:

내일은 토요일이잖아요! 그래서 우리가 일찍 가야 될 것 같아요 = You should know that tomorrow is Saturday, so we should probably go early!

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself with a friend discussing what time you should go to the park tomorrow. Because tomorrow is Saturday, you know that there will probably be a lot of people at the park on Saturday. Your friend should also know this, so you can use ~잖아(요) to indicate that this should be information that is already know. Therefore, you can say to your friend: “don’t forget/you should know that tomorrow is Saturday! So we should go early because of that!”


나는 돈이 없잖아! = Don’t forget that I don’t have any money/you should know that I don’t have any money

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself with your girlfriend but with no money (which I don’t recommend, but it could happen if you forget your wallet or something). You tell her that you forgot your wallet and therefore have no money on you. Your girlfriend later asks you to buy her a cup of coffee, to which you can respond “Don’t forget that I don’t have any money/you should know that I don’t have any money!” Since you have already told your girlfriend that you don’t have your wallet she should already know this information.


윌리가 배고프잖아! = Willy is hungry!/You should know that Willy is hungry/Don’t forget that Willy is hungry!

Description of when this would be used:

Okay, so my name is actually “Willy” and I heard this sentence this morning. I will explain the situation of why it was used. I was at my wife’s house and we were talking about what we were going to make for lunch. My mother-in-law suggested that we make something small, to which father-in-law responded “윌리가 배고프잖아!”

As I mentioned in the previous example – the important thing to remember with this meaning is that the listener should already know the fact that is being said. In this case, I am (actually) always hungry, and my father-in-law was making an assertion to his wife that “don’t forget, Willy eats a lot and is going to be hungry if we cook something small!”


~잖아(요) is also commonly used when one is describing some long situation (like a story). When this happens (in any language) it is common to provide some sort of back-story that is often common knowledge before getting to the actual story. For example:


Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself at work the day after you were sick. You are at work, and a co-worker heard from somebody that you went to the hospital last night. He asks why you went to the hospital, and in your response you say “remember/don’t forget/as you know I was sick at work yesterday… Then, I went home and ate, and suddenly threw up, so I went to the hospital.” Notice that in this example as well, the listener should know about the fact that you were sick yesterday.


선생님이 왜 화가 났냐고? 선생님에게 말대답을 했잖아! 선생님에게 그렇게 맞서면 당연히 선생님이 화가 나실 거예요 = Did you just ask why the teacher was mad? You should know that (it is because) you talked back to him! If you oppose the teacher like that, obviously he is going to get mad

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine you are talking to your friend, and he is telling you that he is in detention at school. Your friend says to you that he doesn’t understand why he ended up getting a detention. In response to this, you can tell him “you talked back to the teacher!” Here, your friend should know that he talked back to the teacher (of course, he was the one who did it). You can assert to him that he knows this by saying “선생님에게 말대답을 했잖아.”


수료증을 받고 싶으면 수료를 해야 돼요. 근데 당신이 수료를 아직 안 했잖아요 = If you want to get the class certification, you need to finish the class. But, you should know that you didn’t finish the class yet

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine you are asking for a certification for taking a class. You are talking with somebody in the administration office, who is trying to tell you that you need to finish the class in order to get the certification. In this situation, the person in the office can say “you should know that you didn’t finish the class.”


그거를 거기다가 버리지 마! 플라스틱을 재활용해야 되잖아 = Don’t throw that (out) there! You should know that we have to recycle plastics.

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine you are with your son, and he throws his plastic bottle in the regular garbage can. You taught him many times that recycling is important, so he should know to throw the plastic bottle in the recycle bin. At which point, you could say “you should know that we/you should recycle plastic.”


Below are many more examples without the long-winded description. Notice that I use “you should know” to translate the feeling of ~잖아(요). This isn’t a perfectly accurate way to describe the nuance of ~잖아(요), but it is the best I can do.

너무 촌스러워 보이잖아 = You should know that you look so awkward!
수도꼭지를 안 잠갔잖아! = You should know that you didn’t turn off the water faucet!
이 서비스는 이미 종료됐잖아 = You should know that this service is already finished
이 길은 자전거 전용 길이잖아요 = You should know that this road is a road only for bicycles

그렇게 하면 우리에게 이익이 없잖아요
= You should know that if we do it that way we will have no profit/benefit

여당이 야당보다 권력이 훨씬 크잖아요
= You should know that the ruling party has more power than the opposition party

내일 우리가 그 제품을 도입할 거잖아
= You should know that we have to introduce that product tomorrow

그 약을 식전 말고 식후에 먹어야 되잖아요
= You should know that you should take that medicine after a meal, not before

오늘 운동하자고? 나는 어제 한숨도 못 잤잖아!
= Did you say “let’s exercise today?” You should know that I didn’t sleep a wink last night!

선생님이 이 시험이 성적에 반영되지 않는다고 그랬잖아요
= You should know that the teacher said that this exam won’t show up on our grade

그 사원이 항상 꼼꼼하잖아! 이 일도 잘할 수 있을 것 같아
= You should know that that employee always works very meticulously. I think he will be able to do this job well too.

여기 물이 새잖아요. 그래서 우리가 테이프로 구멍을 막아야 돼요
= You should know that the water is leaking here. Therefore, we should cover the hole up with tape

제가 한 달 동안 꼼꼼히 수강을 했잖아요. 그래서 제가 환경 문제에 대해 많이 배웠어요
= You should know that I meticulously took the class for the past month. So, I learned a lot about environmental problems,


A few more things to be aware about before we finish:

Additional grammatical principles are never attached to the end of 잖아(요). Therefore, you will always find it at the end of a sentence.

My wife always tells me that adding ~잖아(요) to the end of a sentence makes it sound like you are being rude or mean. Almost as if you are saying “I TOLD you it was like that!” Though she says this, I constantly hear people using ~잖아(요) all the time without sounding or looking angry. Nonetheless, she is telling me that you should be cautious if using this form to an elder or to somebody who deserves high respect.

In a recent lesson, you learned about ~알다시피 and how it can be used to mean “as you know.” Though ~알다시피 and ~잖아(요) have different usages, their meanings are quite similar. Therefore, I suggest that if you want to use “~잖아(요)” to an elder – consider using ~알다시피 first. For example, if your boss asked you why you were late for work yesterday, you could say:

제가 어제 아팠잖아요! = Don’t forget/You should know that I was sick yesterday

But if you say that sentence, you are (in a way) asserting to your boss that he/she should know that you were sick, which might sound very rude. Instead, you could say:

부장님도 아시다시피 저는 어제 아파서 회사에 늦게 왔어요 = As you know, I was sick yesterday, so I was late

If you said this sentence instead, it would sound much more polite and probably wouldn’t get you in trouble.


In addition to all of this, ~잖아(요) is commonly attached to 있다. This construction should not be seen as the meanings of “있다” and “잖아(요)” put together. Instead, “있잖아” or “있잖아요” can be thought of as one unit. “있잖아” or “ 있잖아요” are commonly used at the beginning of sentences when somebody is trying to think of what they want to say or if they are indicating that they have something to say. For example:

있잖아… 오늘은 재활용을 해야 되는 날이야 = So, you know,… Today is the day to do recycling

That’s it for this lesson!

Click here for a Workbook to go along with this lesson.
Click here for Korean Short Stories specifically tailored to learners at this level.

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