Lesson 100: The confusing meanings of ~텐데(요)

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Vocabulary
Introduction

Would: ~ㄹ/을  텐데(요)
It is probable that, I suppose that…: ~ㄹ/을 텐데(요)
Using ~ㄹ/을 텐데 (or ~ㄹ/을 테니까) in the middle of a sentence

 

 

Vocabulary

Nouns:
주사 = injection
연고 = ointment
골프 = golf
큰길 = main road
품목 = items
특징 = specific physical characteristic
인생 = life
하룻밤 = one night
통신 = communications/correspondence
모임 = gathering/get together
식품 = food products
자식 = one’s child(ren)
남성 = male
여성 = female

Verbs:
결근하다 = to be absent from work
반복하다 = repeat
늘어나다 = stretch
마련하다 = prepare/arrange/provide
내놓다 = release/put out
대출하다 = loan

Adjectives:
가렵다 = itchy
커다랗다 = huge
다양하다  = various

Adverbs and Other Verbs:
오늘날 = these days
시절 = the good “days”, my school “days”
최고 = the best/first

 

Introduction

Okay, get ready for another lesson filled with grammar explanations. What else would you expect? – With this being our 100th lesson, I wanted to make sure it was a good one. Before I say anything else, I want to take just a moment to thank anyone who has actually followed these lessons up until this point. Everything up until now represents two years of work that I have invested into this project. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it. One of the best parts about creating this resource is hearing from people who have used my website to help them with their studies. Hearing from you really motivates me to keep on going.

Two years worth of writing and 100 Lessons later, I am incredibly happy with what I have. But this is only the beginning. I have plans for so much more. The only thing holding me back is time. Keep an eye out for bigger and better things that I hope to install over the upcoming months and years. I’m just one person, so sometimes it takes a while to get everything finished – but I promise not to let you down.

In this lesson, you will learn about the grammatical principle ~ㄹ/을 텐데(요), and to a lesser extend ~ㄹ/을 테니까. Let’s get started.

 

Would: ~/텐데()

If you have come across this grammatical principle before, I am sure that it has confused you. Do a quick search on the internet, and almost everybody will start off by saying that ~ㄹ/을 텐데 is actually the contraction of ~ㄹ/을 followed by a “pseudo-noun” (a noun that can only be placed after a describing verb or adjective; like 수, 지, 적, etc…) followed the 이다, and then conjugated using the ~는 데 principle. So, all together:

~ㄹ/을 + 터 + 이다 + ㄴ데 = 텐데

The problem is, nobody has a good explanation for the meaning of “터.”  Sure, you could look it up in the dictionary to see what it means, but 터 is hardly ever used outside of the “~ㄹ/을 텐데” grammatical principle. Therefore, I don’t like the descriptions that try to explain the meaning of “~ㄹ/을 텐데” by simply saying “oh, it is just 터 + 는데.”

Instead, I prefer to think of 텐데 (or 테니까, which we will talk about later) as one grammatical unit. The problem is that this one grammatical unit can take on many meanings depending on the situation.

The most common way that I use ~텐데 is in sentences with “if” or “even if” – where the verb/adjective before “if/even if” is in the past tense. While most dictionaries won’t tell you this, I tend to feel that this usage is best translated to “would” in English. Read the following examples and descriptions carefully to understand why I think “would” is the best word to use.

Examples of “if” and “even if” sentences where the verb behind “if/even if” is in the past tense:

날씨가 좋았더라면…
날씨가 좋았더라도…

제가 돈이 있었더라면…
제가 돈이 있었더라도…

In Lesson 43 and in the previous lesson (Lesson 99), you learned that sentences in this form most likely end with the final verb being conjugated in this form: ~았/었을 것이다. For example:

날씨가 좋았더라면 저는 공원에 갔을 거예요 = If it was nice out, I would have gone
날씨가 좋았더라도 저는 공원에 안 갔을 거예요  = Even if it was nice out, I still wouldn’t have gone

제가 돈이 있었더라면 그것을 샀을 거예요 = If I had money, I would have bought that
제가 돈이 있었더라도 그것을 안 샀을 거예요 = Even if I had money, I wouldn’t have bought that

In each of these cases, whenever you have an “if” or “even if” sentence in the past, followed by a clause that would have happened (or not happened), you can replace 거예요 with 텐데(요). For example:

날씨가 좋았더라면 저는 공원에 갔을 텐데요 = If it was nice out, I would have gone
날씨가 좋았더라도 저는 공원에 안 갔을 텐데요  = Even if it was nice out, I still wouldn’t have gone

제가 돈이 있었더라면 그것을 샀을 텐데요 = If I had money, I would have bought that
제가 돈이 있었더라도 그것을 안 샀을 텐데요 = Even if I had money, I wouldn’t have bought that

This can also be done when the “if/even if” sentence is in the present tense as well, but only if the second clause is a supposition that would happen if the first clause were true. For example:

내가 돈이 있으면 그것을 살 텐데 = I would buy that if I had money
음식이 더 있으면 좋을 텐데 = It would be good if there was more food

 

When 텐데 is used in a sentence, it is done because the speaker has a certain feeling that he/she wants to express. It is very hard to express a feeling in words, and especially one that is elicited from the use of a word in a foreign language, but I will try my best to explain this feeling to you.

It makes sense to me to split up this feeling and describe them in different sections. The thing is, the feeling“텐데” has is actually a combination of all of these descriptions, but I feel that different situations elicit a slightly different feeling. Therefore, after reading all of my descriptions below, realize that 텐데 is actually a combination of all of those feelings.

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For sentences that have “if…” in the past tense, the reason for using 텐데 (vs. not using it) is very subtle. For example, in these two sentences:

날씨가 좋았더라면 저는 공원에 갔을 거예요 = If it was nice out, I would have gone
날씨가 좋았더라면 저는 공원에 갔을 텐데요 = If it was nice out, I would have gone

Their meanings are virtually the same. However, in the sentence with “텐데”, there is a slight nuance/feeling of regret. There is no way I can translate this into words, but it is there. Because of this, you typically only see this type of sentence when you want to express this nuance/feeling. There, a sentence with a similar structure but no feeling of regret should typically would not use 텐데. For example:

뛰다가 조심하지 않았다면 넘어졌을 거예요 = If I wasn’t careful when I was running, I would have fallen

Here, under most situations, it would be strange to write that sentence like this:
뛰다가 조심하지 않았다면 넘어졌을 텐데요

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For sentences that have “even if…” in the past or present tense, the reason for using 텐데 (vs. not using it) is also very subtle. For example, in these two sentences:

날씨가 좋았더라도 저는 공원에 안 갔을 거예요 = Even if it was nice out, I still wouldn’t have gone
날씨가 좋았더라도 저는 공원에 안 갔을 텐데요 = Even if it was nice out, I still wouldn’t have gone

Their meanings are virtually the same. However, in the sentence with “텐데”, there is a slight nuance/feeling of being annoyed. This is technically the same as the feeling of “regret” in my description above, but it feels closer to an annoying feeling when used with ~더라도. For example:

날씨가 좋았더라도 저는 공원에 안 갔을 텐데요 = Even if it was nice out, I still wouldn’t have gone
제가 돈이 있었더라도 그것을 안 샀을 텐데요 = Even if I had money, I wouldn’t have bought that

Again, it is very hard to translate this specific feeling of “텐데”, but its addition brings the translation closer to something like:

Ugh, even if it was nice out, I still wouldn’t have gone, and
Ugh, even if I had money, I wouldn’t have bought that

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For sentences that have “if” in the present tense, the reason for using 텐데 (vs. not using it) is also very subtle. For example, in these two sentences:

음식이 더 있으면 좋을 거야 = It would be good if there was more food
음식이 더 있으면 좋을 텐데 = It would be good if there was more food

 

Their meanings are virtually the same. However, in the sentence with “텐데”, there is a slight nuance/feeling of “oh, that’s too bad”. This is technically the same as the feeling of “regret” and “being annoyed” in my descriptions above, but it feels closer to a “that’s too bad” feeling when used with “if” in the present tense like this. Again, it is very hard to translate the specific use of “텐데”, but its addition bring the translation closer to something like:

음식이 더 있으면 좋을 텐데 = Oh, it’s too bad there isn’t more food, because if there were, I would eat it

 

Here’s another example:

친구가 빨리 왔으면 좋을 텐데 = Ugh, I wish my friend would come quickly/It would be nice if my friend came quickly

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Remember what I said at the beginning of these descriptions – the feeling that I’m trying to describe is actually a combination of all of these… all taken on by one word. I’m trying to compartmentalize them, but try to realize that they’re actually all the same feeling. Because of that, any sentence using 텐데 could have any of these feelings, it’s really up to the mood and context of the sentence. For example, in this sentence:

 

날씨가 좋더라도 나는 갈 수 없어 = Even if the weather is nice, I can’t go
날씨가 좋더라도 나는 갈 수 없을 텐데 = Even if the weather is nice, I can’t go

 

The purpose of using “텐데” in the second example is to express this nuance/feeling. What is the feeling? Well, it’s a combination of regret (maybe less so), and being annoyed and saying “oh, that’s too bad”. You’ll see this same feeling talked about in the next section, but in that section I talk about it being used as a “worry” feeling.

 

 

It is probable that, I suppose that…: ~/텐데()

Most dictionaries give you a definition of “one supposes that,” or “one expects that…” I guess that these translations could also be applied to the examples in the previous section, as the second clause in each sentence was supposed to happen, baring the condition of the first sentence.

However, despite the similarities with this usage and the one discussed previously, I like to think that this is a completely separate usage. By placing ~ㄹ/을 텐데 at the end of a sentence, you can indicate that you suppose or expect something to be the case. This is typically done when the speaker is not the acting agent (the subject/topic) in the sentence. For example:

비가 올 텐데 = It will probably rain (I suppose that it will rain)
날씨가 추울 텐데 = The weather will probably be cold
그가 집에 없을 텐데 = He probably won’t be home

When I first learned about this usage, my first question was “what is the difference between those sentences, and the following sentences?:”

비가 올 것 같아 = It will probably rain
추울 것 같아 = The weather will probably be cold
그가 집에 없을 것 같아 = He probably won’t be home

There are actually two slight nuances that ~ㄹ/을 텐데 can add to the meaning of a sentence compared to ~ㄹ/을 것 같다.

  1. When you use ~ㄹ/을 텐데, you are slightly more sure of something happening (sort of like the difference between (“I might go,” and “I will probably go.)
  2. When you use ~ㄹ/을 텐데, you are indicating a very slight feeling of being worried, annoyed, thinking “too bad” (where appropriate depending on the context).

For example, in the sentence:

추울 텐데 = The weather will probably be cold…

You are indicating that the weather will probably be cold – and, as a result of that – you are a little bit worried or irritated (depending on the context). It is hard to translate this nuance into words, and this is sort of the feeling I was trying to describe earlier in the lesson. You could almost translate the sentence above to:

추울 텐데 = Oh… it will probably be cold.., or, “I’m a little worried that it might be cold.” (Oh, it’s too bad that it’s going to be cold, it’s annoying that it is going to be cold, etc…)

 

More examples:

그 식당이 이미 닫았을 텐데 = The restaurant is probably already closed (Ugh, it’s too bad because the restaurant will probably already be closed/I’m irritated/worried because the restaurant will probably already be closed)

퇴근시간이라서 길이 막힐 텐데 = The roads will probably be jammed because it is rush hour (Ugh, it’s too bad because the road will probably be jammed because it’s rush hour/I’m irritated/worried because the roads will probably be jammed)

 

 

 

Using ~/텐데 (or ~/테니까) in the middle of a sentence

In all the examples in this lesson so far, you have seen ~ㄹ/을 텐데 being used at the ends of sentences. However, you can use this usage of ~ㄹ/을 텐데 to connect two clauses as well. The meaning it takes when used like this is “it is probable that… so.” For example:

그 식당이 이미 닫았을 텐데 가지 말자 = The restaurant will probably already be closed, so let’s not go
길이 막힐 텐데 지하철로 가자 = The roads will probably be jammed, so let’s take the subway
우유가 없을 텐데 하나만 사세요 = We probably don’t have any milk, so buy one

Just by the nature of the first clause, the second clause is usually some sort of a suggestion. However, not always:
부장님이 없었을 텐데 그래도 부장님을 만나러 회사에 갔어요?  = The boss probably wasn’t there, regardless, did you go to work to meet him?

Also notice that these constructions are essentially the same as:

~ㄹ/을 것 같아서

For example:

길이 막힐 텐데 지하철로 가자 = The roads will probably be jammed, so let’s take the subway
길이 막힐 것 같아서 지하철로 가자 = The roads will probably be jammed, so let’s take the subway

Interestingly, you can substitute ~(으)니까 (Lesson 81) instead of ~ㄴ/은/는데 to the ~ㄹ/을 터이다 construction. This means you can end up with “ㄹ/을 테니까.” Using ~ㄹ/을 테니까 in this way creates a very similar (if not identical) meaning to ~ㄹ/을 텐데:

길이 막힐 테니까 지하철로 가자 = The roads will probably be jammed, so let’s take the subway
그 식당이 이미 닫았을 테니까 가지 말자 = The restaurant will probably already be closed, so let’s not go
우유가 없을 테니까 하나만 사세요 = We probably don’t have any milk, so buy one

Other examples:
학생들이 이 내용을 이해하지 못할 테니까 이 내용까지만 하세요 = The students probably won’t understand this content, so just teach them only up until this point
학생들이 이 내용을 이해하지 못할 텐데 이 내용까지만 하세요 = The students probably won’t understand this content, so just teach them only up until this point

You can also use both of these ~ㄹ/을 텐데 and ~ㄹ/을 테니까 to indicate that you are going to (or intend to) do something – and the second clause reflects that. I emphasize “you” because typically the action agent in the sentence with either of these constructions is the speaker.

Now, you will often see sources indicating that it is acceptable to use either ~ㄹ/을 텐데 or ~ㄹ/을 테니까 to express this usage of “intention.” It is my personal opinion (and the opinion of the Korean native speaker who helps me write these lessons) that it is more common and more natural to use ~ㄹ/을 테니까 and not ~ㄹ/을 텐데. Note that this only applies to this one specific meaning of “intention.” Some examples:

지금 갈 테니까 조금 더 기다려 주세요 = I’m going to leave now, so wait just a little bit longer
제가 돈을 많이 벌 테니까 걱정하지 마세요 = I am going to earn a lot of money, so don’t worry

You could also, in theory, end a sentence with this usage. However, you should treat these as incomplete sentences, and they can only really be used when the second clause can be assumed from context. This is similar to ending a sentence with “아/어서.” For example:

걱정 마. 내가 돈을 많이 벌 거라서… = Don’t worry. Because I’m going to earn a lot of money.
걱정 마. 내가 돈을 많이 벌 테니까… = Don’t worry. Because I’m going to earn a lot of money.

Wow! That’s the first real long lesson in a while. It’s a good thing, too, because this is the last lesson of Unit 4! Congratulate yourself on making it all the way up to Lesson 100!
… but don’t think that you are done yet. Oh no… I’m literally got at least 100 more lessons for you!

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Still confused about what you learned? Why not review everything that we covered in Unit 4?

If you are confident in what you learned from Lessons 92 – 100, try taking our Mini-Test where you can test your knowledge on everything you learned in those lessons. If you have done that, you can also try taking our Unit 4 Test to test yourself on everything you learned in Unit 4.

If you are not into taking the tests, you could always head directly to Unit 5 and check out our first lesson in that Unit (Lesson 101).

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