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새 = bird
똥 = poo
향기 = good smell/fragrance
암내 = smelly armpits
생계 = life/living
재산 = wealth/fortune
남녀 = men and women/couple
사장 = boss of company
동사 = verb
명사 = noun
부사 = adverb
형용사 = adjective
위원회 = committee
일반적 = usual
단계적 = in phases
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In this lesson, you will learn how to add ~지 or its formal equivalent ~죠 to the end of a sentence. The meaning that this grammatical form has is usually tricky for foreign learners of Korean to pick up on – but don’t worry, I am here to explain everything to you! Let’s get started!
Turn a Statement into a question using ~지/~죠
By adding ~지/~죠 to the end of a sentence (i.e. attached to a verb or adjective) you can turn a statement into a question. What do I mean by that? Well, I can give you a perfect example.
First off: I am from Canada, and in Canada (much to the humor of Americans) we say “eh” at the end of a sentence to create this same meaning. For example, if I just wanted to say that ‘it is cold,’ I would say:
It is cold
However, by placing ‘eh’ at the end of that sentence, I can turn that sentence into a question. For example:
It is cold, eh? = It is cold, isn’t it?
~지/죠 can be used to have this function in Korean sentences. For example:
선생님! 바쁘죠? = Teacher! You are busy, aren’t you?
가기 싫지? = You don’t want to go, don’t you?
네가 지금 한국말을 잘하지? = You speak Korean well now, don’t you?
이 향기가 좋지? = This smell/fragrance is nice, isn’t it?
그 사람의 가족이 재산이 많죠? = That person’s family has a lot of wealth/assets, right?
Notice that ~지 and ~죠 get attached directly to the stem of a verb or adjective in every case. No irregulars come into play when attaching ~ㅈ to the stem of words, so it is always easy to use..
You can add ~지/~죠 to sentences in the past tense as well. In these cases, ~지/~죠 gets attached directly to ~았/~었. For example:
어제 학교에 안 갔죠? = You didn’t go to school yesterday, did you?
어제 월급을 받았죠? = You got paid yesterday, didn’t you?
결심을 아직 안 했죠? = You still haven’t decided yet, have you?
똥을 쌌지? = You went poo, didn’t you?
그때 마음이 조금 허전했죠? = You were a little bit sad/empty at that time, weren’t you?
It can also be used in the future tense. For example:
선생님도 갈 거죠? = Teacher, you are going too, right?
밥을 안 먹을 거죠? = You aren’t going to eat, right?
사장님! 내일 손님을 안내할 거죠? = Boss! You will guide the guests around tomorrow, right?
위원회가 내일 모일 거죠? = The committee will meet tomorrow, right?
In all of the examples provided above, the speaker is asking the listener a question. Notice that in all cases (just from the style/feel of the sentence) that the speaker sort of knows the answer to the question, and is almost just re-affirming what he/she thinks of the situation. Again, notice the difference in feel between these two:
날씨가 추워요? = Is it cold?
날씨가 춥죠? = It is cold, isn’t it?
The speaker in the first example probably does not know the answer to the question (hence, the reason why he/she is asking the question). However, in the second example, the speaker might know the answer to the question – but is re-affirming his/her beliefs of the situation.
This same principle can be applied to questions in which the sentence has a question word in it as well. For example:
This is the same phenomenon we saw when ~지/죠 was added to sentences without a question word, but in these cases the addition of “eh?” or “isn’t it?” to the English translation is illogical. For example:
점심으로 뭐 먹었죠? = What did you eat for lunch, didn’t you?
This English translation is illogical
Instead, the four sentences above using “~지/죠” have the same translation of those sentences not using “~지/죠.” Notice the following sentences have the same translation as the four sentences shown above:
While those sentences have the same translation, their meaning is slightly different. As with the sentences without a question word, adding ~지/죠 gives the sentence the subtle difference that the speaker is reconfirming his/her beliefs.
Even though the speaker is asking a question (and therefore, inherently doesn’t know the answer to the question), one would use those examples to ask a question when he/she sort of knows the answer to the question (and by “sort of” I mean that maybe the speaker forgot the answer or something similar).
The only way you could translate those sentences to accurately show this meaning is to add a lot of additional words. For example:
카드를 어디에 두었어요? = Where did you place/put the card? Or “Ah, where did you put that card, again? I could have sworn I saw you put it down somewhere, but I can’t remember where you put it.”
In practice, this same form is often used when people are asking questions to themselves. For example, if somebody lost their card, you might hear them say:
“아~ 카드를 어디 두었지?” = Ah, where did I put my card again?… I just had it and now I can’t remember where I put it.
(내가) 밥을 먹을까? = Should I eat rice?
(내가) 뭐 먹을까? = What should I eat?
Regardless of tense, it is unnatural to use ~지 to ask yourself a question when there is not a question word being used in the sentence. For example:
밥을 먹지? = I am eating, right? – (This is illogical if directed to yourself)
밥을 먹었지? = I ate, right? – (This is illogical if directed to yourself)
밥을 먹을 거지? = I will eat, right? – (This is illogical if directed to yourself)
All of those sentences are logical if directed at somebody else.
Those sentences are illogical because the speaker is asking himself what he is doing.
This is also illogical if the acting agent (the subject) of the sentence is another person. For example:
선생님이 밥을 먹었지? = The teacher ate, right?
(This sentence is perfectly logical if you ask it to another person, but not when asked to yourself)
However, it is very natural to use ~지 to ask yourself a question when there is a question word being used in the sentence. The acting agent of the sentence can either be you or some other person/thing. For example:
내가 뭐 먹었지? = What did I eat again?
선생님이 어디 갔지? = Where did the teacher go?
그 사람이 누구지? = Who is that teacher?
그 사람이 누구였지? = Who was that person?
이 명사를 어떻게 쓰지? = How do I use this noun?
동사와 형용사의 차이가 뭐지? = What is the difference between a verb and adjective?
When asking yourself about what you should do, who you should meet, when you should go, where you should go, or how you should do something, you will commonly see the following forms:
뭐 하지? = What should I do?
누구를 만나지? = Who should I meet?
언제 가지? = When should I go?
어디 가지? = Where should I go?
어떻게 하지? = How should I do it?
밥을 뭐 먹지? = What should I eat?
바퀴를 어떻게 갈지? = How should/can I change the wheel?
The last thing I want to say about this usage is that you should notice that using “~지/죠” like this effectively softens the question somebody asks. Because the usage sort of implies that the speaker also knows (or should know) the answer as well, asking a question with “~지/죠” makes the question less direct and a little bit softer. There may be some situations where you might find “~지/죠” being used, where there no way the speaker could/should know the answer to the question. In these cases, the use of “~지/죠” simply softens the question, and there really isn’t any additional subtle meaning.
Though ~지/~죠 usually takes on the meaning described above, it is also commonly used as an ending that is placed on the end of a verb or adjective as a response to a question. When you respond to a question with the use of ~지/~죠, it gives the response a feeling that one is also saying “of course” or something like that. For example:
In Lesson 79 you learned about the word 당연하다 and how it is often used as ‘당연하지’ to mean ‘of course!’ Instead of responding with the verb that was in the question (as in above with “가다” and “배고프다”), you can simply respond with “당연하다” with the addition of “~지/죠”. For example:
When used like this ~지 is much more commonly used than ~죠. The reason behind this is that it is generally informal to use this conjugation in this way, and it doesn’t make sense to use a formal conjugation in an informal way.
In these cases, the only way to distinguish whether the speaker is asking a question or simply using ~지/~죠 to and a sentence in a normal way is by the context and by the tone of the person’s voice. In most cases, it is clear that the speaker is asking a question because (as in any language) their tone gets higher as they end a sentence.
Using ~지/~죠 with ~아/어야하다/되다
In Lesson 46 you learned that you can add ~아/어야 하다/되다 to words to indicate that one “must” do something. For example:
저는 지금 가야 돼요 = I must go now
~지 (and less commonly ~죠) can actually replace 하다/되다 and the respective conjugation that would be added to that word. For example:
Replacing 하다/되다 with ~지 or ~죠 is fairly colloquial. Therefore, while ~지 is commonly used in this form ~죠 is slightly less common, and only really used if you are in a situation where you are very close to a person, but he/she is older than you so you want to be slightly more formal than just using ~지.
I’m not sure if a textbook would say the same thing, but that is what I have noticed with my experience with the language.
However, the usage that I described earlier in this lesson (where ~지/죠) can be used to change a statement into a question is used very frequently in informal (~지) and formal (~죠) situations.
That’s it for this lesson!