Lesson 29 (Beginner 2A L5): Contrasting Clauses and Formal Speech

Today was an intense grammar lesson, covering 2 more grammar points after our word quiz.

What was more interesting was that I found out from my friend, the guy who is still taking the class with me, that our previous teacher actually quit teaching at the school. Or, well, she quit at one point, but now she's back. Or maybe she never left (because of the Covid situation), I don't know. My friend thinks she may be teaching part-time.

Her last day was the day of our last lesson before the break, so that was Lesson 24. I had a sixth sense about this, that she was quitting the school, but I wasn't sure. On the last lesson, I was right on time and missed their informal photo-taking session (which was later posted to the KakaoTalk group) and probably when she mentioned it to them.

Yesterday, he sent me a message with a screenshot from Instagram asking me if the person in the picture was our previous teacher. The picture in that Instagram post by the school included a screenshot of a Zoom meeting (basically, a class), and our previous teacher was in it along with some other people (students, obviously).

I replied today just before the class since I had so many Zoom meetings this past week that the history no longer included the class and I had to dig out the meeting details, saying that it does look like her.

In response, he replied to say that "it seems she came back to teach" and so in my mind, I was like, Wait, what? She left? (It's interesting too because probably a week or so ago, to satisfy my curiosity/sixth sense, I did check the school's website which keeps a list of the teachers, and she was still on the list... and I know they updated it recently since they say it's closed for to the Circuit Breaker period... So, I chalked it up to me having a wrong feeling about this.)

Then he told me about how our last lesson was her last day.

So... it turns out my sixth sense was right.

(Her KakaoTalk name is still without the 선생님 though, which is something I noticed last week or so... basically when I try to submit homework to our current teacher. And... I just read her Korean (actual) name again, I tend to skip that since she puts her English name too, and realised that one of my new classmates basically chose the same Korean name as this other teacher... ok. I'm clearly not very observant.)

Anyway, digression over.

Word Quiz

We started with the word quiz.

There were a list of words we had to write in Korean given their English translations. Some we were to write the basic (dictionary/infinitive) form, for the others we were to write the present tense (casual) form.

I made two mistakes. Maybe I should really consider forcing myself to type, or really write. It feels very unfamiliar to me because I've not actually written the words.

(I wrote 가겁다 instead of 가볍다, and 맑어요 instead of 맑아요. For the second one, I've gotten something similar wrong before with 닦다.)


0. Extra Grammar: 와/과, 하고 and (이)랑

Due to the homework where we were converting a polite-casual speech text to the polite-fromal speech, I decided to use 와/과 in place of 하고 since 와/과 was meant to be formal, right?

(Actually, you definitely can use 와/과 even in the casual 해요체 speech from the textbook examples. I don't know if the converse is true, using 하 instead of 와/과 in formal 하십시오체. I also discovered today that the textbook doesn't really mention 와/과 as being formal, it was all in the additional handout...)

I had to get straightened out on the 와/과 and 하고 thing, whether 와/과 not only means (formal) "and", but also "with", same as 하고.

This site provides the answer: Yes.

This example demonstrates it:

나는 철수와 같이 살아. (I live with Chul Su.)

It's also in the description, but the next sentence goes on to talk about the spoken language thing -(이)랑, which I've not encountered and my brain wasn't up for it.

It's something that I already had a question about some time ago, but never bothered to find out since, hey, I didn't need it. Since, you know, we never learnt 하십시오체 formally (pun was not intended, but, whatever) until today.

Basically, I am lazy and I don't search things all that diligently. More on this when we cover the second grammar point today (third for this chapter).

I went to try to find a source that says 와/과 is formal, and then I came across this article... which does that, but also discusses (이)랑, the thing that I was avoiding in the other link. Sigh. So I ended up finding out about it anyway.

This is also interchangeable and has the same meaning, but you use 랑 if there is no batchim, and 이랑 when there is. (It's actually reminding me of the N(이)지만... which I shall now get into.)

2. A/V-지만, N(이)지만

This is used to connect two contrasting clause. In a nutshell, it functions like "but".

For adjectives (A) and verbs (V), you simply remove the 다 and replace it with 지만. For nouns, if it has batchim, you use N이지만, but if it does not, then you use N지만.


  1. 한국어 공부는 어렵지만 재미있어요. (Studying Korean is difficult but interesting.)
    • Adjective example
  2. 어제는 학교에 갔지만 오늘은 안 가요. (Yesterday I went to school but today I did not.)
    • Verb example
    • Notice the use of 은/는 as the contrast particle. This particle is added to the thing you are comparing, in this case, the time.
    • Lesson 26 covered the different uses of this particle.
  3. 저는 회사원이지만 여동생은 학생이에요. (I am a company employee, but my younger sister is a student.)
    • Noun example
    • The way the teacher described it, the 이 seemed to be part of the 이에요, the "am". So it is only after the fact that I realised that this is in fact the noun example (not verb) as 회사원 is a noun.
    • Again, notice 은/는 being used for contrast.

은/는 is attached to nouns in contrasting clauses. You would generally not use 이/가.

The teacher said that it's not strictly wrong (ungrammatical) to use 이/가, but a sentence like 스티븐 씨 카메라 비싸지만 제 카메라 싸요 sounds unnatural.

One of my classmates asked if it's okay to use 이/가 for the first clause, but 은/는 for the second clause.

The teacher said that that is fine in conversation (e.g. when the speaker isn't sure how he wants to end his sentence), but minimally 은/는 must be used for the second clause.

She said that the advantage of using 은/는 for the first clause is that if she just heard the first clause with 은/는, she would expect to hear a contrast in the second half even before it's been said.

Past Tense (Part 1)

This was where things get a bit... crazy.

Look at the second example above: 어제는 학교에 지만 오늘은 안 가요. (Yesterday I went to school but today I did not.)

  • With present tense, you simply slice off the 다 and attach the stem to 지만.
  • For the past tense, you conjugate it (verb/adjective) into the past tense form, remove the 어요 that comes behind, and add what is left to 지만.

Past tense (casual-polite) of 가다 is 갔어요. So, remove 어요 and you are left with 갔.

For the special ㅂ adjectives from last week, such as 덥다, you have 더웠어요 as the past tense form. This means it becomes 더웠지만.

This isn't the end, because it will also apply to the next grammar point!

3. A/V-습니다/ㅂ니다

I was frankly quite surprised we were tackling 2 grammar points today from the handout. (We didn't touch the textbook today.)

The teacher said that we just needed to remember these two things (set phrases that we have memorised as-is), and we would remember how to do the conjugation:

  1. Nice to meet you: 반갑습니다
  2. Thank you: 감사합니다

The rule is simple. For statements:

  1. If there is batchim, add -습니다
  2. If there is no batchim, add -ㅂ니다

Remember I mentioned above about me being lazy? I should have looked this up and made my life revising on Duolingo that much easier. (Duolingo uses the formal speech for their sentences in most of the exercises.)

It actually makes a lot of sense. If there is batchim, how do you add the ㅂ?

In any case, the ㅂ sound is softened to [ㅁ] because of the ㄴ sound that follows. It is [슴니다] and not [습니다]. And it's [함니다] not [합니다].

  • 읽다 → 읽습니다 [읽슴니다]
  • 보다 → 봅니다 [봄니다]
  • 듣다 → 듣습니다 [듣슴니다]

If it is a question and not a statement, it's not 다, but ? The 다 is replaced with 까 (which we've also seen before in the first chapter).

Past Tense (Part 2)

You know, it actually isn't as mind-blowing when I'm typing this out now, but earlier during the lesson, it was really quite a lot of information to process and then use.

To obtain the past tense form, you do the same as for 지만. Conjugate it to the casual-polite past tense form, remove the 어요, and then add -습니다.

(Because of how the past tense is, I believe you end up always with -습니다 and don't ever add -ㅂ니다.)

  • 읽다 → 읽었어요 → 읽었습니다
  • 보다 → 봤어요 → 봤습니다
  • 듣다* → 들었어요 → 들었습니다

(Ugh, the Markdown strikethrough with ~~ still isn't working I see, so I had to resort to using HTML tags.)

*This is a special conjugation. I encountered this in the First Step Korean course. The teacher said this verb's irregular conjugation will be covered in chapter 8. But really, it's relatively straightforward, the final consonant ㄷ becomes ㄹ.

Whew! The teacher said that chapter 7 is the hardest in this book that we are using. Chapter 8 will be easier. I don't know whether to be sad or happy? I need a break but I also like the challenge.


Korean English Notes
평일 weekday Sino-Korean word from 平日. I am not sure how (or even if) this differs from 주중 (週中) which was taught in the First Step Korean course.
동사 verb Sino-Korean word from 動詞 (动词), which is still the Mandarin Chinese term for it.
형용사 adjective Sino-Korean word from 形容詞 (形容词), which is still the Mandarin Chinese term for it.
축구 soccer


  1. Since we learnt the formal, we learnt also that to ask what someone is doing, instead of 뭐 해요? you ask 무엇을 합니까? We have already encountered 무엇.
    1. What about 뭘? 뭘 came up in the First Step Korean course, but not once in this course I'm taking. Wiktionary says it's actually a contraction of both 무엇을 and 뭐를.
    2. Why is 뭐 special in the sentence, in that the object particle is dropped? Is this another case of it being dropped because it's spoken language?
  2. Since I dug up that post above and answered the first question, the second question is also somewhat cleared up when a classmate asked about 저 and 나, but not entirely. The teacher said that 저 is more polite and formal. 나 very informal and is what children would speak in the home, it's also what you use for family and close friends. I think the point is that both 해요체 and 하십시오체 are polite, they are simply used in different social situations (e.g. 해요체 in a café, 하십시오체 in the office). 나 is really more for... the "not polite" (informal?) speech in that sense. I'm still not entirely clear about the "informal" and "casual" distinction. I believe I have not heard the teacher refer to 해요체 as "informal" but only "casual". I don't know if they are meant to be different. It does not help that I think they are interchangeable (whether they are or not is my question) and have used them interchangeably, partly because it's always "formal" vs "informal" e.g. in French, so I took the "casual" to mean "informal" when it was presented in contrast to "formal". So TL;DR is, does "informal" and "casual" mean the same thing?

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