Lesson 58 (Beginner 4A Lesson 2): Can or Can't

I have a love-hate relationship with the lessons where we start a new chapter. On one hand, it's positive because it feels like progress, and usually learning vocabulary means there's less speaking. On the other hand, less speaking means I'm allowed to stay within my comfort zone. New vocabulary also means that I have extra work to do that week in importing everything to Anki.

The Quizlet importer Anki extension with audio support makes it easier on me, as I don't need to get the audio from Forvo. I'd actually installed this extension some time ago, but never tried it out until I used it by mistake instead of the usual one the last time, because in the menu both of these have the same name "Import from Quizlet".

Granted, a real person speaking is better, but since it's just a word and not a whole sentence I don't mind. Anyway, having a computer read a whole sentence for the Quizlet sentences decks is also better than not having any before. I guess if I want real native audio it's from listening to more people actually speak...

We started by finishing up the remaining sections of Chapter 15, which included Listening and Speaking (did not really do the Speaking which was "talk about your honeymoon"), Reading and Writing, Culture Note, and Pronunciation.

The Reading of the Reading and Writing section of Chapter 15 was homework for the last lesson, and Writing is the homework for this lesson. But we went through the Reading component in class too.

After covering the first grammar point for Chapter 16, we looked at 3 different sentences from various K-dramas where the actors said different lines that used this grammar.

I realised we had no breakout sessions this lesson. In terms of speaking, we still had some activities.

First, we had to say something we couldn't live without. This was related to the first K-drama sentence where the guy asked the girl if she could live without him. (I've put the sentences below under the grammar point itself.)

The second speaking activity (after watching the K-drama scenes), we had to say one thing we could or couldn't do and ask the next person if they could do that, then the next person would answer and ask another thing (order as decided by the teacher). The teacher gave the example of playing the piano, which is 피아노를 치다. The first few students who went stuck with the musical theme and went with guitar and drums (where the verb is still 치다, lit. "to hit") until the teacher banned us from using the verb. I went last (I think the teacher was being nice to me) and in the end I mentioned riding again.

Also, I realised that with Chapter 16, we are on the last chapter of the book, not sure why no new materials sent with this term. There aren't any revision notes, and it's too early for a test. There should be a new set of notes sent soon, I think, because it takes about 3 lessons to finish a chapter, and if this is first week, then we should only have enough for 2 more lessons.

Culture Note

The culture note this time is... not really a culture note?

It's about various cities (travel destinations) in Korea, and there's a flow chart. Depending on whether you answer "yes" or "no", you proceed to the next question, and at the end, there is a suggestion on where you should go.

If you answered "no" to everything, the suggestion is a cheeky "rest in your hotel room".


Back in the post for Lesson 56, I did cover a bit on the pronunciation, but said I'd go into more detail when we actually cover the pronunciation topic for the chapter:

The thing to watch out for basically are the pronunciations, particularly the first 3 above. For the last one, remember that there's more than a few final consonants (all coronals) that will give the /d/ sound and undergo the same transformation.

Essentially in all 3 cases, the stops/plosives of the final consonants become their nasal counterparts (still voiced, with place of articulation unchanged).

The rule (as given in the textbook) is: When the final consonant sounds [ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ] are followed by 'ㄴ', they are pronounced as [ㅇ, ㄴ, ㅁ].

As I've said, the stops (or plosives) turn into their nasal counterparts.

If you look at the IPA (see this table, under the row final allophones), these are the original sounds:

  1. [ㄱ] is [k̚]: Voiceless velar stop with no audible release
  2. [ㄷ] is [t̚]: Voiceless alveolar stop with no audible release
  3. [ㅂ] is [p̚]: Voiceless bilabial stop with no audible release

Note that it is [ㄱ] and not just 'ㄱ', [ㄷ] and not just 'ㄷ', and [ㅂ] and not just 'ㅂ'. This means it applies to the whole ㄱ-family and ㅂ-family since they make the same sound in the final consonant position. As for [ㄷ], well, that includes all the coronals.

All obstruents (stops, affricates, fricatives) become stops with no audible release at the end of a word: all coronals collapse to [t̚], all labials to [p̚], and all velars to [k̚].

If followed by 'ㄴ', they change into:

  1. [ㅇ] which is [ŋ]: Voiceless velar nasal
  2. [ㄴ] which is [n]: Voiceless alveolar nasal
  3. [ㅁ] which is [m]: Voiceless bilabial nasal


  1. 먹는 [멍는]
  2. 읽는 [잉는]
  3. 맛있는 [마신는]
  4. 춥네요 [춤네요]

This rule was also (indirectly) mentioned before when learning the grammar A/V-네요.


1. V-(으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다

Literally translated, this is can/be able to (있다) or cannot/be unable to (없다).

It is used to express ability (disability) or a possibility (impossibility).

V-(으)ㄹ 수 없다 is identical in meaning to 못 V.

  • 이 영화를 볼 수 없어요 = 이 영화를 못 봐요

Because 못 V is a much more concise way of expressing the same idea, Koreans usually use it when speaking. You mostly see the V-(으)ㄹ 수 없다 form only in formal writing.

However, there is no shorter way to express V-(으)ㄹ 수 있다, and so it is used even in speech.

The conjugation is pretty much as you'd expect based on the form:

  • 받침 O + -을 수 있다/없다
  • 받침 X, ㄹ + -ㄹ 수 있다/없다


  1. 동생은 매운 음식을 먹을 수 있어요. (My younger sibling can eat spicy food.)
  2. 일본어를 할 수 없어요. (I can't speak Japanese.)
    • (= 일본어를 못 해요.)
  3. 저는 케이크를 만들 수 있어요. (I can make a cake.)

Bonus Examples (from the K-drama scenes):

  1. 너. 나 없이 살 수 있어? (Can you live without me?)
  2. 사랑 없는 결혼, 할 수 있어요? (Can you accept a marriage without love?)
  3. 나 너무 믿 지마. 나는 니 옆에 계속 있어 줄 수가 없어. (Don't trust me too much. I can't always stay by your side.)
    • The 가 after 수 is an emphasis on the "can't".

And yes, they were all said by a guy to a girl. Probably male lead to female lead, I don't know. I don't watch K-dramas so I don't even know what shows they were or who the actors were.


Korean English Notes
눈사람 snowman
모임 gathering
계획하다 to plan
연락하다 [열라카다] to contact Whenever you have ㄴ and ㄹ, [ㄴ] changes to [ㄹ]. This is even if the order is reversed, such as in 설날 [설랄].
준비하다 to prepare
축하하다 to celebrate
초대하다 to invite
식사하다 to have a meal For 식사, you always use 하다, never 먹다.
선물하다 to give a present
들어오다 to come in; to enter Not to be confused with 들아오다 (to return)
시간을 보내다 to spend time
사 가다 to buy and bring The grammar is actually 사(서) 가다. You can also have something like 만들어(서) 가다.
돈을 찾다 to withdraw money
춤을 추다 to dance 춤 can be replaced to indicate a different type of dance.
이사(를) 하다 to move (house)
별일 [별릴] something special 별 is from 别 in 特别. 일 is "matter" as we previously saw. 별일 있어요? = This is asking if there's any "news" in the person's life such as a new house, job, etc.
휴일 holiday One day. Otherwise it's 휴가.
답장 reply
음료수 [음뇨수] beverage
부자 the rich 富者
점수 score
세제 laundry detergent 세 is something clean, like 세수 is to wash your face.
열심히 hard, diligently1
일찍 early1
늦게 late1 늦다 can be either a verb ("I'm late" as in "I arrive late") or adjective ("the hour is late"). Depending on which, then you either have 늦는 or 늦은 for verb and adjective respectively when it's a noun modifier.
조금 a little1
많이 a lot1 많은 + N (as noun modifier)
빨리 quickly1 빠른 + N (as noun modifier)
천천히 slowly 1
by the way
인어공주 The Little Mermaid This came from an example sentence where the kids were saying they can watch this movie, and the accompanying picture had a movie poster which included this movie they could watch. (They couldn't watch 007, 공공칠.)
기어가다 to crawl
믿다 to believe in something; to trust someone
위험하다 to be dangerous

Note: This was originally published on December 24, but something weird happened and this post got replaced with the Mindshift Week 3 post, which had become privately published. (I had previously re-published the Mindshift post as I'd noticed a typo in it, or more accurately, I think it was a ' instead of a " to close something I'd quoted. Maybe I mis-clicked.) Once I re-published the old Mindshift Week 3 post to the blog (publicly), that was fixed and the post could be accessed from the old URL (it's handy to have an archive to check). Essentially, the blog had 2 copies of the Mindshift Week 3 post, one published on the original date back in April, and another on December 24. Then, I naturally deleted the copy that was published on December 24. This note ended up looking like it was never published before (as I had the option of publishing it to another Listed blog). I republished it and it got a new URL. But hey, it's Christmas, so blessed Christmas. :D

  1. All these are adverbs. Adverbs are placed right before the verb. They should not be separated from the verb by a noun. Only noun modifiers come before nouns. 많이 음식을 먹었어요 is wrong. It's 음식을 많이 먹었어요. Or you can say 많은 음식을 먹었어요. 많이 is an adverb; 많은 is a noun modifier. Also, yay, footnotes are fixed. 

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