~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 VS ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다

by | Apr 14, 2017 | Blog, Grammar | 1 comment

(Estimated reading time: 7 minutes)

~(으)ㄹ/(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 is probably one of the most used grammar particles in everyday conversations, business settings and basically everywhere! You would have heard this so much in dramas that you probably could recognise it right away.

Very quickly, ~(으)ㄹ/(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 translates to “it seems that” or “I think”, basically a guess or making an uncertain statement.

In this blog post, we’ll explore in-depth how to use ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 and ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 differently and accurately. I did some research and my Korean teacher (Ms Goo Hara, thank you!) at Daehan explained some of the most important differences.

Be sure to leave comments if you have anything to add/clarify!

Things to note

1a. ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 is used to express a weak guess.

In English, a guess is just a guess and there isn’t exactly a strength metre to gauge how certain a guess is unless specified with adjectives (eg. This is just a guess/This is a very uncertain guess, etc…)

But apparently in Korean, ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 shows a very weak and soft guess, sometimes to be polite. Often times, this is because there is either little or no evidence to support the guess.

Examples:

먹을 것 같다 = I think (someone) will probably eat

지금은 배고 안 파서 이따가 먹을 것 같아요.
I’m not hungry now so I think I will probably eat later.

할 것 같다 = I think (someone) will probably do

다음 주에 손님이 올 거라서 내일 청소를 할 것 같아요.
Guests will come next week so I think I will probably do cleaning tomorrow.

좋을 것 같다 = I think it will probably be good

이번 주말에 시간이 돼서 같이 먹으면 좋을 것 같아요.
I am free this week so I think it will probably be good if we eat together.

맛있을 것 같다 = I think it will probably be delicious

여기 맛집은 텔레비전에서 나온 적이 있어서 음식이 아마 맛있을 것 같아요.
This famous restaurant came out on television before so I think the food will probably be delicious.

사장님일 것 같다 = I think it will probably be the boss

계산대에 앉아 있는 여자는 아마도 사장님일 것 같아요.
The lady sitting at the cashier counter, I think she will probably be the boss.

1b. ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 can only be used to express something the speaker has not yet experienced or happened.

Because this grammar particle is using ~(으)ㄹ which is indicating something in the future, therefore it’s always only used when it’s something that hasn’t happened yet or something the speaker has not yet experienced.

Examples:

먹을 것 같다 = I think (someone) will probably eat

지금은 배고 안 파서 이따가 먹을 것 같아요. (O)
I’m not hungry now so I think I will probably eat later.
어젯밤에 누나가 배고 안 파서 안 먹을 것 같았요. (X)
Yesterday, my elder sister was not hungry so I think she probably didn’t eat.

할 것 같다 = I think (someone) will probably do

다음 주에 손님이 올 거라서 내일 청소를 할 것 같아요. (O)
Guests will come next week so I think I will probably do cleaning tomorrow.
와, 진짜 더러워요. 아마도 아직 청소를 안 할 것 같았요. (X)
Wow, it’s really dirty. Perhaps, I haven’t done cleaning yet.

좋을 것 같다 = I think it will probably be good

이번 주말에 시간이 돼서 같이 먹으면 좋을 것 같아요. (O)
I am free this weekend so I think it will probably be good if we eat together.
지난 주말은 같이 맛있게 먹어서 좋을 것 같았어요. (X)
We ate deliciously together last week so I think it was probably good.

맛있을 것 같다 = I think it will probably be delicious

여기 맛집은 텔레비전에서 나온 적이 있어서 음식이 아마 맛있을 것 같아요. (O)
This famous restaurant came out on television before so I think the food will probably be delicious.
여기 맛집은 텔레비전에서 노론 적이 있어서 아까 먹은 음식이 아마 맛있을 것 같았어요 (X)
This famous restaurant came out on television before so I thought the food was probably delicious.

사장님일 것 같다 = I think he/she will probably be the boss

계산대에 앉아 있는 여자는 아마도 사장님일 것 같아요. (O)
The lady sitting at the cashier counter, I think she will probably be the boss.
어제 계산대에 앉아 있었는 여자는 아마도 사장님일 것 같았어요 (X)
The lady who was sitting at the cashier counter yesterday, I think she was probably the boss.

2a. ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 is used to express a stronger guess than ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다.

When the speaker is more certain of the facts and is able to gather some substantial evidence, he or she would use ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다.

In most cases, it’s usually something the speaker knows already but doesn’t want to make certain statements to be polite, tactful or just to soften the tone. In some cases, the speaker is certain of the fact but do not wish to sound too straightforward.

2b. ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 can only be used to express something the speaker has/had already experienced or happened.

An extension of the previous point and in contrast to its ~(으)ㄹ counterpart, ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 is usually used to describe things that have/had happened. That’s also why the speaker would know of some partial facts or pieces of evidence to support his or her guess/claim/statement.

In almost all cases, using ~(으)ㄴ 것 같다 indicates past tense for verbs and ~았/었/였/했는 것 같다 for adjectives, while ~는 것 같다 indicates present tense for verbs and ~(으)ㄴ 것 같다 for adjectives. They all weight the same on the certainty scale (if there is even such a thing), though.

Examples:

먹는 것 같다 = I think (someone) is probably eating
먹은 것 같다 = I think someone was probably eating/had eaten

지금 점심 시간이라서 사장님은 먹는 것 같아요. (O)
It’s lunch time so I think the boss is probably eating.
지금 점심 시간이 끝나서 사장님은 (이미) 먹은 것 같아요. (O)
Lunch time is over now so I think the boss probably had eaten (already).

하는 것 같다 = I think (someone) is probably doing
한 것 같다 = I think (someone) probably did/had done

사장님은 회의실에 방금 들아가서 지금 회의를 하는 것 같아요. (O)
The boss went into the meeting room just now so I think she is probably having a meeting now.
사장님은 회의실에서 방금 나가서 (방금) 회의를 한 것 같아요. (O)
The boss came out of the meeting room so I think she probably had a meeting (just now).

좋은 것 같다 = I think it is probably good
좋았는 것 같다 = I think it was probably good

그동안 곽 선생님이 잘 가르쳐서 곽 선생님한테 배우면 좋은 것 같아요. (O)
Teacher Kwak taught me well all this while so I think it is probably good to learn from Teacher Kwak.
그동안 곽 선생님이 잘 가르쳐서 곽 선생님한테 배우기는 좋았는 것 같아요. (O)
Teacher Kwak taught me well all this while so I think it was probably good to learn from Teacher Kwak.

맛있는 것 같다 = I think it is probably delicious
맛있었는 것 같다 = I think it was probably delicious

그 사람들은 정말 빨리 먹어서 음식이 맛있는 것 같아요. (O)
Those people are eating really fast so I think it is probably delicious.
그 사람들은 정말 빨리 먹어서 음식이 맛있었는 것 같아요. (O)
Those people were eating really fast so I think it was probably delicious.

사장님인 것 같다 = I think it is probably the boss.

저는 날마다 계산대에 앉아 있는 여자를 봐서 사장님인 것 같아요. (O)
The lady sitting at the cashier counter, I think she is probably the boss.

3. Grammar note – Verbs, adjectives and nouns usages

Verbs

~(으)ㄴ 것 같다 (Past)

~는 것 같다 (Present)

~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 (Future)

Adjectives

~았/었/였/했는 것 같다 (Past)

~(으)ㄴ 것 같다 (Present) with the exception of 없는/있는

~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 (Future)

Nouns

~인 것 같다 (Present)

~일 것 같다 (Future)

Same rules apply but not as commonly used; ~(으)ㄹ/(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 particles are usually used with verbs and adjectives.

Summary

~을 것 같다

  • ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 is used to express a weak guess
  • ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 can only be used to express something the speaker has not yet experienced or happened

~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다

  • ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 is used to express a stronger guess than ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다
  • ~(으)ㄴ/는 것 같다 can only be used to express something the speaker has/had already experienced or happened

Grammar notes

  • Verbs: ~(으)ㄴ 것 같다 (Past); ~는 것 같다 (Present); ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 (Future)
  • Adjectives: ~았/었/였/했는 것 같다 (Past); ~(으)ㄴ 것 같다 (Present) with the exception of 없는/있는; ~(으)ㄹ 것 같다 (Future)
  • Nouns: ~인 것 같다 (Present); ~일 것 같다 (Future)

Hope you’ve understood (more or less, at least, I hope…)! If not, please leave comments below and we can discuss about it!

References

Korean Wiki Project

How To Study Korean

Daehan Korean Language Centre

1 Comment

  1. danini

    좋았는 것 같다 is not correct. korean is not using 좋았는 것 같다.
    그동안 곽 선생님이 잘 가르쳐서 곽 선생님한테 배우기는 좋았는 것 같아요.(x)
    그동안 곽 선생님이 잘 가르쳐서 곽 선생님한테 배우기는 좋았던 것 같아요.(o)

    Reply

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