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Episode 31: Everything You Need to Know About ~것 같다!


I am finally moving guys! No more student accommodations! Hello real world of taxes, bills and rent! ㅠ___ㅠ Please forgive me for taking a while to release blog posts! Moving is so time consuming and I have so much to learn in terms of contracts and rent payments and bills and all that grown-up adult stuff. I am trying my best to keep up with our Korean studies!

As for what we will be discussing today... boy it's one heck of a complicated topic! I don't want to scare you guys, but I will be honest and say that I am still in the process of figuring ~것 같다 out for myself. I'm currently having struggles with forming complex sentences in my head but I am practicing hard so I'm positive that all information in this blog post should be correct! Let me know if you spot a typo or a mistake :)

Revisiting ~는 것:

Interestingly, ~것 같다 stems out of ~는 것 and here is how it does that:

나는 밥을 먹을 것이다- I will eat rice

This sentence should be familiar to those of you who have watched my video on ~는 것. All we do is add the future tense version of ~는 것 (~을 것) to the verb and then follow it up with 이다 (to be). Look what happens when we take out the 이다:

나는 밥을 먹을 것...

How would you translate this sentence? I personally would come up with something like "I am the thing that eats rice." Obviously this sounds awkward so we need to have a verb at the end of this sentence to have it make sense. How about we add 같다 to it?

나는 밥을 먹을 것 같아요- I might eat rice (I think I will eat rice)

Combining ~는 것 with 같다 allows the speaker to express his thoughts, opinions, judgements, etc.

What is 같다?

On it's own this verb has a meaning of "to be the same" or "to be similar."

저 노래방은 이 노래방와 같아요- This karaoke bar is similar to that one

~것 같다 Future Tense Examples:

저는 친구들이랑 내일 낚시를 할 것 같아요- I think I will go fishing with my friends tomorrow

우리 어머니는 저것을 싫어할 것 같아요- My mom will probably not like this thing

내일 비가 올 것 같아요- It might rain tomorrow

이 책이 재미있을 것 같아요- I think this book will be interesting

From these examples we can conclude a couple of important things:

1. The topic of the sentence doesn't have to be a person or yourself; it can be a thing or an object as well. In the first two examples we are talking about people (my friends and I, my mother, etc.) but the topics of the next two sentences are inanimate objects (rain and book).

2. ~것 같다 can modify both verbs and adjectives: 할 것 같아요, 읽을 것같아요 (verbs) or 재미있을 것 같아요, 아플 것 같아요 (adjectives)

3. The topic of the sentence can be in any tense: future, past, present, etc.

~것 같다 in Present and Past Tense:

Now that we've gone over how to express thoughts/opinions about future events, I want you to know that it is posible to change the conjugation of the verb/adjective in front of ~것 같다, in order to indicate that whatever is being talked about in the sentence is in past or present tense.

So let's think ~는 것 for a moment. Adding ~는 to the verb indicates present tense, however that only works with action verbs. With descriptive verbs of adjective we have to add ~ㄴ/은. Sounds confusing? Here are a few examples to make it more clear:

어머니는 기다리고 있는 것 같아요- I think my mom is waiting for me

기다리고 있다- to be waiting (action verb)

내 형은 집에 가는 것 같아요- I think my brother is going home

가다- to go (action verb)

친구가 아픈 것 같아요- I think my friend is hurt

아프다- to be hurt (adjective)

그 음식은 건강에 나쁜 것 같아요- I think this food is unhealthy

나쁘다- to be bad (adjective)

이 물건이 비싼 것 같아요- I think this item is expensive

비싸다- to be expensive (adjective)

*The verb 이다 (to be) as conjugated as an adjective, therefore it will turn into 인 in present tense:

식사가 한식인 것 같다- I think this food is Korean

그 아기 남자인 것 같아요- I think this baby is a boy

**Adjectives that end on 하다, 있다 or 없다 conjugate like action verbs so we add ~는 to them:

이 반찬이 맛없는 것 같아요- I think the side dishes don't taste nice

누나가 지금 수영장에서 수영하는 것 같아요- I think my sister is swimming at the pool now

After figuring out present tense, past tense should be fairly simple because all you've got to do is add ~ㄴ/은 to either verbs or adjectives. Thank God past tense doesn't have distinctions between verbs and adjectives! :D

부장님이 그 일을 이미 다 한 것 같아요- I think the boss has done all the work already

엄마가 회사에 간 것 같아요- I think my mother went to work

방에 있는 램프가 더 밝은 것 같아요- I think the lamp in the room was brighter


When looking at the sentences above, we must keep in mind that there had to be some contextual clues (either from a situation that you have observed, or an action that you did/doing/will do, or the conversation that you're having) for you to say these sentences. For example:

누나가 매일 공부하는 것 같아요- I think my sister studies every day

You would most probably say this sentence in a situation where your sister has an exam coming up and her friends are curious as to why she hasn't been hanging out with them.

누나가 매일 공부한 것 같아요- I think my sister studied every day

This sentence would be used to perhaps justify the fact that your sister has been feeling carefree after the test.

In the end, what I'm trying to get at is that taking into consideration the nature of these sentences you wouldn't just say them out of nowhere. You will, therefore, have to rely on contextual clues :)

More About Past Tense ~것 같다:

There is actually another way to form past tense sentences with ~것 같다. Instead of adding ~ㄴ/은 to the verb, we add ~었/았을. Even though both ways give your sentence the exact same tense, the meaning is slightly different. It's literally a tiny nuance and if you're a beginner you don't have to concern yourself with it but those of you who are curious might find out something new for themselves :) Let's look at two sentences:

1. 아빠가 돈을 이미 낸 것 같아요- It seems like father has paid already

You would use this sentence when you've obtained concrete evidence of whatever you're talking about. Let's say your family was at a restaurant and you saw your father taking out his wallet or some other evidence of the sort; that is when you would use this sentence.

2. 아빠가 돈을 이미 냈을 것 같아요- Dad has probably already paid

This sentence implies a blind guess without any evidence. It is simply an assumption.

Let's look at another example to solidify this nuance;

1. 부장님이 살이 찐 것 같아요- It seems like the boss gained weight

This sentence would be said in a situation where an employee is expressing his/her opinion about the appearance of his/her boss after the boss has returned from a vacation. The boss' appearance might have changed, which significantly influenced the assumption of the employee.

2. 부장님이 살이 쪘을 것 같아요- The boss has probably gained weight

In this case the employee wouldn't have had to see the appearance of the boss to make this statement. The boss may have not even returned from vacation but the employee is speculating that they must gain weight because of the nature of vacationing.

Hope this was somewhat clear. Understanding this nuance is not extremely crucial so don't break your head over it for too long :)

More About Future/Present Tense ~것 같다:

In Korean, just like in English, we can sometimes refer to current events in the future tense when making assumptions or expressing our opinions. Hopefully the fans of 태양의 후예 (Descendants of the Sun) will appreciate my reference. Those of you who haven't seen this amazing drama: don't worry! I will make sure to explain everything as clear as I can :)

Let's take a look at two almost identical sentences:

1. 의사들이 우르크에 봉사하는 것을 싫어하는 것 같아요- The doctors seem to not like volunteering in Urk

2. 의사들이 우르크에 봉사하는 것을 싫어할 것 같아요- I think the doctors will not like volunteering in Urk

The only difference between these sentences is the tense. The first one is talking about present tense and the second one- future tense. However, both of these sentences can be said while the doctors are out volunteering. The first sentence would most likely be said by one of the soldiers dispatched to Urk together with the doctors. He will say this sentence because he has clear evidence right in front of his eyes that the doctors are not enjoying themselves that much. The second sentence can then be said at the exact same time but by the chairman of the hospital, for example. Because he has no clear evidence, he can only speculate, after sending the doctors off to volunteer, whether they will like it or not.

Hopefully that was clear. Let me know if it wasn't :)

Have fun studying!

Much love,


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