The more I read Korean content the more I start noticing bits and pieces that I have not necessarily encountered in any grammar or textbook. I’m not talking about vocabulary, although I constantly stumble upon new words and phrases. I’m talking about ways to link sentences in Korean. Beginner learners will know how to link sentences with -고 or -아/어서 to create connecting clauses. But reading a great deal of news content in Korean everyday I’ve noticed that formally written Korean uses several other ways. The simplest and most puzzling to me thus far has been a sentences linking structure, which is probably best explained by a few simple examples:
- 친구를 만나 얘기해요 – Meet a friend and chat
- 설탕 한 스푼 뿌려 먹어요 – Sprinkle a spoonful of sugar over something and eat it
- 셀카 찍어 결제하세요 – Take a selfie to pay (News headline about Chinese payment option using facial recognition)
What do all of the three sentences have in common? 2 verbs with the first one being conjugated in the present tense short form (without 요). When I first started noticing these sentence patterns I was quite confused. This pattern did not fit with any of the rules I had learned for linking sentences. So what’s with this weird mid-sentence verb?
I’ve found one source that seems to explain the concept reasonably well: HowToStudyKorean
However, for my own learning purpose and your understanding, I’d try to explain it myself in the simplest way possible:
Think of all the compound Korean verbs you know such as 물어보다 (to ask) 걸어가다 (to walk) and 가져오다 (to bring). They all have the same format as in the three sentences above with the one exception that they are written in one word.
This structure is essentially the same. Although not a compound verb, you may argue that there is a compound action in the sense that (a) 친구를 만나 is immediately followed by (b) 얘기해요. Since the meet part and the chat part are so closely connected they can be argued to form one combined action. It’s not like you just meet your friend and then sit there for a while before you start chatting. The chatting happens instantly as a result of the meeting.
It works in the same way with second sentence. a) 설탕 한 스푼 뿌려 happens a mere nano seconds before b) 먹어요. There is no way that you would sprinkle sugar on your cereal if you were not going to eat it immediately.
In the third sentence, a new technology makes it possible to pay electronically by facial recognition. You therefore have to take a selfie to pay for your item. As with the previous two, the paying is an immediate result of having taken the selfie.
Did any of you ever wonder about this concept? Maybe you have an even better reference for understanding it in full? Feel free to share!