The more familiar I become with Korean, the more I’ve started paying attention to how spoken Korean varies from one person to another. In the beginning I didn’t hear any difference at all, Korean to me was just Korean. There was even a time when I didn’t think that the Busan dialect was different from the Seoul dialect, simply because I didn’t understand either well enough to tell them apart.

Just like people have individual habits when speaking English, Korean people are no different. One particular pattern that I’ve recently stumbled across is how some Koreans are very liberal with the use of 아/어 가지고. In the beginning I was a bit puzzled by this way of speaking. Not because I didn’t understand, but because I never ever said this myself. I always opt for the textbook version 아/어서. Maybe this is why I was once told that it sounded like reading from a textbook whenever I spoke Korean? In any case I’ve really started paying attention to this. It seems that many Koreans use this word the same way we use “because” in English. It appears to very often be interchangable with 아/어서, but only when this is used for providing a reason for something.

Here are a few examples that I’ve taken from a Korean learning site from Indiana University.


소연: 시장은 자주 봐? (Do you go shopping often?)

성희: 우리 냉장고가 작아 가지고, 일요일에 두 번은 와야 돼 (Because our fridge is small I have to go shopping twice per week)


유진: 성희씨, 피곤하세요? (Sung-hee, are you tired?)

성희: 네, 어제 잠을 못 자 가지고 그래요 (Yes, it’s because I didn’t sleep last night)

Note that 아/어 가지고 can’t be used instead of 아/어서 in examples like:

어서 미안합니다

머리가 아파서 먼저 집에 갈게요

어서 학교에 가요

집에 갈 때 가게에 들러서 가세요

I’ve tried to discipline myself to use this pattern a bit more since I really feel that it sounds so much more natural.

What about you Korean learners out there? Do you use this pattern? Did you ever notice others using it? Please share!


  1. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever come across the “아/어 가지고” way of saying “because”. Who knows, maybe I have but I might have misinterpreted it. As a beginner, I’m still tackling “아/어 서”, “~기 때문에” and “~(으)니까” (and I STILL have problems when it comes to which one to use/which one seems more natural in a given situation). I bet I’ll start noticing “아/어 가지고” now that you’ve brought some light to it. 감사합니다 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It seems that Koreans mainly use it when speaking, not when writing. It also took a long time for me to notice. Again, it varies from person to person. Some use it a lot. Others hardly at all. BTW I know exactly what you’re struggling with at the moment. But don’t worry. Eventually it’ll all make sense 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s