[125] How to organize a successful language exchange

I have recently started writing a bit more on Medium.

My last post there might be interest you as a learner of Korean.

It is a list of 7 tips on how my wife and I got to organize a popular recurring language meetup in Seoul.

Hope you’ll like it!

Featured post

[001] Goals

(EDIT: I started a Reddit thread to get specific advice about how to tackle my goals. I got a lot of useful advice, so feel free to give it a skim. A big thank you to all the anonymous commenters there.)

As with any blog, one has to start with something. This post is just a quick description of what I have in mind, after waking up in the middle of the night last night. I will probably extend these thoughts once things become clearer with time.

I’ve been in Korea all in all, a little bit less than 2 years. This time has been interrupted with 6 months in Austin Texas.

Since I’ve arrived, I’ve spent some time learning the language, with more or less success and motivation over time. I’ve tried several methods, which I might describe or discuss in later posts, and I have come to a point where I think I know how to proceed from here to reach my one goal, namely…


Let’s call this my ONE DAY goal. So, how to get there?

Continue reading “[001] Goals”

Featured post

[126] Present tense -아/어져요 grammar

Sometimes, it helps to go back to some of the basics.

The following piece of grammar trivia I just encountered in the beginner level 2 of the Sogang University curriculum.

The present tense of the -아/어져요 grammar…

I already naturally use the past tense of this grammar construction indicating the nuance of becoming or change by adding it to an adjective.

소라 씨가 요즘 많이 예뻐졌어요. Sora became very pretty these days.

Meaning she was not that pretty before.

So that one is common and easy (to me).

If you need more details, check out here (at the end of the page) and here.

However, I never used it in the present tense before.

The Sogang workbook tells me:

When speaking of widely known facts or generally agreed-upon truths, the present tense of 아/어지다 is used.

Here two examples to illustrate this:

텔레비전에 많이 나오면 유명해져요. You become famous when you appear on TV often.

한국 사람하고 많이 얘기하면 한국어 발음이 좋아져요. You improve your Korean speech if you speak with Koreans a lot.

This reminds of the importance of following a structured curriculum to properly learn everything. Not the kind of textbook hopping I’ve been doing for years 😉

[124] confusing meanings of 여기 차리 있어요?

I always thought that when someone was asking me this question in a coffee shop, it meant Is this seat free?.

However, it’s quite the opposite… but not quite…

In short,

if you’re asking about a specific seat, it means “is this your seat?” but if you’re just asking about the room in general, it means “is there a seat?”

So, in my example situation above, the 있어요 actually refers to me having the seat. Because 있다 does not agree with the object particle, one always uses the subject and topic particle to form the sentence, where the object is represented by the subject (think of 있다 meaning to exist and not to have, from a grammatical perspective) and where the actual subject would then become the topic to avoid having two subject particles.

If the question is not about by someone pointing at the seat, but rather asking in general, 있다 refers to the existence of the seat: does the seat exist… is there a seat?

More clarification from the same Reddit thread where I initially asked the question:

여기 here / 자리 seat / “A” 있어요 ? do you have A ? is there A ? / hence, 여기 자리 있어요 ? is there any seat here ? /// so the confusion you’re having is based on how you interpret the “seat”, as 자리 can either mean seat (taken by sb else) or seat (available vacant seat). Generally, if you’re not referring to a specific chair or seat, it would mean “is there any vacant seat available in this place?” whereas if you’re pointing at a specific seat and asking the question to the person next to it, then it could mean “is this seat (that i’m pointing at) taken (by your company) ?”

[123] (으)면 되다 grammar

From Korean Ramblings:

V + (으)면 되다 is used to show the minimum that is required to achieve a result:

From this Tumblr, we learn that:

This grammar point is similar to -아/어야 하다 in that you are stating that something “should” be done or “ought” to be done, but by using -으면 되다 instead the implication is much softer. Using this grammar point implies that if the action is taken, things will be alright/will work out for the positive, so it’s used most often when giving/offering advice.

Let’s provide some examples based on endic.naver.com.

Let me try to make some myself:

  • 볶음밥을 요리할때 밥하고 참치를 쓰면 돼요. When you make fried rice, you just need rice and tuna.
  • 곧 도착할개. 샤워만 하면 돼요. I’ll be there soon. I just need to take a shower.

There are a few more useful examples on Korean Ramblings.

영국에서 미국까지 국제 전화를 걸면 먼저 001번 누르면 돼요.
When you call the USA from the UK, just press ‘001’ first.

인도네시아에 도착할 때 공항에서 비자를 면 돼요.
When you arrive in Indonesia you can just get a visa at the airport.

한국 운전시험에 합격하려면, 70점 이상을 받으면 돼요.
To pass the Korean driving test you just need to score 70 points or more.

출발하기 2시간 전에 표를 사러 역에 가면 돼요.
It’s enough to go to the train station two hours before departure to buy a ticket.

강남에 아파트 려면 은행을 털면 돼요.
If you want to buy an apartment in Gangnam you just need to rob a bank (!)

You can find additional examples on that Tumblr.

Check out our blog about life in Korea


Just some self-promotion about a blog my wife and I have started about our life as an international couple living in Korea.

Existing posts include:

We don’t have a regular publishing schedule for this blog, so better subscribe if you want to get updated with new posts.

[122] -는/은 커녕 grammar

As usual, always useful to recoup the information from different sources, here, here and here.


은/는 커녕 is used to say “There wasn’t X, let alone Y” or “Never mind Y, I didn’t even do X!” The noun or verb before the structure is attached to let alone or never mind, while  is used for emphasis in the second part.

Note that if X is a verb, you have to nounify with the 기 construct added to the verb stem.

For the example sentences, you have many in above links, but I’ll add a few from endic.naver.com as I’ve found myself to use this dictionary more and more to find out how words are used in context based on realistic native sentences.

그 녀석 불어는커녕 영어도 못한다: He knows no Englishto say nothing of French.

그는 죽기는 커녕 다치지도 않았다: He didnt die, he wasnt even wounded.

손님커녕 우리 쓸 공간도 충분치가 않다: There isn’t enough room for us, let alone any guests.

[121] An honest Korean 101 review

Today I am going to try to write an honest review about a service I’ve been using while at the same time possibly benefiting financially from this review. Indeed, all the links in this blog post are referral links, meaning that if you sign up to the service, I will get paid for it. It’s a tricky thing to do as I want to be as objective as possible to preserve integrity (if any I have) while at the same time selling the product as being amazing to get you to sign up and earn me money. So please keep this in mind and try to form your own opinion before subscribing to anything.

It has almost been two years since I first signed up for the Korean 101 podcasts as a Premium Member.

In short I must say I do not regret it.

In long, there are a few caveats with the most obvious one being the fact that if you want to have access to the real nice things, you need to pay for them.

Let’s dive into more detail…

Continue reading “[121] An honest Korean 101 review”

[120] ~거든(요) grammar

Not so long ago, I learned about this grammar pattern put at the end of a sentence to provide a reason. I was already familiar with the -니까 and -아/어서 patterns that are generally used in the middle of a sentence (and sometimes, at the end, too, but I think that’s more often in spoken language), but it took me a while to discover about 거든(요) being used primarily at the end of the sentence.

It thus seems to act mostly as a stand-alone sentence.

If my friend asks me why I buy so many apples, I can answer:

할인을 받고 싶거든요 = Because I want to get a discount.

Ever since, it feels like I’m hearing it all the time. Baader-Meinhof cognitive bias, is that you?

My friend just told me it is a pretty colloquial/conversational grammar pattern, so better not use it in formal settings.

There are several other lesser common usage cases for this pattern that you can check out here.

Other online resources with many example sentences for this pattern:



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