Do you remember the possibility conjugation ㄹ 수 있다? really interesting thing is that when you use ㄹ 수 있다 under certain situations, it loses the nuance for capability and has only the nuance for possibility in the Korean language. 😂 No matter what I say, if I say it formally, it sounds super fancy, wise and professional, doesn’t it? lol but it just means ㄹ 수 있다 becomes ‘may’ or ‘might’ from ‘can’. Formality is a real bitch when you learn something. It just makes the word fancy and confusing.





when ㄹ 수 있다 is used with 이다 be, 이다 adjective and 있다 word. Somehow it doesn’t describe capability anymore. It only means ‘guess’ or ‘assumption’.


Korean Language Course 41. Assumption 1


Let’s look at the chart. ‘-ㄹ 수 있다’ no longer describes the capability. It only describes the possibility as an assumption or a guessing.


Course 41. Assumption 2


Why does it happen? It’s because that’s the feature of 이다 words. Actually the Korean language and grammar work differently based on the word type. And it’s just one of many.


Korean Language Course 41. Assumption 3


If you add ‘도’ after 수, the nuance for guessing gets stronger.




ㄹ 수 있다

ㄹ 수 있다 becomes ‘assumption’ when it’s used with 이다. Then, It leads us to another question. How can we use 하다 words for this? it must be something else than ㄹ 수 있다 right? In this case, we have a simple solution, or we have to say a simple word.


Course 41. Assumption 4


Let’s add ‘도 (also)’ after 수. then the meaning of the phrase changed entirely. Now it loses the meaning of capability. It made a strong guessing nuance with 이다 and now it’s used to make a guessing nuance.


Korean Language Course 41. Assumption 5


See? you just need to simply add ‘도’, then it becomes ‘may’ or ‘might’.




Use Other Verbs Instead

But what if I want to describe what I can be or how I can be like ‘I can be a better man’. This is not an assumption. This means capability. but ㄹ 수 있다 with 이다 and 있다 always mean ‘assumption’. So, we need another way to deal with it, right?


Course 41. Assumption 6


The answer might be simple. You can use other similar verbs that share the context. ‘to become (되다)’ instead of ‘to be’,



‘to get (가지다)’, ‘to buy (사다)’ instead of ‘to have’.




있을 수 있다

Conjugation 있을 수 있다 is very similar to conjugation 일 수 있다. It shows only the possibility. It’s similar to ‘may be + location’. When 있다 verb is conjugated with ‘ㄹ 수 있다’. It loses the nuance of possession a lot.


This way is not commonly used. Koreans also use ‘maybe’ too. They use this conjugation when they really aren’t sure.


Course 41. Assumption 8


서랍에 있을 수 있어요
(It) might be in a drawer


차 있을 수 있어요
(He / She) may has a car
There is a bus/train (to go destination)
The car may be available




But You Can’t Use It Like This

In English, ‘can’ can be used to ask permission. But in Korean, can can’t (lol can can, can can’t. yeah this is fun for me)


저는 창문을 열 수 있어요? (Wrong)
Can I open the window?

But you can use it as an asking with 합니다 which is a super formal speech style.


제가 창문 좀 열 수 있을까요?
Can I open the window?
= It’s actually the same as ‘May I open the window?’

But it sounds very very formal so Koreans just don’t say it much even at a place where you have to be formal. Oh and, 좀 is important. 좀 means ‘a little bit’ But Koreans often use it when they ask something.



Jun Hamm

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