모르겠어요 vs 몰라요 in Korean

Hi guys! It’s your Korean teacher Jun. Native Koreans sometimes say ‘몰라요’ for ‘I don’t know’ and sometimes say ‘모르겠어요’. Both seems to have a same meaning but what’s the differences between 몰라요 and 모르겠어요? Even it’s so confusing! Don’t worry because you have me here! We are going to learn 모르다 vs 모르겠다 in Korean today and how to use them!

Warm Up Your Brain

Tell me your opinion for the differences between 몰라요 and 모르겠어요 first!

몰라요 Meaning in Korean

몰라요

[molayo]
I don’t know

몰라요 is ‘to not know’ in Korean actually. 몰라요 simply describes that the subject doesn’t know. Koreans say 아 몰라! to express they are annoyed often. You can totally use it when someone keeps bothering you with asking a same question over and over. Well, of course, it can be soft in your tone.

A: 차차씨는 이거 알아요?
Does Chacha know this?
B: 몰라요
She doesn’t know

모르겠어요 Meaning in Korean

모르겠어요

[moreugesseoyo]
I don’t know

모르겠어요 is ‘I don’t know’ in Korean. 모르겠어요 is a more polite, mild, soft way to expression ‘your thought’ that you don’t know with 겠 conjugation. Also, it can describe the speaker is not sure or uncertain of something.

A: 차차씨는 이거 알아요?
Does Chacha know this?
B: 모르겠어요
I don’t know (if she knows) /
I’m not sure (if she knows)

Molayo vs Moreugesseoyo in Korean Featured

모르겠어요 vs 몰라요 in Korean

Technically, there is no difference for meaning between 모르겠어요 and 몰라요. However, it does sound different to native Koreans and does have different grammar rules.

First, 몰라요 simply describes that the subject doesn’t know. 몰라요 can be used with any subject such as ‘he’, ‘it’, ‘person’s name’. So, it can have different nuances with your voice tone.

Oh the other hand, 모르겠어요 is a more polite, mild, soft way to expression ‘your thought’. So, it has only one nuance from the first. It can’t be used with other pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’. It can be used only with the 1st person subject, especially 저 (I). It makes you sound much nicer.

You can see ‘I don’t know’ in English can be 2 different shapes in Korean language with conjugations to express the tone in text. It makes Koreans naturally understand people’s attitude, their tone, their opinion.

Both can be correct for ‘I don’t know’ in any situation but sometimes the tone won’t be same.

How To Use

A: 아 몰라. 안해요
Oh damn it. I’m not gonna do it
B: 진정해요
Calm down

A: 무슨 일인지 알아요?
You know what happened?
B: 저도 모르겠어요
I don’t know either

A: 저 정말 똑똑한거 같아요
I think I’m so smart
B: 모르겠어요
I don’t know
A tutorial how to piss off people with a nice word. Get a free slap on your cheek!

Vocabulary Note

이거 [igeo] : this
알다 [alda] : to know
진정하다 [jinjeonghada] : to become calm
무슨 [museun] : what / which
일 [il] : event / task / job
저도 [jeodo] : me too / I – too
정말 [jengmal] : really
똑똑하다 [ddokddokhada] : to be smart

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