-는데 and -는 데—they look identical except for the space, but they mean very different things. What difference could that space possibly make? What do they mean? Let’s take a look at each.
This grammar form is really common and is used to introduce/explain a situation, and it can also be used for contrast. It isn’t always strictly either one or the other; it really depends on the context which of those feelings comes out more, or if both of those feelings are applicable. Does that sound a bit vague? Let’s clear it up with some examples.
When using this form with present tense descriptive verbs (adjectives) use -은데 when the verb stem ends with a consonant and -ㄴ데 when it ends with a vowel.
- 그 치킨이* 좋은데 이 것은 더 좋아요. (That fried chicken is good, but this one is better.) <– Notice how I translated 좋은데 as “but”—this is a pretty common way to translate -은데 into English. In fact, you could also write this sentence with -지만 (but) and get “그 치킨이 좋지만 이 것은 더 좋아요,” which would translate the same way. However, remember that I said the -(으)ㄴ/는데 form is for introducing a situation or showing contrast. In this case, the -은데 is used for contrast, as we are comparing the two different types of fried chicken.We don’t get so much of a feel of contrast from using -지만.
- 저 가방이 비싼데 사고 싶어요. (That bag is expensive, but I want to buy it.) <— In this case, the -ㄴ데 functions more as introducing/explaining a situation. That is, it is introducing the situation of the bag being expensive.
*VOCAB NOTE: In Korean, the loanword 치킨 refers specifically to fried chicken (which is plentiful and delicious <3).
Now let’s look at -는데. This is used with present tense action verbs and past tense action and descriptive verbs.
- 삼계탕을 좋아하는데 자주 안 먹어요. (I like samgyetang, but I don’t eat it often.) <–Introduction/explanation of situation usage. Also, this also sort of feels a little like contrast if you consider the speaker’s liking samgyetang and the fact that they don’t eat it often to be contrasting issues.
- 저는 숙제를 했는데 민수 씨는 숙제를 안 했어요. (I did homework, but Minsu did not do homework.) <–Contrast usage.
- 그 연예인은 예전에 예뻤는데 이제 예쁘지 않아요. (This celebrity was pretty in the past, but she isn’t pretty now.) <–Contrast usage between the past and the present. Can also be considered an introduction of the past situation in which the celebrity was pretty as a basis for the judgement that the speaker passes in the following clause. Like I said above, it isn’t always either-or!
Now that we understand -(으)ㄴ데 a bit better, let’s look at -는 데!
This form can only be used with present tense action verbs and the 데 here has a few meanings. If we look it up using the Naver Korean dictionary, the first definition is 장소 or 곳 (place). That’s not the definition we want here though; the ones we want are the second and third definitions, which refer to “일,” “것,” and “경우” (matter, thing, and situation). So, we know that 데 here refers to some sort of matter or situation, while the -는데 form above is introduction/explanation or contrast. The -는 in -는 데 is the ending you use to turn a present tense action verb or past tense action verb or descriptive verb into an adjective. As previously mentioned, this form can only be used with present tense action verbs. So, combine the -는 and 데, and together they can roughly be translated as “the matter of…”
If that was a little confusing, don’t worry! Let’s look at some examples.
- 학교에 가는 데 15분만 걸려요. (LIT: The matter of going to school takes only 15 minutes. More naturally- Going to school takes only 15 minutes.)
- 한국어를 배우는 데 가장 어려운 것은 뭐예요? (LIT: In the matter of learning Korean, what is the hardest thing? More naturally- What is the hardest thing about learning Korean?
If anything is unclear after reading this, feel free to message me or reply to the post! Happy studying~