This has been a much-requested grammar form! -다가 is a really useful grammar point that is used often in speech, so it would be really helpful to learn how to use it well.
I will cover four different “forms” of -다가, each of which has its own meaning(s). The four forms I’ll cover will be -다가, 아/어다가, -았/었다가 (-다가 attached to a verb conjugated to past tense), and -다가는. Also, while it’s not the same as the verb endings that use -다가, I’ll explain the particle -에다가 as well.
The -다가 grammar form is used to indicate interruption of an action. In English, we could translate this form roughly as “While doing X…”
-다가 is very simple to use! Just attach it to an action verb root in present tense! You can optionally remove the “가” at the end and just use it as -다 as well. Just make sure that the subject of the preceding and following clauses stays the same Let’s check it out:
Interruption of an action:
요리를 하다가 접시를 떨어트렸어요. (While cooking, I dropped a plate.)
영화를 보다가 잠들었어. (While watching a movie, I fell asleep.)
화랑 씨는 숙제를 하다가 친구들과 전화도 했어요. (While doing his homework, Hwarang talked with his friends on the phone.)
수하 씨는 오랜만에 못 본 친구랑 통화하다가 울었어요. (While on the phone with a friend she hadn’t been able to see in a long time, Suha cried.)
-아/어다가 is a grammar form indicating sequential actions. The action in the preceding clause is done first, and then the action in the following clause occurs in a different location. The two actions must be related to each other, so that the action in the following clause happens dependent upon the completion of the action in the preceding clause. You can think of it as meaning “First… and then…” in English, though of course you might have to change that a bit for a more natural translation depending on the circumstances.
To use this form, simply attach -아/어다가 to the root of an action verb in the present tense. Remember to change the root as needed depending on whether or not it’s irregular!
You can optionally remove the “가” at the end and just use it as -아/어다 as well.
제 가방 좀 가져다 주세요. (Please get my bag and give it to me.)
아름 씨는 김밥을 만들어다가 친구에게 줬어요. (Areum made kimbap and gave it to her friends.
언니는 선물을 사다가 어머니께 보냈어요. (My older sister bought a gift and sent it to mom.)
Using -다가 on an action verb conjugated to the past tense indicates completion of an action, after which another action action occurs. This is in contrast to -다가 with a present tense action verb, which indicates interruption of an action or simultaneous occurrence of two actions, as seen above. The verbs used in the preceding and following clauses are often contrasting or opposite, though this is not always the case.
Just conjugate the action verb that you want to use to past tense and add -다가! You can optionally remove the “가” at the end and just use this grammar as -았/었다. Also, the subject of both the preceding and following clauses must stay the same.
갔다 올게요! (I’ll go and come back! [More naturally, “I’ll be back!”])
편의점에 들렀다가 집에 갔어요. (I stopped by the convenience store and then went home.)
NOTE: This form can also be used to express that something unexpected happened after doing the action in the preceding clause.
집에 갔다가 문 앞에 웬 소포가 있었어요. (I went home and there was an unexpected package in front of the door.)
기차를 탔다가 6년만에 못 본 친구를 만났아요. (I got on the train and met a friend I hadn’t seen in six years.)
This grammar point is used to give warnings, indicating that if the action or condition of the preceding clause continues, then the negative result in the following clause will occur. It can be translated as “If… then…”. Just keep in mind that it must be used with negative consequences only!
Something important to note with this form is that, while it might seem similar to -(으)면, the two are not totally interchangeable! -다가는 refers to an action that is already known to be in progress, regardless of context, while an identical sentence that changes only -다가는 to -(으)면 refers to a condition in the preceding clause that may or may not be in progress (unless prior context makes it clear that the action is in progress, in which case the two sentences are identical).
Unlike the other -다가s that we have looked at so far, this one can be used with action and descriptive verbs both! Just attach -다가는 to the root of the verb in either present or past tense. Using a verb conjugated to the past tense changes the preceding clause from a situation that is currently in progress to speculating about a present or future event.
- Action verbs: -다가는
- 담배를 계속 피우다가는 폐암에 걸릴지도 몰라요. (If you keep smoking, you might get lung cancer [LIT-I don’t know whether or not you’ll get lung cancer].)
- 이렇게 공부를 미루다가는 기말 시험에 떨어질 수도 있어요. (If you put off studying like this you could even fail the final exam.)
- Descriptive verbs: -다가는
- 미세먼지가 이렇게 심하다가는 호흡기 질환 환자들이 많아질 거예요. (If the pollution stays severe like this, the number of respiratory illness patients will increase.)
- 날씨가 이렇게 덥다가는 특히 노인들이 열사병에 많이 걸릴 것 같아요. (If the weather stays hot like this, it seems that especially many elderly people could get heat stroke.)
PAST— I actually struggled over this section quite a bit! I had to ask some native speaker friends to help me work through it. In general, the consensus we reached is that the examples that I wrote here are correct, but it is far more common to just use -(으)면 for the same meaning.
- Action verbs: -았/었다가는
- 어제 처럼 경기했다가는 질 거예요. (If we play like we did yesterday, then we will lose.)
- 음식을 너무 많이 먹었다가는 배탈이 날 거예요. (If you eat too much food, you’ll get a stomachache.)
- Descriptive verbs: -았/었다가는
- 집안 습기가 계속 이렇게 높았다가는 곰팡이가 쉽게 생길 거예요. (If the humidity in your house is constantly high, mold will form easily.)
- 출산율이 계속 낮았다가는 인구가 감소할 거예요. (If the birthrate stays low, the population will decrease.)
The particle -에다가 has two main functions. One of those functions is to indicate the specific location of something, and the other is to add more information in addition to something else. You can drop the final “가” and just use this particle as -에다.
When used to indicate the specific location of something, -에다가 is attached to an adverb. When used to provide additional information, it attaches to nouns.
- 종이 밑에다가 사인해 주세요. (Please sign the bottom of the paper.)
- 가방을 책상 위에다가 놓았어요. (I put my bag on top of the table.)
- 어디에다 둘까요? (Where should I put it?)
- 김밥을 만들었어요. 게다가(그에다가) 음료수도 준비해 놨어요. (I made kimbap. In addition to that, I also prepared drinks.)
- 소윤 씨는 알바하는 데다가 봉사 활동도 해요. (In addition to working a part-time job, Soyun also does volunteer activities.) NOTE: 데다가 = 데 + 에다가. For more info on -는 데, click here!
- 이번 주 가스요금에다가 전기요금도 내야 돼요. (This week I must pay my electricity bill in addition to my gas bill.)
And that’s about it for -다가! There’s a lot of information in this post, so take your time reading through it and feel free to ask if you find anything confusing. Happy studying, everyone~