Everyone has choices to make, so today we’ll look at how to express making a decision between different options. The two grammar points we’ll focus on are largely interchangeable, so we’ll look at them together and check out their individual differences as we go.
This grammar point has two meanings.
The first of those two refers to making a choice between some options, neither of which is really the best choice, but you end up going with the option in the following clause over the option in the preceding clause. That is, you can think of this form as translating to “Rather than X, Y.” This meaning of -(으)ㄹ 바에 is interchangeable with -느니’s first meaning. To emphasize the meaning a bit more, you can use a word like “차라리” or “오히려” in the following clause, or you can add “야” or “는” to the grammar form itself to make “-(으)ㄹ 바에야” or “-(으)ㄹ 바에는.”
The second meaning of this grammar form is used to indicate that since the situation in the preceding clause is already set or inevitable, you might as well do the thing in the following clause. In this case, it could be translated as, “Since X anyway, might as well Y.”
-(으)ㄹ 바에 can only be used with action verbs with the root in the present tense. Just add -을 바에 to verb roots ending in consonants (except ㄹ) or -ㄹ 바에 to verb roots ending with vowels or ㄹ!
- 친구한테 계속 화를 낼 바에 힘들어도 용서해 주는게 낫지 않을까? (Rather than being continuously mad at your friend, wouldn’t it be better to forgive them even if it’s hard?
- 믿을 만한 사람으로 알려지고 싶으면 거짓말을 할 바에야 책임을 지고 네 실수를 인정하는 게 나아요. (If you want to be known as a trustworthy person, rather than lying, taking responsibility and admitting your mistake would be better.)
- 막차를 놓치고 택시를 비싸게 탈 바에 파티에서 일찍 나가겠어요. (Rather than missing the last train and taking an expensive taxi, I guess I’ll leave the party early.)
- 어차피 지각할 바에 느긋하게 가자. (Since we’re going to be late anyway, let’s take our time.)
- 기왕 오랜만에 핸드폰을 바꿀 바에 최신 모델을 사는 게 좋을 것 같아요. (Since you’re changing your cellphone for the first time in a while, getting the latest model would be good.)
- 이왕 도시락을 쌀 바에 내 것도 준비해 줄래? (Since you’re packing your lunchbox anyway, would you prepare mine too?)
Like -(으)ㄹ 바에, -느니 also has two meanings.
As previously mentioned, the first meaning of -느니 is interchangeable with -(으)ㄹ 바에 in its first meaning. It is used when you want to express that in the given situation, the choice presented in the following clause is the best option to go with. Just as with -(으)ㄹ 바에, it might not be the absolute best choice, but it’s the lesser of two evils.
-느니’s second meaning is not the same as -(으)ㄹ 바에’s second meaning. Rather, it is used when you want to lay out opposing opinions or situations. You can use it when both of those things are about equal. One way to translate it might be “Whether X or Y…”
When using -느니’s first meaning, it is restricted to action verbs in the present tense, just as -(으)ㄹ 바에 is. However, when using -느니’s second meaning, descriptive verbs and the past tense can also be used. Also, when using -느니’s second meaning, the verb is reduplicated and both have -느니 attached to the end.
- 배고프다고 불평하느니 귀찮아도 마트에 가서 음식이나 사. (Instead of complaining that you’re hungry, go to the store and buy food or something even if it’s bothersome.)
- 뭘 원할 때마다 바로 나가서 저렴하고 쉽게 닳는 것을 사느니 좀 오래 걸리더라도 돈을 모아서 오랫동안 사용할 수 있는 품질이 좋은 걸 사는 게 어때요? (Rather than immediately going out and buying something cheap that will wear out easily every time you want something, how about saving up money and buying something of high quality, even if it takes a while?)
- 미룬 과제를 하기 위해 밤 새우고 다음 날에 힘들어하느니 차라리 재미없더라도 과제를 미리 하는 게 나아요. (Rather than staying up all night to finish an assignment and having a hard time the next day, it’s better to do the assignment in advance even if it’s no fun.)
- 1등을 했으니 10등을 했으니 아예 대회에서 나온 사실 자체가 중요한 거예요. (Whether you placed first or tenth, the fact that you did the competition at all is what’s important.)
- 교과서를 오늘 사느니 다음 주 사느니 학기 시작 전에 사면 돼요. (Whether you buy the textbook today or next week, it’s fine as long as you buy it before the semester starts.)
- 수업을 인터넷으로 듣느니 직접 듣느니 기말 시험이 똑같이 나와요. (Whether you take the class online or in person, the final exam is the same.)
- 봉사 활동이 재미있느니 재미없느니 남들을 도와주는 일이니만큼 보람이 있어요. (Whether volunteering is fun or not, it has value because it is work that helps others.)
That’s all for -(으)ㄹ 바에 and -느니! As always, here’s hoping this post was useful to you. Happy studying~