Learn Korean: 도 돼 VS 면 안돼


One of the most commonly used verbs in Korean language is 돼다 (to become). It is often used to express our dream as in I want to be a doctor or I want to be a lawyer. Not realizing how difficult they are to achieve (lol). Anyway, in Korean, we say 나는 의사가 되고 싶어 or 저는 변호사가 되고 싶어요. Like 아니다, it always comes along with the subject particles  or  depending on the final sound. By the way, the verb ending – 싶다 is used to express wants.

There are two other sentence patterns 돼다 is used in. The first one is –//여도 돼요. This one literally means “even if you do it, it’s alright”. It is used to express that someone allows someone to do something. In English, we use the modals can or may. Do not confuse it with “can” for abilities.

 빌려도 .
You can/may borrow the book.

화장실 가도 .
You can/may go to the restroom.

손으로 먹어도 .
You can/may use your hand (when eating).

It is also possible to negate the main verb and it carries the meaning “it doesn’t matter if” or “you don’t need to” as in…

 가도 .
It doesn’t matter if you don’t go.

몰라도 .
(모르다 is a negative verb itself)
You don’t need to know.

 해도 
You don’t need to do it.

The second pattern is –()  돼요. This time, the verb 돼요 is being negated and not the main verb. It literally means “if you don’t do it, it can’t be”. It is used to express that someone is not allowed to do something. In English, we use cannot but this has nothing to do with someone’s inabilities. Here are some examples.

혼자 가면  .
You can’t go on your own.

 많이 쓰면  .
You can’t use all your money.

 나라에서 택시 타면  위험하니까
You cannot ride a taxi in this country. It’s dangerous.