[Korean grammar] -(느)ㄴ다면 Expressing Hypothetical Situations


가: 복권 사셨네요. 복권에 당첨되면 뭐 하고 싶어요?
(I see) you bought a lottery ticket. What do you want to do if you win the lottery?
나: 복권에 당첨된다면 멋진 자동차를 사고 싶어요.
If I were to win the lottery, I’d (want to) buy a fancy car.

가: 두 분은 한국에서 만나셨다면서요?
I hear you two met in Korea?
나: 네, 제가 한국에 오지 않았다면 아키라 씨를 만나지 못했을 거예요.
Yes, if I hadn’t come to Korea, I would not have met Akira.

This expression is used to refer to hypothetical situations either contrary to what actually happened in the past or what is happening in the present, or to situations that have not yet occurred. The following clause usually includes an expression such as -겠어요, -(으)ㄹ 거예요 or -(으)ㄹ 텐데 to denote the hypothetical or suppositional situation being described.

• 날씨가 좋았다면 한라산에 갈 수 있었을 텐데.
If the weather had been good, (we) could have gone to Mt. Halla.

• 이번에도 졸업을 못한다면 부모님이 정말 실망하실 거예요.
If I don’t graduate this time, (my) parents will be really disappointed.

• 내가 부자라면 가난한 사람들을 도와줄 수 있을 텐데.
If only I were rich, I would be able to help the poor.

1. In addition to indicating hypothetical situations, this expression can also be used to indicate conditional statements.
• 10개 이상 사신다면 10%를 할인해 드리겠습니다.
If you (intend to) buy 10 or more, I’ll give you a 10% discount.

• 지금부터 열심히 공부한다면 대학교에 갈 수 있을 거예요.
If you (say you are going to) study hard from this point onward, then you should be able to get into a university,

2. The present tense form -(느)ㄴ다면 can be changed to -(으)면, and the past tense form -았/었다면 can be changed to -았/었으면 or -았/었더라면 with almost no change in meaning.
• 오후에 비가 그친다면 운동하러 가요.
= 오후에 비가 그치면 운동하러 가요.
• 어제 TV를 보지 않았다면 보고서를 끝냈을 거 예요.
= 어제 TV를 보지 않았으면 보고서를 끝냈을 거예요.
= 어제 TV를 보지 않았더라면 보고서률 끝냈을 거예요.
See Chapter: ‘-았/었더라면 Expressing Hypothetical Situations’ here.

While both -(으)면 and -(느)ㄴ다면 can refer to either a condition or a hypothetical situation, -(으)면 is used for things that have a higher possibility of occurring than -(느)ㄴ다면. Accordingly, if the event being referred to has no chance of actually happening in reality, then -(으)면 should not be used.

>> You can click on the title of each grammar below to learn about the other grammar which also expresses ‘Hypothetical Situations’:
01 -(느)ㄴ다면
02 -았/었더라면 
03 -(으)ㄹ 뻔하다

>>> Full of Intermediate grammar: Click here


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