[Korean grammar] -던 Expressing Recollection

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가: 학교에 오래간만에 왔네요! 어디 가서 뭘 좀 먹을까요?
It’s certainly been a while since you came to school! Shall we go somewhere to get a bite to eat?
나: 학교에 다닐 때 우리가 자주  식당에 가 볼까요?
How about going to the restaurant we used to frequent when we were in school?

가: 이 영어책은 아주 오래된 책 같아요.
This English book seems really old.
나: 맞아요. 제가 고등학생 때 공부하 책이에요.
You’re right. This is a book I used to study when I was a high school student.

This expression is used when recollecting a behavior or habitual act that was repeated regularly over a certain period of time. However, it must refer to something that happened repeatedly in the past but has not continued until the present. It is used in front of nouns.




• 옆집에 살 사람은 지난 주말에 이사했어요.
The person who used to live next door moved last weekend.
• 이 음악은 제가 고등학교 때 자주 듣 거 예요.
This is a song that I used to listen to a lot in high school.
• 아버지께서 다니시던 대학교에 저도 다니고 있습니다.
I attend the same university that my father used to attend.

1. This expression is also used to indicate something that was often done in the past but is not anymore. In such cases, it is used together with expressions of repetition such as 여러 번, 자주, 가끔, and 항상.
• 우리가 자주  카페에 다시 가 보고 싶어요.
I want to go to that cafe that we used to frequent.
Here, the expression refers to the cafe that the speakers used to go to often but do not visit anymore.

2. This expression is also used to indicate the recollection of something that was started in the past but has not ended yet. In such cases, it is used together with a word indicating a specific time or day in the past, such as 지난달, 지난주, 어제, 아까 and 저번에.
• 아까 제가 마시 커피를 버렸어요?
Did you throw away the coffee I was drinking earlier?
Here, the expression refers to the fact that the speaker had not finished drinking the coffee.

3. This expression can also be used to indicate that something is not new but rather something that has been used from a certain time in the past until the present.
• 이것은 제 조카가 입 옷인데 제 아이에게 줬어요,
These clothes are what my nephew used to wear, and (now) I’ve given them to my son.
• 이 자동차는 아버지가 타시 거 예요.
This car is what my father used to drive.

4. This expression is not used for things that have only occurred once and do not repeat. 
• 이곳은 제가 결혼하 곳이에요. (X)
->이곳은 계가 결혼한 곳이에요. (〇)

5. This expression is also used to refer to a behavior or act that has often been repeated from a certain point in the past.
• 오늘도 우리가 자주  카페에서 만납시다.
Let’s meet at the cafe where we’ve often met.
Here, the expression means that the speakers have been going to the cafe often from some time in the past.

The differences between -던 and -(으)ㄴ which expresses the past tense, are summarized as follows.

>> See Chapter ‘-았/었던 : Click here

>> You can click on the title of each grammar below to learn about the other grammars which also express ‘Recollection’:
01 -던
02 -더라고요?
03 -던데요

>> Full of Intermediate grammars: Click here

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