[Korean grammar] -았/었더라면 Expressing Hypothetical Situations


가: 어쩌지요?표가 모두 매진되었네요.
What should we do? The tickets are all sold out.
나: 그러니까 제가 예매하자고 했잖아요. 미리 예매 했더라면 공연을 볼 수 있었을 거 예요.
That’s why I said we should buy them in advance. If we had purchased them in advance, we could have seen the show.

가: 아키라 씨, 생일 축하해요!
Akira, happy birthday!
나: 아키라 씨 생일이에요? 생일인 줄 알았더라면 선물을 준비했을 텐데요.
It’s Akira’s birthday? If I had known that, I would have prepared a gift.

This expression is used to hypothesize a past situation that is the opposite of what actually occurred. It can express the speaker’s feeling of regret or lament with respect to an event in the past as well as relief about not doing something. The expressions -았/었을 거예요, -았/었을 텐데 and -(으)ㄹ 뻔했다 often follow -았/었더라면. 

• 제가 키가 컸더라면 모델이 되었을 거예요.
I could have been a model if I had been taller.

• 아침에 일기예보를 들었더라면 산에 가지 않았을 텐데.
I wouldn’t have gone (mountain) hiking if t had heard the forecast in the morning.

• 빨리 병원에 가지 않았더라면 큰일 날 뻔했어요.
(It) would have been a big deal if (you) hadn’t gone to the hospital quickly.

This expression can be replaced with the expression -았/었다면 or -았/었으면.
• 오늘도 회사에 늦었더라면 부장님한테 크게 혼났을 거예요.
= 오늘도 회사에 늦었다면 부장님한테 크게 혼났을 거예요.
= 오늘도 희사에 늦었으면 부장님한테 크게 혼났을 거예요.
If I had been late for work again today, I would’ve been scolded very much by the director.

While the expression -(느)ㄴ다면 can be used to express both hypothetical and conditional situations, -았/었더라면 can only be used to express hypothetical situations. Moreover, while -(느)ㄴ다면 can be used in both present and past-tense hypothetical cases, -았/었더라면 can only be used in past-tense hypothetical situations. Finally, in contrast to these two expressions, -(으)면 can be used in all cases.

>> 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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