[Korean grammar] -(으)ㄴ/는 척하다 Expressing Habits and Attitudes

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가: 아까 넘어졌을 때 아프지 않았어요?
Didn’t it hurt when you fell earlier?
나: 정말 아팠어요. 하지만 사람들이 보고 있어서 아프지 않은 척했어요.
It really hurt. But with everyone watching, I acted like it didn’t hurt.

가: 얘기하다가 왜 갑자기 자는 척해요?
Why are you acting like you’re asleep in the middle of having a conversation.
나: 쉿, 저기 앞에 할아버지가 걸어오시잖아요. 오늘은 좀 피곤해서 자리를 양보 못 하겠거든요.
Shh! See that old man over there walking this way? I’m tired and today don’t feel like giving my seat up to him.

This expression is used to indicate the subject’s acting in a way that goes contrary to reality or to describe such a state of affair. The description of what is contrary to reality appears in the clause preceding -(으)ㄴ/는 척하다.


• 제 친구는 항상 다른 사람들 앞에서 아는 척하기를 좋아해요.
My friend enjoys acting like (s)he knows everything whenever (s)he’s in front of others.
• 수진 씨는 부자가 아닌데도 친구들 앞에서 항상 부자인 척하면서 돈을 많이 써요.
Even though she’s not rich. Sujin always acts rich in front of her friends by spending a lot of money.

1. When this expression is used with the verb 알다, the verb should only be used in the present tense, not the past tense.
• 나는 잘 알지도 못하면서 안 척하는 사람이 제일 싫어요. (X)
->나는 잘 알지도 못하면서 아는 척하는 사람이 제일 싫어요. (〇)

2. When used in past tense situations, the form -(으)ㄴ 척했다 is used when referring to the subject’s acting as if he/she had done something but in reality did not, while the form -는 척했다 is used when referring to the subject’s acting as if he/she was in the process of doing something but in reality was not.
• 음식이 부족한 것 같아서 저녁을 먹은 척했어요.
The subject did not eat anything but acted as if he/she did.

• 다이어트를 하고 있어서 음식을 먹는 척했어요.
The subject acted as if he/she were eating despite not really eating anything.

3. This expression can be replaced with  -(으)ㄴ/는 채하다 in all cases.
• 이 대리님은 사장님 앞에서만 열심히 일하는 척한니다.
= 이 대리님은 사장님 앞에서만 열심히 일하는 채합니다.

>> You can click on the title of each grammar below to learn about the other grammars which also express ‘Habits and Attitudes’:
01 -곤 하다
02 -기는요
03 -(으)ㄴ/는 척하다

>> Full of Intermediate grammars: Click here

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