가: 부장님, 항상 일찍 출근하시더니 오늘은 웬일로 지각을 하셨어요?
Manager, you always arrive to work early, so why were you late today?
나: 나도 이제 나이가 들어서 그런지 체력이 예전 같지가 않네. 어제 모처럼 운동을 열심히 했더니 너무 피곤해서 아침에 일찍 일어날래야 일어날 수가 없었어.
Perhaps it’s my age catching up to me, but I don’t have the physical strength that I used to. Yesterday, I exercised for the first time in a long time, and this morning, I couldn’t get up no matter how hard I tried.
가: 아, 맞다. 옆 동네 사회인 축구 팀하고 친선 경기 한다고 하셨죠? 이기셨어요?
Oh, that’s right. You said you were going to play in a goodwill soccer match with some of your neighbors from the next town. Did you win?
나: 그쪽 팀원들이 워낙에 젊어서 말이야. 젖 먹던 힘까지 다 내서 뛰었는데도 이길래야 이길 수가 없더라고.
The members of the other team are all very young. We played with all of the strength we could muster, but we couldn’t win no matter what.
This expression is used to emphasize the fact, that the speaker is not able to do something he or she intends to do no matter how hard he or she tries due to some reason or set of circumstances. It is used more often in spoken rather than written language and attaches only to verbs.
• 그 사람은 일 처리가 꼼꼼하지 않아서 일을 맡길래야 맡길 수가 없는 사람이다.
That person isn’t very detailed in his work, so I can’t trust him with a job no matter how much I want to.
• 요즘 물가가 너무 올라서 돈을 아껴 쓸래야 아껴 쓸 수가 없다.
Recently, the prices of goods have risen so much that I can’t save my money even if I want to.
• 거짓말이 들통 났는데도 미안해하기는커녕 오히려 뻔뻔하게 변명을 하니까 화를 참을래야 참을 수가 없었어요.
Despite his lies being fully exposed, rather than express remorse, he shamelessly gave excuses, and therefore I couldn’t hold back my anger no matter how much I tried.