[Korean grammar] -(으)ㄹ 뻔하다 Expressing Hypothetical Situations

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가: 오늘 길이 너무 미끄럽지 않아요?
Aren’t the roads really slippery today?
나: 네, 맞아요. 저도 길이 너무 미끄러워서 학교에 오다가 넘어질 뻔했어요.
Yes, you’re right. They’re so slippery I almost fell on the way to school.

가: 하마터면 기차를 놓칠 뻔했어요.
We almost missed the train,
나: 다음부터는 더 일찍 출발해야겠어요.
Then we should leave earlier next time.

This expression is used to indicate that some event or action almost happened but did not. In most cases, it is used to express the speaker’s relief that the event or action did not happen. Because it refers to a past event, the form -(으)ㄹ 뻔했다 is always used. It is often used together with the adverb 하마터면 and it only attaches to verbs.



• 영화가 너무 슬퍼서 하마터면 여자 친구 앞에서 울 뻔했어요.
The movie was so sad I almost cried in front of my girlfriend.
• 골목에서 갑자기 차가 나오는 바람에 자동차에 부딪칠 뻔했어요.
I almost hit another car because it appeared suddenly from an alleyway.
• 친구와 통화하다가 음식을 다 태울 뻔했어요.
I was talking with my friend on the phone and almost burned all the food.
• 기차표를 미리 사지 않았으면 고향에 못 갈 뻔했어요.
If I hadn’t bought my train ticket in advance, I wouldn’t have been able to go to my hometown.
• 마크 씨가 전화를 안 해 줬더라면 약속을 잊어버릴 뻔했어요.
If Mark hadn’t called me, I would have forgotten my appointment.

This expression is often used following constructions that indicate hypothetical past situations such as -았/었으면 and -았/었더라면.

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

>> Full of Intermediate grammars: Click here

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