Sunday, September 20, 2015

Probable Future (-ㄹ 거예요)

In English, future tense is marked by “will” or the “be going to” pattern, as in “I will go to Chicago”, or “I am going to eat pizza tonight”. In Korean, the most common way to express a future event is to use the probable future ending -(으)ㄹ 거예요. One must remember however that this ending does not express future but probable future. In Korean, an event that will surely happen in the future is expressed by the present tense with a time adverb. Consider the following three sentences:


Notice that the first and the second sentences have the present tense. However, the second sentence differs from the first sentence in that it expresses the future event with the time adverb 내일(tomorrow). The third sentence uses the probable future ending -(으)ㄹ 거예요. Notice that the possibility that the future event will occur in the future is less certain in the third sentence, when compared to the second sentence. In other words, -(으)ㄹ 거예요 indicates “a probable future event” rather than “a definite future event".
The -(으)ㄹ 거예요 ending consists of three elements: -(으)ㄹ + 거 + 예요. The prospective modifier “-(으)ㄹ” indicates “future” or “uncertainty”. The bound noun 거 is a colloquial form of 것 “thing” or “fact”. The ending 예요 is the polite speech level ending of the copula 이다.
-(으)ㄹ 거예요 is a three-form ending: -을 거예요 is used for the verb and/or adjective stem that ends in a consonant, and -ㄹ 거예요 is used for the verb and/or adjective stem that ends in a vowel. For the ㄹ-irregular verbs -거예요 is used.


The English “will” can sometimes indicate a speaker’s intention in addition to the future event, as in “I will study hard". In a similar manner, -(으)ㄹ 거예요 can also indicate the intention of the speaker in addition to the future probability depending on the context. This is particularly true when the subject of the sentence is the first person. Consider the following examples:


When the subject is not the first or second person, the -(으)ㄹ 거예요 ending can indicate the speaker’s conjecture. Consider the following examples:


When -(으)ㄹ 거예요 is used with the copula 이다, the ending indicates a probable present. For instance, consider the following sentences:


* Click to read related posts.
Grammar for Intermediates
Endings of Sentences
The Deferential Speech Level
The Polite Speech Level
Past tense and double past tense (과거시제)
Irregular verbs and adjectives (불규칙동사와 형용사)

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