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지 못하다 grammar meaning – conjugation

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지 못하다 grammar meaning – conjugation

지 못하다 grammar is used when the subject has an intention to do something, but the subject cannot do something, because of his/her lack of ability to do something or because of external circumstances. 지 못하다 attaches after a verb stem.

we’ve already learned ‘Verb-동사 못하다‘grammar. Which expresses that the subject cannot do something because of either his/her inability or the external circumstances. For example, Someone asks: ‘오토바이를 타요? Do you ride motorcycles?’

But you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle. You don’t have the ability to ride a motorcycle. Then you can answer like this- ‘아니요. 못 타요.’ No, I cannot.

Here, ‘못 타요’ is a combination of ‘못’ and the verb ‘타다 (to ride).’ The expression shows that I do not have the ability to ride a motorcycle.

Like ‘못 Verb’, it also expresses the subject cannot do something due to one’s lack of ability or external conditions. For example, I ask the same question.

오토바이를 타요? Do you ride motorbike?’

But you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle. ( inability to ride a motorcycle). Then you can answer like this – ‘아니요, 타지 못해요.’ No, I cannot.

‘타지 못해요’ is a conjugated by the combination of the verb ‘타다’ and ‘지 못하다’. The expression shows that I do not have the ability to ride a motorcycle. And ‘못 타요’ and ‘타지 못해요’ have the same meaning.

지 못하다 grammar example

Let’s look at some examples.

바빠서 아침먹지 못했어요. I was busy so I could not eat.

‘저는 바빠서 아침을 먹지 못했어요.’ I was busy so I could not have breakfast.

Here, ‘먹지 못했어요’ is formed from the combination of the verb ‘먹다 (to eat) and ‘지 못하다.’

It is breakfast time. But I was busy. I’m not in a situation to have breakfast. In this case, you can say ‘먹지 못했어요’ by using ‘지 못하다.’

The expression ‘Verb-동사’ expresses the subject cannot do something because of either one’s lack of ability or external circumstances.

‘저는 일본어를 하지 못해요.’ I cannot speak Japanese.

Here, ‘하지 못해요’ is formed from the combination of the verb ‘하다 (to do) and ‘지 못하다.’

I haven’t learned Japanese. I don’t have the ability to speak Japanese. In this case, you can say ‘하지 못해요’ (하다 + 지 못하다).

Whether the verb has the final consonant or not  ‘지 못하다’ is used in both cases.

지 못하다 pronunciation

Let’s look at the pronunciation of ‘못하다’ and its different conjugation forms.

‘못하다’ is pronounced as 모타다.

‘못해요’is pronounced as 모태요.

‘못했어요’ is pronounced as 모태써요

‘못할 거예요’ is pronounced as 모탈 꺼예요.

못하다 vs 지 않다

Let’s compare ‘Verb-지 못하다’ to ‘Adjective/verb- 지 않다’. Both expressions are used to negate the preceding verb.

But ‘verb-지 못하다’ is used when the subject has an intention to do something, but the subject cannot do something because of his/her inability to do or some kind of external situations.

For example, ‘아침을 먹지 못했어요. I could not have breakfast. 바빴어요.’ I was busy. I wanted to have breakfast. But I was busy.

On the other hand, ‘형용사/동사-지 않다’ is used when the subject has an ability to do something or is in a possible condition, the subject does not want to do that. For example, ‘아침을 먹지 않았어요.’ I didn’t have breakfast. 먹기 싫었어요.’ Because I did not want to eat.

I could have breakfast. It was possible to have, but ‘먹기 싫었어요’ I did not want to. It’s my intention not to have breakfast. In this case, ‘지 않다’ is used.

adjective/verb -지 않다 is used to simply negate a verb. For example, ‘눈이 오지 않아요.’ It’s not snowing.

비가 오다 (to rain)

‘지 않다’ is used to negate the verb and’지 못하다’ is used to negate a verb when the subject does not have an ability to do something or is in a possible condition,

For example, ‘는이 오지 못해요’ (lit. It cannot be snowing.) This is the wrong expression.

Like this sentence, ‘영어를 하지 못해요.’ (I cannot speak English).

‘지 못해요’ is used to negate a verb due to the lack of ability or circumstances.

지 못하다 Practice

Let’s practice by looking at some more examples.

‘저는 수영을 하지 못해요.’ I can’t swim.

‘하지 못해요’ is the combination of the verb ‘하다 (to do) and ‘지 못하다.’

The expression shows that I do not have the ability to swim.

‘여행 가고 싶지만 시험이 있어서 가지 못해요.’ I want to travel, but I cannot travel because I have an exam.

‘가지 못해요’ is the combination of the verb ‘가다 (to go) and ‘지 못하다.’

I want to travel. But I have an exam. So, I’m not in a situation to travel.

사스 바이러스 때문에 밖에 나가지 못해요.’ I cannot go out because of sars virus.

‘나가지 못해요’ is the combination of the verb ‘나가다 (to go out) and ‘지 못하다.’

I want to go out. But because of sars virus, I’m not in a situation to go out. So you can say ‘나가지 못해요’.

어제 아파서 삭제하지 못했어요. I haven’t done homework because I was sick yesterday.

저는 어제 숙제 하기 싫어서 하지 않고, 오늘 아침에 했어요. I didn’t do homework yesterday because I did not want to (I was bored), so I did it this morning.

하지 못했어요

It is a past tense form of 하지 못해요 and it is the combination of the verb ‘하다 (to do) and ‘지 못하다.’

I had an intention but I was in a situation to not to do homework. So ‘지 못하다’ is used.

지 않다

‘하지 않고’ is the combination of the verb ‘하다 (to do) and ‘지 않다.’

I was in a situation to do homework, but I did not want to do. So ‘지 않다 is used.

지 못하다 summary

Whether a verb stem has the final consonant or not, ‘지 못하다‘ is used for both cases. So, ‘먹다’ becomes ‘먹지 못하다’ and ‘하다’ becomes ‘하지 못하다’.

못 하다 is pronounced as 모타다.

When the final consonant ‘ㅅ’ from ‘못’ meets the following consonant ‘ㅎ’, ‘ㅅ’ is pronounced as ㄷ. ㄷ and ㅎ combined. As two sounds are combined, it is pronounced as ㅌ. So 못 하다 is pronounced as 모타다.

지 못하다 grammar

3 COMMENTS

  1. […] It’s really confusing for foreigners to know the difference between 안 and 못 because they seem to be very similar. 안 and 못 both are in the same position in the Korean sentence structure. 안 and 못 have a very similar meaning but they don’t have the same meaning.The main difference that you need to know about both안 and 못 is that they both mean that I will not do it but 못 means I will not do it because I can’t do it and 안 means I will not do it because I don’t want to do it. Let’s see some examples-나는 오토바이를 안타고 싶어. I don’t want to ride a motorbike.나는 오토바이를 못타.= I can’t ride a motorcycle.Both mean the person won’t ride a bike. 안타고 싶어 means the person has an intention to not to ride a bike and 못타 means the person has no ability to ride a bike (inability might be that person don’t know how to ride a bike or he might have some external reasons to not ride a bike). Learn more about 못 particle […]

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