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Exploring ‘but’ in Korean: 하지만, 그런데, 그렇지만, 그러나

learning korean Jun 19, 2023
Exploring ‘but’ in Korean: 하지만, 그런데, 그렇지만, 그러나

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team 

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하지만: BUT


  Similar to English, conjunctions in Korean play an essential role in connecting words, phrases, and clauses. Mastering these conjunctions is crucial to connect thoughts, to make comparisons, and achieving fluency to express thoughts and ideas accurately.


 In this post, we will explore some commonly used Korean conjunctions, their meanings, and sample sentences to understand better and effectively use them.


 As we have already covered 그리고, 그래서, and 그래도 previously, let us take a look at conjunctions that mean but, by the way, and however.


 *Note: Learn Korean Hangul for free here!


하지만: BUT

  하지만 introduces opposite ideas or conditions, contradicting the statement previously mentioned. As 하지만 is suitable to be used in both formal and informal contexts, it is the more commonly used Korean conjunction for ‘but’.


 Example sentences:

  1. 친구는 열심히 공부했어요. 하지만 시험에서 좋은 점수를 받지 못했어요.
    My friend studied hard. But she did not get good grades on the exam.

    *열심히: hard, diligently
    *공부하다: to study
    *시험: test, exam
    *점수: grade, mark, score
    *받다: to get, to receive
    *못하다: to be bad at

  2. 저는 커피를 안 마셔요. 하지만 저는 카페에 가는 것을 좋아해요.
    I do not drink coffee. But I like to go to cafes.

    *커피: coffee
    *카페: cafe


  3. 저는 영화 보는 것을 좋아해요. 하지만 저는 드라마를 보는 것을 더 좋아해요.
    I like watching movies. But I prefer watching dramas more.

    *영화: movie
    *드라마: drama
    *더: more


 When combining two sentences, -지만 is used. To link two clauses with -지만, add -지만 directly to the stems of verbs, adjectives, or 이다.


Conjugation examples:

보다 (to watch) → 보지만

좋아하다 (to like) → 좋아하지만

이다 (to be) → 이지만


Examples sentences:

  1. 저는 아프지만 일을 끝내야 해요.
    I am sick, but I have to finish my work.

    *아프다: to be sick
    *일: work
    *끝내다: to complete, to finish

  2. 날씨는 좋지만 저는 너무 피곤해서 집에 있고 싶어요.
    The weather is nice, but I am so tired that I want to stay home.

     *날씨: weather
    *너무: very
    *집: home

  3. 이 책은 재미있지만 너무 비싸요.
    This book is interesting, but it is too expensive.

    *책: book
    *비싸다: to be expensive



  Similar to 하지만, 그런데 is used to introduce an additional point or information that may relate to the previous context but adds a contrasting or new element to the conversation. Generally, 그런데 is less formal than 하지만.


 You may often hear 근데 daily conversations or K-dramas. 근데 is the contraction of 그런데, hence having the same meaning. However, as 근데 is informal, it is unsuitable for formal writing or speaking.


 When combining two sentences, -(으)ㄴ/는데 is used. Click here to read more about -(으)ㄴ/는데. (Link)


 Example sentences:

  1. 요즘 과제가 많아서 바쁘네요. 그런데 시험은 어떻게 준비하고 있어요?
    I am busy because I have a lot of assignments these days. By the way, how are you preparing for the exam?

    *요즘: these days
    *과제: assignment
    *어떻게: how
    *준비하다: to prepare

  2. 늦어서 미안해요. 그런데 우리 어디서 밥을 먹을 거예요?
    I am sorry I am late. By the way, where are we going to eat?

    *늦다: to be late
    *미안하다: to be sorry
    *우리: we
    *어디: where

  3. 음식은 맛있었어요. 그런데 계산은 얼마예요?
    The food was delicious. By the way, how much was the bill?

    *음식: food
    *맛있다: to be delicious
    *계산: bill
    *얼마: how much (money)

  4. 요즘에 바빠서 친구를 못 만나요. 그런데 다음 주는 시간이 있을 거예요.
    I don’t meet friends recently because I am busy. However, I'll have time next week.

    *요즘: these days
    *만나다: to meet
    *다음 주: next week
    *시간: time



  그렇지만 expresses a contradiction between two statements whereby the second statement goes against the first statement. 그렇지만 and 하지만 are interchangeable.


 Example sentences:

  1. 이 프로젝트는 많은 시간과 노력이 필요할 거예요. 그렇지만 우리는 할 수 있어요!
    This project will take a lot of time and effort. But we can do it!

    *프로젝트: project
    *많다: to be a lot
    *시간: time
    *노력: effort
    *필요하다: to be needed, to be necessary

  2. 한글은 쉬워요. 그렇지만 한국어 문법은 어렵습니다.
    Hangul is easy. But Korean grammar is difficult.

    *쉽다: to be easy
    *문법: grammar
    *어렵다: to be difficult

  3. 비가 오네요. 그렇지만 춥지 않아요.
    It is raining. But it is not cold.

    *비가 오다: to rain
    *춥다: to be cold




 그러나, similar to 하지만, is used to introduce a contrasting thought or condition that contradicts the previous statement, adding a sense of opposition or discrepancy to the conversation, highlighting a different perspective or outcome. It is common in formal or literary forms, such as written language, speeches, academic texts, and song lyrics.


 Example sentences:

  1. 그러나 시간이 지나도, 아물지 않는 일들이 있지 (First phrase in My Sea, by IU)
    But over time, some things do not heal.

    *지나다: to pass, to go by
    *아물다: to heal

  2. 저는 실수를 했습니다. 그러나 실수를 통해 배우고 더 잘할 것입니다.
    I made a mistake. But I will learn from my mistakes and do better.

    *실수: mistake
    *통하다: to (move) through
    *통해: through
    *배우다: to learn
    *잘하다: to be good at

  3. 오늘은 날씨가 맑습니다. 그러나 내일은 비가 올 것으로 예상됩니다.
    Today, the weather is clear. But it is expected to rain tomorrow.

    *오늘: today
    *맑다: to be clear
    *내일: tomorrow
    *예상되다: to be expected


 The conjunctions above are just some of the many others in Korean. Incorporating these conjunctions in your Korean conversations and writing will enhance your language skills and help you communicate more effectively.

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team