How To Say Something Bad Almost Happened In Korean

Conveying Near-Misses in Korean

The Korean grammar structure V + 을 뻔했다 vividly depicts situations where something undesirable almost transpired. The expression often suggests that the event was unintentional or unforeseen. To accentuate the close shave of the situation, 하마터면 can precede the statement.

It’s important to differentiate this structure from 거의, which translates to “almost” in English, but does not carry the same negative or unintended nuance.

Clarifying Examples

직행 비행기를 타면 론돈에서 서울까지 거의 11시간 걸려요.
If you fly direct, it takes almost (practically, mostly, as good as) 11 hours to fly from London to Seoul.

Near-Miss Situations with ‘을 뻔했다’

늦잠을 자서 오늘 아침에 버스를 놓칠 뻔했어요.
I almost missed the bus this morning because I overslept.
모자를 잃어버릴 뻔했어요.
I almost forgot my hat!
자전거로 언덕을 내려가고 있을 때 너무 빨라서 넘어질 뻔했어요.
When I was going down the hill on my bike, I was travelling so fast that I almost fell off.
작년에 교통 사고로 죽을 뻔했어요.
Last year I almost died in a traffic accident.
졸업식을 위해 양복을 입은 친구들을 못 알아볼 뻔했어요.
When I saw my students wearing suits I almost didn't recognise them.

Intensifying with ‘하마터면’

하마터면 한국어 배우는 걸 그만둘 뻔했어요.
I almost gave up learning Korean.
지난 번에 하마터면 남자친구와 말싸움을 했을 때 헤어질 뻔했어요.
The last time I had an argument with my boyfriend we almost split up.


The ‘을 뻔했다’ structure provides a nuanced way to share stories of near-misses or events that almost took place. By grasping this structure, you can paint a clearer picture in your conversations, showcasing the potential gravity or significance of what might have occurred.

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