How To Say 'As If' Or 'As Though' In Korean (듯(이))

The Korean grammar pattern ‘듯(이)’ serves as a bridge between what’s observed and the comparisons we draw from those observations. It allows speakers to convey that something appears or behaves in a particular manner, akin to the English phrases ‘as if’ and ‘as though’. In this article, we’ll navigate its varied applications and gain insight through illustrative examples.

Grammar rule: 듯(이) = As if / As though / Like

Basic expressions with 듯(이)

듯(이) helps to create vivid descriptions, comparing one situation to another or describing an appearance or behavior:

선생님이 교실에 들어왔을 때 미친 듯이 학생들은 뛰어다니고 있었어요.
When the teacher came into the classroom, the students were running around like crazy.
그는 생각에 잠긴 듯 창문 밖을 바라봤어요.
He stared out of the window as if lost in thought.
그 남자는 죽은 듯이 마루에 누워 있었어요.
The man lay on the floor as though he were dead.
그는 아무것도 이해하지 못한다는 듯이 행동했어요.
He acted as though he didn't understand anything.
그는 한번도 저를 만나본 적이 없다는 듯이 저를 쳐다봤어요.
He looked at me as if he had never met me before.
아무 일도 없었던 듯이 우리는 계속 걸어갔어요.
We continued walking as if nothing had happened.

Expanding usage and metaphorical expressions

Going beyond the basic usage, 듯(이) can also be harnessed for metaphorical expressions or to communicate assumptions:

당장이라도 비가 올 듯해요.
It seems as though it will rain any minute now.
'괜찮아'라는 듯이 아내가 저를 바라보았어요.
My wife looked at me as if to say 'it's okay'.
제 부자 사우디 학생들은 돈을 물을 쓰듯 해요.
My rich Saudi students spend money like it's water.
그의 이름이 생각이 날 듯 말 듯 하네요.
His name is on the tip of my tongue.

Grasping the concept of ‘듯(이)’ is essential for painting pictures with your words in Korean.

Offering comparisons like ‘as if’ and ‘as though’ opens up avenues for more nuanced and relatable expressions. With these examples and a bit of practice, you can seamlessly incorporate this pattern into your daily conversations, making them more vivid and impactful.

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