Time-Based Contrasts In Korean Using 전만 해도

The expression 전만 해도, when used after mentioning a specific time, conveys a change in a situation from the past to the present, often indicating a contrast or an opposite condition. It’s a useful pattern for discussing how things have evolved or changed over time.

Grammar Rule: Time + 전만 해도

전만 해도 in context

Here are some sentences illustrating the use of 전만 해도:

2년 전만 해도 한국어를 전혀 몰랐는데 지금은 한국 친구가 잘 한다고 말했어요.
Two years ago I didn't know any Korean but now my Korean friends say I speak it well.
5년 전만 해도 이곳은 시골이었지만 이제는 여기에 건물이 많이 생겼어요.
Five years ago this place used to be countryside, but these days there are many buildings here.
방금 전만 해도 가방이 여기 있었어요...
My bag was here just now (but it's gone. Where is it?)
10년 전만 해도 사람들이 이 옷은 제일 유행하는 옷이라고 생각했어요.
10 years ago people thought these clothes were the most fashionable (but now they don't).
한 달 전만 해도 입학생들이 영어를 배우는 것에 관심이 많았지만 지금은 신경 안 써요.
A month ago the new students were very interested in learning English but now they don't care.


Understanding and using 전만 해도 enables Korean language learners to effectively communicate changes and contrasts over time.

It’s a simple yet powerful structure to reflect on how situations or perceptions have evolved.

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