Korean grammar pattern – Ability and possibility 

 October 12, 2021

By  Smriti

Today we’ll see grammar patterns which are used to form expressions related to ability and possibility in Korean, with some example sentences.

V + (으)ㄹ 수있다 / 없다

의미 : This is a very simple grammar point, and is used all the time especially in Korea.

This Korean grammar point is used to express the possibility or ability to do something or not.

It can be translated as "cannot/can", "possible/not possible" in English. 

  1. ~ ㄹ 수있다 / 없다 is used when the stem ends with a vowel.
  2. ~을 수있다 / 없다 when the the stem ends with a consonant.
  • 보다 - 볼 수있다
  • 먹다 - 먹을 수있다
  • 가다 - 갈 수있다
  • 열다 - 열 수있다
  • 놀다 - 놀 수있다
  • 듣다 - 들을 수있다
  • 걷다 - 걸을 수있다


1. 영어를 잘 할 수 있어요.

I can speak English.

2. 운전 할 수 있어요?

Can you drive?

3. 저 사람은 한국어를 말할 수 없어요.

The person can't speak Korean.

V + (으)세요

의미 : It is used in the expression to politely requests an action from someone.

A sentence-final ending used to describe, ask a question, order, and request.

V + (으)세요 when used with 주다 (to give) it asks that someone act for you.

With verbs you use V + 아 / 어 / 해 주세요.


1. 이 시간에 어디 가세요?

Where are you going at this time?

2. 부모님께서는 언제 집에 들어오세요? 

When will your parents come home?

3. 거기 가서 버스를 타세요.

Go there and take the bus.

A/V + ㄹ/을 리가 없다

의미 : This grammar pattern can be used to express disbelief, skepticism or doubt. It has the same meaning as "it can't be or  that it is impossible''.

This pattern must be used as a declarative statement and not as an interrogative statement.

To use as an interrogative statement one must use the positive form -ㄹ/을 리가있다 ? which can be translated as "~ is it possible ?"

Even if you want to express in past or future tense, the sentence remains in the present tense.

The conjugation rules : 

  1. If there is no 받침 or if the stem ends with a ㄹ 받침 then A / V + ~ㄹ 리가 없다 is used.
  2. If there is a 받침 at the end of the stem then ~을 리가 없다
  • 할 리가 없다 가다
  • 갈 리가 없다 늦다
  • 늦을 리가 없다

예문 :

1. 경은 씨가 노래를 할 리가 없어요.

No way that Kyeong-eun is going to sing.

2. 그 친구들이 싫어할 리가 없어요.

There's no way they can hate it. 

3. 시험이 쉬울 리가 없어요.

The exam can't be easy. 

V/A + (으)ㄴ/는 /ㄹ 줄 알다/모르다

의미 : When you want to express whether or not you know about a method or a fact, you can use this grammatical structure.

The ending verb is usually 알다(to know) or 모르다(do not know) and it follows- ㄴ /은 /는 줄.

So the entire structure means "to know/ not know that"or "to think/ not expect that."

  1. For the Present Tense, use ㄴ/는 줄 알다 / 모르다.
  2. For the Past Tense, use- ㄴ/은 줄 알다 / 모르다.

When using 줄 알다 in the past tense, it is mostly translated as "I thought it had been."or "I thought it was."

And when you wanted to say "I knew it was"or "I knew it had been" more clearly, you can say ㄴ /은 줄 알고있다.

예문 :

1. 우르두 말을 좀 할 줄 알다.

I know how to speak Urdu.

2. 어떻게 하는 줄 몰랐어요.

I didn't know how to do it.

** The above information has been provided with the help of kGrammar app available on playstore for free to download. It’s a great app for grammar learning and I would recommend you to check it out. I am thankful to the creators for making it available for free use.

To understand TOPIK Test structure, application process, Levels and Passing scores etc. check these pages:

  1. TOPIK – The Complete Guide & 2. TOPIK Levels and Passing Marks. You can also Practice Online with TOPIK GUIDE Mock Tests.

If you are going to take the TOPIK Test for the first time, or if you want to give your score a boost so that you can pass a higher level, we would strongly advise you to get the Complete Guide to TOPIK – Self-Study Package. It is a digital study package that has everything you need to get a great score in the TOPIK test – all the past TOPIK papers with answer sheets, grammar and vocabulary study material, video tutorials explaining the test structure, strategies to solve them and much more. You can check out more details about this study package HERE.

Learning Korean can be tricky, especially when the goal of your learning is conversation. If you’ve ever attempted to speak Korean but were unable to, then hopefully you’ll find this post helpful.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions. Comment down below.

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