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못 Negative - Korean Negative Statements #4

We learned about 안 negative in last 2 episodes. In this episode, we'll learn how to use 못 negative.

As we learned in our introduction, 못 negative is used for the lack of ability. Simply speaking, it's "cannot" in Korean.

이젠 더 못 먹어.
I cannot eat any more.

눈이 와서 차가 못 들어 가.
Cars cannot enter because of the snow.

못 cannot be used with 이다 or descriptive verbs

Because of that, 못 negative isn't used with 이다 verb or descriptive verbs. So, it is wrong to say:

저 꽃은 못 예쁘다. (x)
오늘 날씨는 덥지 못해요. (x)

You should use 안 instead like:

저 꽃은 안 예쁘다.
That flower isn't pretty.

오늘 날씨는 덥지 않아요.
It's not hot today.

However, in some cases, they can.

However, you can use 못 with some descriptive verbs when the subject doesn't meet your expectation or standard.

그 아이는 똑똑하지 못하다.
That kid isn't that smart.

In this case, that kid doesn't meet your expectation. You wanted some better brain.

You can find this kind of sentences with descriptive verbs like 넉넉하다(enough), 우수하다(good), 만족하다(satisfied), 풍부하다(enough), 신선하다(fresh), 깨끗하다(clean), etc.

깨끗하지 못한 방에서 자면 병 걸려.
If you sleep in a dirty room, you'll get some disease.

과일이 신선하지 못한데, 괜찮아요?
The fruits aren't that fresh. Is that OK?

못 long negative

Like 안 negative, 못 negative also has long negative form. The form is -지 못하다.

그 영화는 끝까지 못 봤다.
그 영화는 끝까지 보지 못했다.
I couldn't watch that movie until the end.

Every rule is the same with 안 negative. 았/었/겠 tense suffixes are added to 못하다 part.

시간이 부족해서 그 일을 마치지 못했다.
Because I didn't have time, I couldn't finish the work.

내일은 철수가 학교에 가지 못하겠네.
철수 cannot go to school tomorrow.

-ㄹ 리(가) 없다

In the beginning, I've told you that 못 negative is "cannot" in Korean. However, there is one big difference between Korean and English.

In English, cannot or can't is sometimes used when you're confident about your opinion, or you cannot believe yourself like:

This cannot be true.
It cannot be blue.

In these cases, you should not use 못 negative. In these cases, you should use "-ㄹ 리(가) 없다".

이게 사실일 리 없어.
This cannot be true.

그게 파랑색일 리가 없어.
It cannot be blue.

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