시간, 시각, 세월, 시절 – Korean Words vs Words #9

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

Time is important. We cannot take back our time. To call this precious time, there are 4 words in Korean: 시간, 시각, 시절, 세월.

시간

시간 is the most basic word for time. It is most widely used. If you don't know what to use, then use 시간. In most cases, it is correct.

시간 낭비를 줄이려면 어떻게 해야 하지?
How do I have to do to reduce the waste of my time?

시간이 그렇게 오래 걸릴지 몰랐어.
I didn't know that they would take that much time.

서울부터 뉴욕까지 가는데 몇 시간이나 걸렸어?
How long did it take from Seoul to New York?

시각

시각 is used to pinpoint the exact moment in time.

그 시각 방콕에서는 미선과 영수가 미션을 수행하고 있었다.
At that time in Bangkok, 미선 and 영수 were doing a mission.

현재 시각 오후 9시. 과제 제출까지 3시간만 남겨 두고 있는 상황이다.
It's 9 p.m. now. We have only 3 more hours until the deadline of the homework.

그 시각에 그는 집에 있었습니다. 알리바이가 완전히 성립합니다.
He was at home at that time. His alibi is completely proved.

When I was young, I learned that 시간 is used to call the term or period of time and 시각 is for the exact moment. However, I found out in the dictionary that 시간 can be used for exact moment, too, so you can use 시간 in our examples of 시각.

세월

세월 is used to emphasize the flow of time. Because of that, you can frequently find the verb, 흐르다, flow in Korean, near 세월.

그 긴 세월 미국에 살아왔지만 그렇게 사소한 것을 못해봤네요.
I have lived in U.S. for that long time, but I didn't do such a trivial thing.

세월이 흐르면 너도 알게 될 거야.
When the time passed, you will know that.

그렇게 긴 세월이 흘렀는데 넌 하나도 안 변했네?
That long time has passed, but you are not changed at all.

In most cases, you can use 시간 interchangeably with 세월. The time always flows if you emphasize it or not.

시절

시절 is used to call certain period of time or experience in your life. Unlike 시각, 세월, it cannot be interchangeable with 시간. 시간 is used for relatively shorter period of time than 시절. 시절 is used to call really long period of time.

어린 시절부터 10년 넘게 짝사랑 해 온 여자애가 있어요.
There is a woman I have loved one-sidedly for more than 10 years since I was a kid.

어떻게 해서든 한 개라도 더 팔아보려고 지나가는 사람들에게 사정하던 시절도 있었지.
There was a time when I requested passers-by to just sell one more product.

힘든 시절을 지나왔기 때문에 지금의 우리 회사가 있는 거야.
As we have passed the hard time, our company is here now.

This word is usually used for the past, sometimes it is used to call the future like this:

우리에게 그런 시절이 오기는 할까?
Will the time like that really come to us?