알다, 알아차리다, 알아채다, 깨닫다 – Korean Words vs. Words S2 #27

When you realize something, you found out something you didn't know before. Today, we'll learn the Korean words related with realize. They are 알다, 알아차리다, 깨닫다.

알다

Actually, 알다 is more for know than realize. However, it's really confusing when to use 알다 or 알아 차리다. So, I thought that it is a good idea to start with 알다.

By experience, thought, or education, you learned something and the knowledge or information is in your brain. Then, you can use the verb, 알다.

이 문제는 공식만 알면 쉽게 풀 수 있다.
You can solve this problem easily only if you know the formula.

여행을 하려면 그쪽 지리에 대해 잘 알아야 한다.
To travel, you should be familiar with the place.

알아차리다, 알아채다

알아차리다 or 알아채다 is used when you realized some secret around you.

You didn't know about it before but you knew it after some experience or thought. Then, it is usually called 알아차리다.

그녀는 사태의 심각성을 알아차리지 못했다.
She didn't realize the severity of the situation.

그들이 왜 그런 행동을 하는지 알아챈 그는 도망치기 시작했다.
After he realized why they did something like that, he started to run away.

깨닫다

깨닫다 and 알아 차리다 are similar. They are both for realize. However, 깨닫다 has a nuance that you got the life lesson which you didn't know before. Because of that, 깨닫다 is used a lot with the words like 잘못(wrong deeds), 법(method, law), etc.

어떤 잘못을 했던 것인지 몇 년 동안이나 깨닫지 못했다.
I didn't know what I did wrong for several years.

다양한 독서를 통해 살아가는 법을 깨달았다.
I've realized how to live by reading various books.

Like many other Words vs. Words guides, this is a general guideline. Choose one of them according the nuance you want to emphasize. If you want to emphasize that you have or don't have the knowledge, then use 알다. If you want to emphasize that there is some kind of secret or conspiracy, then use 알아차리다, 알아채다. When you realized the life lesson from an experience, course, etc., then use 깨닫다.