조금, 좀 – Korean Words vs Words #22

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

We will learn the differences between 조금 and 좀. Both of them basically mean a little or small amount of something, but they have different usage. I will tell you the difference.

조금 Only

조금 is a noun and an adverb. You cannot use 좀 as a noun. Because of that, when 조금 is used as a noun, you should only use 조금. Usually, nouns are used with markers like 은, 는, 이, 가, 을, 를, etc.

남아 있는 돈이 조금밖에 없다. 다시 직장을 구해야 할 것 같다.
I only have little money. I should get a job again.

허리를 다친 그는 조금을 제대로 앉아있지 못한다.
As he hurt his back, he cannot sit down for a little while.

너무 소란스러워서 네가 무엇이라고 말했는지 조금도 듣지 못했다.
As it was too loud, I couldn't hear anything you said.

Interchangeable

When 조금 is used as an adverb, 조금 and 좀 are interchangeable. Usually, it is used independently, there is usually no 조사 behind 조금. The most frequently used 조사 behind 조금 is 만(only).

좀 천천히 갑시다. 걸음이 너무 빠르시네요.
Please slow down. You walk so fast.

좀 늦을 수도 있는 거지. 너무하네.
You can be late a little. That's too much.

좀만 기다려.
Wait a sec.

I made all of those examples with 좀, but you can use 조금 in all examples above.

좀 Only

When you ask something or suggest something a little bit more politely, you can add 좀 in the sentence. It gives some politeness. It works something like "some" in English. Actually, they have similar sound. If you say "give me water," it sounds a bit hard. However, if you say "please give me some water," it sounds softer. 좀 does please and some do in English.

물 좀 주세요.
Please give me some water.

그만 좀 할 수 없겠니?
Can you stop it a little?

몸은 좀 어때?
Are you OK?

If we put them all together, it can be something like this.

좀만 기다리라고 했는데 벌써 3시간이야. 그러지 말고 조금만 좀 줘 봐.
You told me to wait for a sec but 3 hours have passed. Please give me a little.