Change of Action


In this episode, we’ll talk about the change of action.

For example, we’re going to learn how to say:

He went out of his house before finishing his breakfast.
He went to school and came back home.

They are 2 separate actions and one is done after another and there is not much logical relationship between them.

In this case, Koreans use -다가. The problem with this is that it’s hard to translate this word like -고, -며, -자마자. It’s just a change of action. So, it can be after, but, before, and.

You should understand the context and guess what’s going on.

그는 아침을 먹다가 갑자기 집 밖으로 나왔다.
He went out of his home before finishing his breakfast.

수영이는 마트에 갔다가 집으로 돌아왔다.
수영 went to supermarket and came back home.

Here are some tips to use -다가 correctly.

Present tense vs. Past tense.

First, you can use -다가 with past tense, but it has different meaning.

수영이는 마트에 가다가 집으로 돌아왔다.
수영 returned home on her way to the supermarket.

수영이는 마트에 갔다가 집으로 돌아왔다.
수영 came back home after visiting the supermarket.

When you use -다가 with past tense, it means you finished the first action and did the second. When you use -다가 with the present tense, you did the second action without finishing the first.

Action or Subject should be the same

Second, action or subject should be the same. -다가 is usually used to describe the change of action. So, it’s really unnatural to use -다가 with different subjects. You should change -다가 to -ㄹ 때.

에드워드는 TV를 보다가 챈들러가 잠이 들었다. (x)
에드워드가 TV를 볼 때 챈들러는 잠이 들었다. (o)
While Edward was watching TV, Chandler fell in sleep.

에드워드는 TV를 보다가 잠이 들었다. (o)
Edward fell in sleep while watching TV.

However, in some cases, you can use different subjects. In this case, you should use the same action.

애들만 있다가, 어른들만 있다가. 왜 애들과 어른들이 같이 있는 것을 볼 수가 없는 거지?
At some points, only kids are here. At other points, only adults are here. Why can’t I see kids and adults being together here?

이 가게는 얼마 전까지 할머니께서 운영하시다가, 지금은 그 할머니 아들이 운영하고 있다.
An old lady ran this supermarket not long ago, but these days, her son is running it.

No restriction with verb types

Finally, there are no verb-type restriction with -다가 like in other endings.

You can use it with descriptive verbs or -이다 verb.

교실이 소란스럽다가 내가 들어가니 조용해졌다.
The classroom was noisy, but when I entered it became quiet.

그는 씨름 선수였다가 연예인이 되었다.
He once was a 씨름 player, but he’s now a TV actor.

You can use it with imperative or requesting sentences.

쭉 가시다가 오른쪽으로 꺾으세요.
Go straight and turn right.

좀 쉬다가 다시 시작하자.
Let’s start it again after taking some rest.

You can use it with negative sentences, too.

한국어 공부를 안 하다가 다시 하려니 힘들다.
It’s hard because I’m trying to learn Korean after stopping doing it.