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TTMIK Level 5 Lesson 28

Released Thursday, 30th June 2011
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Level 5 Lesson 28 / -(으)ㄹ 수 밖에 없다 / to have no other choice but to …

In this lesson, we are looking at the structure -(으)ㄹ 수 밖에 없다 [-(eu)l su ba-kke eop-da]. This is a combination of the two grammar points that were already introduced in our previous lessons. In Level 2 Lesson 17, we introduced how to use -(으)ㄹ 수 없다 to say that you can’t do something, and in Level 3 Lesson 18, we looked at how 밖에 is used in negative sentences to express the meaning of “only”.

-(으)ㄹ 수 없다 [-(eu)l su eop-da] = can’t
ex) 할 수 없어요. [hal su eop-seo-yo.] = You can’t do it.
ex) 볼 수 없어요. [bol su eop-seo-yo.] = You can’t see it.

밖에 + negative sentence = only
ex) 이거 밖에 없어요. [i-geo ba-kke eop-seo-yo.] = I only have this. (lit. I don’t have anything other than this.)
ex) 3명 밖에 안 왔어요. [se myeong ba-kke an wa-sseo-yo.] = Only three people came.

When you put those two grammar points together, 밖에 [ba-kke] goes after 수 [su] because 밖에 is used with nouns and 수 [su] is a noun that means “way”, “idea”, “method” or “solution”.

→ -(으)ㄹ 수 없다 + 밖에 = -(으)ㄹ 수 밖에 없다

-(으) ㄹ 수 밖에 없다 literally means “other than THIS, there is nothing else you can do” or “outside of these options, there is none”. When naturally translated to English, it means “can only” or “to have no other choice but to” do something.

1. 사다 → 살 수 밖에 없다
= to have no other choice but to buy

2. 포기하다 → 포기할 수 밖에 없다
= to have no other choice but to give up

3. 좋아하다 → 좋아할 수 밖에 없다
= can only like, can’t not like

-(으) ㄹ 수 밖에 없다 can also mean “it is more than natural” or “it is obviously expected” to do something or to be in a certain state.

1. 어렵다 → 어려울 수 밖에 없다

= to be obviously expected to be difficult

2. 비싸다 → 비쌀 수 밖에 없다
= to be obviously going to be expensive

3. 시끄럽다 → 시끄러울 수 밖에 없다
= to be bound to be noisy

Sample Sentences
1. 어제 술을 많이 마셔서, 오늘 피곤할 수 밖에 없어요.
[eo-je su-reul ma-ni ma-syeo-seo, o-neul pi-gon-hal su ba-kke eop-seo-yo.]
= He drank a lot yesterday, so he’s bound to be tired today.
= He drank a lot yesterday, so there is no way that he can not be tired.

2. 미안하지만 이렇게 할 수 밖에 없어요.
[mi-an-ha-ji-man i-reo-ke hal su ba-kke eop-seo-yo.]
= I am sorry but there is no other choice for me but to do it this way.

3. 그럴 수 밖에 없어요.
[geu-reol su ba-kke eop-seo-yo.]
= It’s bound to be that way.
= It’s expected to be that way.
= That can’t be helped.

4. 또 이야기할 수 밖에 없어요.
[tto i-ya-gi-hal su ba-kke eop-seo-yo.]
= I have no other choice but to talk to them (about this) again.

5. 걱정이 될 수 밖에 없어요.
[geok-jeong-i doel su ba-kke eop-seo-yo.]
= Of course I am worried.
= I’m obviously going to be worried.

** You can replace -(으)ㄹ 수 밖에 없어요 with 안 -(으)ㄹ 수가 없어요 in most cases.
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