Episode from the podcastTalk To Me In Korean

TTMIK Level 5 Lesson 3 PDF

Released Monday, 4th April 2011
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TTMIK Level 5 Lesson 3 - “수고"

Welcome to the 3rd lesson in Level 5 at TalkToMeInKorean! After studying the lengthy previous lesson on the honorific suffix -시- (Level 5 Lesson 2), it is time to take a little break from grammar rules and have a light lesson. In this lesson, we are going to look at an expression that Koreans say very often that is somewhat difficult to be translated into English.

The keyword is 수고 [su-go].

Literally, the word 수고 itself is a noun that means “trouble”, “effort” or “hard work”. But 수고 is rarely used on its own and is usually used inside some fixed expressions. These expressions using 수고 are used in everyday Korean conversations so often that we decided that they need a separate TalkToMeInKorean lesson on them.

Fixed expressions using 수고
1. 수고하세요. [su-go-ha-se-yo.]

This expression literally means “continue working hard”, “keep up the effort”, “keep doing the work you are doing” or “continue taking the trouble to do it” but it is not taken as such meanings.

When you want to comment on the fact that someone is makinf a lot of effort to do something, and you want to show either your appreciation or your support for that person by saying something as you leave the place or see someone leave, you can say 수고하세요. Sometimes 수고하세요 almost means “Good-bye” or “See you”.

** To someone younger than you, you can say 수고해요 [su-go-hae-yo] or even 수고해 if you are close friends with that person. 수고하세요 is much more polite than 수고해요.

Possible situations
- You received a parcel or a letter from a mailman. You want to say “thanks” but add something after that meaning “Thank you for the effort. Keep it up!”.
- You visit or pass by someone who is working at the moment. As you walk away, you want to say “See you again and I know you are working hard. Continue doing what you do.”

Inappropriate situations
- When you are talking to someone much older than you or someone you need to show respect toward, it is inappropriate to say 수고하세요. If you are much younger than the other person, he or she might think that you are rude and arrogant.

2. 수고하셨습니다.

This expression literally means “you made a lot of effort” or “you went through a lot of trouble doing this”.

You can use this expression to someone who just finished doing some work. If you are the one who made that person work, 수고하셨습니다 could mean “Thank you for the great job you did”. If you are just commenting on the fact that this person worked hard and has just finished something, it means “Good work” or “Congratulations on finishing it”.

** To someone younger than you, you can say 수고했어요 [su-go-hae-sseo-yo] or even 수고했어 if you are close friends with that person. But if you are not the oldest member of the group, it is still better to say 수고하셨습니다.

Possible situations
- You worked with other people as a group on a task or a project. The work is now finished. You want to casually celebrate the fact that the work is over and lightly thank the others for working so hard.
- Other people did some work and you became aware of it. You want to say “I know you put a lot of effort into it. It’s finished now.” as a gesture of acknowledgement.

3. 수고 많으셨습니다. / 수고 많았어요.

This expression literally means “your effort has been a lot”.

You can use this expression in situations similar to those where you would say 수고하셨습니다, but 수고 많으셨습니다 is more specifically said in order to appreciate the effort. After finishing a task as a group, you would say 수고하셨습니다 all together, but individually, you can go up to someone and say 수고 많으셨습니다.
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