Episode from the podcastTalk To Me In Korean

TTMIK Level 6 Lesson 28

Released Thursday, 13th October 2011
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In this lesson, let us look at how to say “It depends on …” or just “It depends” in Korean.

The verb “to depend” is literally translated to 의지하다 [ui-ji-ha-da] or 의존하다 [ui-jon-ha-da], but this is only when you are talking about actually being “dependent” on someone about a certain matter.

So, for example, if you want to say something like, “Don’t depend on your parents”, you can use the verb 의지하다 or 의존하다 and say “부모님한테 의지하지 마세요.”

But when you want to say, “it depends on the situation”, “it depends on the person”, or “it depends on how soon you finish this”, you need to use the structure -에 따라 다르다 [-e tta-ra da-reu-da] or -마다 다르다 [-ma-da da-reu-da].

-에 따라 다르다 [-e tta-ra da-reu-da]
-에 따라 [-e tta-ra] means “according to”, “in compliance with”, or “in accordance with”. 다르다 [da-reu-da] means “to be different”. Literally, this structure means “it changes/becomes different in accordance with” something.

1. 때에 따라 달라요.
[ttae-e tta-ra dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on the time.
= It depends on when it is.

2. 상황에 따라 달라요.
[sang-hwang-e ttar-ra dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on the situation.

3. 사람에 따라 달라요.
[sa-ra-me tta-ra dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on the person.

You can also say -에 따라"서" 다르다 and it means the same.

때에 따라 달라요.
= 때에 따라서 달라요.

상황에 따라 달라요.
= 상황에 따라서 달라요.

-마다 다르다 [-ma-da da-reu-da]
-마다 [-ma-da] means “every”. So 아침마다 [a-chim-ma-da] is “every morning” and 밤마다 [bam-ma-da] is “every night”, and when you use -마다 with 다르다, it means “it is different for every …”.

1. 사람마다 달라요.
[sa-ram-ma-da dal-la-yo.]
= For every person, it’s different.
= It depends on the person.

2. 나라마다 달라요.
[na-ra-ma-da dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on the country.

3. 해마다 달라요.
[hae-ma-da dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on the year.
= It’s different every year.

Difference between -에 따라 and -마다
These two are usually interchangeable, but -마다 can only be used with nouns, whereas -에 따라 can also be used with a clause. In order for -에 따라 to be used with a clause, however, you need to conjugate the verb into the -는지 form.

Also, while -에 따라 has a stronger meaning of “it depends on the certain item/circumstance”, -에 마다 can also have the meaning that something constantly changes, even not really “in accordance with” the item or circumstance.

For example, 해마다 달라요 can mean “it depends on that year” or “it changes every year”.

Verb stem + -는지에 따라(서) 다르다

1. 언제 가는지에 따라 달라요.
[eon-je ga-neun-ji-e tta-ra dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on when you go there.

2. 어디서 사는지에 따라 달라요.
[eo-di-seo sa-neun-ji-e tta-ra dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on where you buy it.

3. 누구한테 이야기하는지에 따라서 달라요.
[nu-gu-han-te i-ya-gi-ha-neun-ji-e tta-ra-seo dal-la-yo.]
= It depends on whom you talk to.

-는지에 따라 = -느냐에 따라
Sometimes you will also hear people saying -느냐에 따라 instead of -는지에 따라. They are interchangeable, but -느냐에 따라 is slightly more commonly used in spoken Korean.

달라요 vs 달라져요
You will also often hear people saying “달라져요" instead of “달라요”. This is when they want to put stress on the nuance that it “becomes” different, but usually just saying “달라요” is clear enough.
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