Episode from the podcastTalk To Me In Korean

TTMIK Level 7 Lesson 7 - PDF

Released Thursday, 17th November 2011
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In today's lesson, we look at the structure -아/어/여 봤자 [-a/eo/yeo bwat-ja]. This is used to express the meaning "even if" or "there is no use", and is more commonly used in spoken Korean than in written Korean.

Other similar expressions are -아/어/여도 and -아/어/여 봐도, and these expressions tend to be a little more formal and less intense in nuance than -아/어/여 봤자.

When used after verb stems, -아/어/여 봤자 gives the entire sentence the meaning that "even if" one tries to do something, they will NOT get the desired result.

말하다 [ma-ra-da] = to talk, to speak
→ 말해 봤자 [ma-rae bwat-ja] = even if you talk (to them) (there is no use)

찾다 [chat-da] = to look for, to find
→ 찾아 봤자 [cha-ja bwat-ja] = even if you look for something / even if you find it (there is no use)

How to say “it is no use” or “it won’t work”
After you say -아/어/여 봤자, it’s already expected that you are going to say something along the lines of “it won’t work”, “it’s impossible” or “you can’t do it”, but in order to make it more clear, you can use the following expressions:

1. 소용 없어요. [so-yong eop-seo-yo.] = It’s of no use. It will not help.
2. 안 돼요. [an dwae-yo.] = It won’t work. It won’t do. You can’t do it.
3. 시간 낭비예요. [si-gan nang-bi-ye-yo.] = It’s a waste of time.

Or you can simply add negative phrases using 안 or 못.

말해 봤자 소용 없어요. [ma-rae bwat-ja so-yong eop-seo-yo.] = Even if you talk (to them), it’ll be of no use.
가 봤자 시간 낭비예요. [ga bwat-ja si-gan nang-bi-ye-yo.] = Even if you go, it will be a waste of your time.

But quite often, you can just drop the expressions above after -아/어/여 봤자 and just add -예요 (= to be) to make the sentence end with -아/어/여 봤자예요. This is because with just -아/어/여 봤자 alone, the meaning is clear, and you just add -예요 to make it a complete sentence.

해 봤자예요. [hae bwat-ja-ye-yo.] = There is no use in trying doing it.
가 봤자예요. [ga bwat-ja-ye-yo.] = There is no use in going there.

Sample Sentences
1. 저한테 말해 봤자 소용 없어요.
[jeo-han-te ma-rae wat-ja so-yong eop-seo-yo.]
= There is no use in talking to me.

2. 여기에 있어 봤자 시간 낭비예요.
[yeo-gi-e i-sseo bwat-ja si-gan nang-bi-ye-yo.]
= Even if you stay here, it’s a waste of time.

3. 지금 출발해 봤자 시간 안에 못 가요.
[ji-geum chul-ba-rae bwat-ja si-gan a-ne mot ga-yo.]
= Even if you leave now, you can’t get there in time.

4. 울어 봤자 소용 없어요.
[u-reo bwat-ja so-yong eop-seo-yo.]
= Even if you cry, it won’t help.

5. 모르는 척 해 봤자 이미 다 알고 있어요.
[mo-reu-neun cheok bwat-ja i-mi da al-go i-sseo-yo.]
= Even if you pretend you don’t know, I already know all about it.

-아/어/여 봤자 can be replaced with -아/어/여 봐야 when it is followed by a phrase that is NOT -예요. (You can’t say -아/어/여 봐야예요.)
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