In this lesson, we are taking a look at how to use the sentence ending "-(으)ㄹ 따름이다". This is used to express the meaning of "only" as in "we can only ..." or "what I did is just ...". This is a somewhat formal ending and can be found in many official (usually apologetic) statements as well as contexts where the speaker is expressing hope or regret, such as "I only did what he told me, but ..." or "we can only wait for the result now".
Present / Future Tense:
Verb stem + -(으)ㄹ 따름이다
Verb stem + -았/었/였 + -(으)ㄹ 따름이다
기다리다 (= to wait)
--> 기다리 + -(으)ㄹ 따름이다
--> 기다릴 따름입니다. (= I can only wait.)
말해 주다 (= to tell someone)
--> 말해 주 + -었 + -(으)ㄹ 따름이다
--> 말해 줬을 따름입니다. (= I did nothing but tell them about it.)
1. 부끄러울 따름입니다.
= I'm just ashamed of it/my mistake/what I did/what happened.
(I have nothing else to say; I can't say anything but this; I can't think of anything else but this.)
2. 제가 이 상을 받을 수 있게 도와 주신 모든 분들께 감사할 따름입니다.
[je-ga i sang-eul ba-deul su it-ge do-wa ju-sin mo-deun bun-deul-kke gam-sa-hal tta-reu-mim-ni-da.]
= I'm just grateful to everybody who helped me receive this award.
3. 정말 놀라울 따름입니다.
[jeong-mal nol-la-ul tta-reu-mim-ni-da.]
= All I can say is that I'm surprised.
= It's really shocking. That's all I can say.
4. 저는 해야 할 일을 했을 따름입니다.
[jeo-neun hae-ya hal i-reul hae-sseul tta-reu-mim-ni-da.]
= I just did what I had to do.
5. 이런 일이 생겨서, 저희는 정말 당황스러울 따름입니다.
[i-reon i-ri saeng-gyeo-seo jeo-hui-neun jeong-mal dang-hwang-seu-reo-ul tta-reu-mim-ni-da.]
= We are just really embarrassed that something like this happened.
Difference between 따름입니다 and 뿐입니다
뿐입니다 also has the same meaning, but 뿐입니다 is commonly used in spoken Korean and in a lighter, less formal setting. For example, “저는 해야 할 일을 했을 따름입니다” (Sample Sentence #4) can be changed to “저는 해야 할 일을 했을 뿐이에요” to be made less formal.