못하다

KoreanEdit

EtymologyEdit

First attested in the Yongbi eocheonga (龍飛御天歌 / 용비어천가), 1447, as Middle Korean 몯〯ᄒᆞ다〮 (Yale: mwǒt-hòtá). Univerbation of (mot, cannot; poorly) +‎ 하다 (hada, to do).

PronunciationEdit

  • (SK Standard/Seoul) IPA(key): [ˈmo̞(ː)tʰa̠da̠]
    • (file)
  • Phonetic hangul: [(ː)]
    • Though still prescriptive in Standard Korean, most speakers in both Koreas no longer distinguish vowel length.
Romanizations
Revised Romanization?mothada
Revised Romanization (translit.)?moshada
McCune–Reischauer?mothada
Yale Romanization?mōshata

VerbEdit

못하다 (mothada) (infinitive 못해 or 못하여, sequential 못하니)

  1. (in the form 못하다 (-ji mothada)) cannot (do); to be unable, or impossible (to do)
    가지 못해요.Jib-e gaji mothaeyo.I cannot go home.
  2. (transitive, in the form 못하다 (-reul mothada)) not be good at
    Antonym: 잘하다 (jalhada, to be good at)
    노래 못해요.Na-neun norae-reul mothaeyo.I'm not good at singing.

Usage notesEdit

The second sense is very commonly confused with 하다 (mot hada). The contrast is in fact solely orthographic, as there is no prosodic difference between the two and the adverb (mot) can have the sense of "poorly" with all verbs.

오늘 공부 못 해요.
Oneur-eun gongbu-reul mot haeyo.
I cannot study today.
공부 못해요.
Gongbu-reul mothaeyo.
I'm not good at studying.

ConjugationEdit