In this lesson, let us take a look at how to say “I mean ...” in Korean. There are many ways of saying this in Korean as the expression “I mean” has various usages in English, too. Here, we would like to introduce four main ways to express this in Korean.
How to say “to mean” in Korean
Most English-Korean dictionaries will introduce the word “의미하다” as the first translation of the verb “to mean”, but in Korean “의미하다" sounds very formal, and therefore it isn’t used in everyday conversation. When you want to say “ABC means XYZ”, you can say “ABC + -은/는 + XYZ + -라는 뜻이에요”.
Ex) ABC + -은/는 + XYZ + -라는 뜻이에요.
The word “뜻" [tteut] is a noun defined as “meaning”, and when used with the verb -이다, it becomes 뜻이다 [tteu-si-da], expressing “it is the meaning”. When used with -라는 [-ra-neun], which works as a quoting marker, -라는 뜻이다 means “it is the meaning of …” or “it has the meaning of …”.
How to say “I mean/you mean” in Korean
1) 그러니까 [geu-reo-ni-kka]
When you want to reassure someone of what you are saying or make your point one more time, you can use 그러니까. In this context, 그러니까 can be translated as “so...” in English. After you say 그러니까, you summarize what you said before or make a more detailed explanation. Depending on the context, however, in Korean, this can be used to mean "you mean..." when you are checking with the other person on what he or she has said.
2) 제 말 뜻은 [je mal tteu-seun] or 제 말은 [je ma-reun]
When you want to make sure that the other person is understanding what you are saying, and you want to rephrase something you’ve already said, you can say “제 말 뜻은" (meaning “what I mean is...”) or “제 말은” (meaning “what I’m saying is...”).
3) -(이)라고요 [-(i)-ra-go-yo] or -(ㄴ/은/는)다고요 [-(n/eun/neun)-da-go-yo]
When you start a sentence with 그러니까 or 제 말 뜻은, you normally end the sentence with -라고요 or -다고요. -라고 and -다고 are both verb endings that are used to quote or cite what someone has said. Since you are delivering your point one more time with “I mean...”, you need to use the endings -라고 or -다고. The word -요 at the end is, as you know, used to make your sentence polite. -(이)라고요 is used after nouns and -다고요 is used after verb stems. If your sentence after “I mean...” is an imperative sentence, you use -(으)라고요.
4) (-(이)라는/-다는) 말이에요 [ma-ri-e-yo]
In addition to -라고요 and -다고요, another commonly used sentence ending for saying “I mean...” in Korean is (-(이)라는/-다는) 말이에요. Here, the word 말 means “words” or “phrases”, and -라는 or -다는 is used to quote or cite what someone has said. -라는 is used after nouns, and -다는 is used after verb stems.
1. 정지훈, 그러니까, “비" 좋아해요?
[jeong-ji-hun, geu-reo-ni-kka, “Bi” jo-a-hae-yo?]
= Do you like Jihoon Jeong, I mean, Rain?
2. 그러니까 이거 저 준다고요?
[geu-reo-ni-kka i-geo jeo jun-da-go-yo?]
= You mean you are giving this to me?
= I mean, you are giving this to me?
= So (I mean/you mean) you are giving this to me?
3. 그러니까, 벌써 다 했다고요.
[geu-reo-ni-kka, beol-sseo da haet-da-go-yo.]
= I mean, I already finished it.
4. 그러니까 제 말은, 이 일에는 이 사람이 최고라고요.
[geu-reo-ni-kka je ma-reun, i i-re-neun i sa-ra-mi choe-go-ra-go-yo.]
= I mean, for this work, this person is the best.
5. 그러니까 혼자 간다는 말이에요?
[geu-reo-ni-kka hon-ja gan-da-neun ma-ri-e-yo?]
= You mean you are going there alone?
= I mean, you are going there alone?
Using “I mean” to correct what you’ve said
When you want to say “I mean” in the middle of a sentence to correct yourself, you can say “아니" in Korean.
I went there last Saturday, I mean, Sunday.
= 지난 주 토요일에, 아니, 일요일에 갔어요.
Give me this one, I mean, this one.
= 이거, 아니, 이거 주세요.
How to say “I mean it” in Korean
When “I mean it” is used as a fixed expression, the most commonly used equivalent in Korean is “진짜예요.” or “진심이에요.”