According to my understanding, 선물을 보낼 친구 contains the concepts that

  • A present will be sent in the future
  • This future action is associated with a friend

Am I correct in thinking it's not possible to tell just from that fragment whether it means "the friend who will send the present" or "the friend to whom the present will be sent"?

  • I think "the friend who will receive the gift" can avoid the ambiguity.
    – busukxuan
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 8:28

1 Answer 1


You are correct in thinking it's not possible to tell the difference. For example:

  1. 이번 설날에 선물을 보낼 친구가 하나도 없다. I have no friend to whom I will send a gift in this Lunar New Year.

  2. 선물을 보낼 친구가 전화해서 주소를 물어봤다. A friend who would send me a gift called me to ask for my address.

No. 2 is clear because there will be little or no chance that 'a friend to whom I will send a gift' would call me to ask my address. The phrase will not be confusing if it is supported by clear context.

If you are worried about the chances the second sentence might sound a little off or awkward, you could consider using the following sentences:

선물을 보내려는 (보내려고 하는) 친구가 전화해서 주소를 물어봤다.

선물을 보낸다는 (보낸다고 하는) 친구가 전화해서 주소를 물어봤다.

It proves again how complicated the language is.

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