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I was wanting to say that I'd heard of (but not actually seen) a TV series.

A friend suggested '들어는 봤어요'. Is this a good general way to say 'I've heard of it'? (I can't find 'heard of' in daum or naver dictionaries). Is '어는 보다' an ending form that can be used with other verbs?

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"I've heard of it." can be translated in two Korean expressions: "들어 봤어요" and "들어는 봤어요" The two expressions have different nuances.

  1. 들어는 봤어요. It has a nuance that the speaker is not interested in what is talked about and that's why the speaker didn't take specific actions.
    Example 1: A: Have you read the book "The Girl on the Train?" B: Yeah.. I heard of the book, but didn't read it because I was disappointed by other books written by the same author. (응.. 들어는 봤는데 읽지는 않았어. 그 작가가 쓴 다른 책들 읽었는데 실망했거든)
    Example 2: A: Do you know the country Bhutan? B: What? .. never heard of it. (뭐? 들어본 적 없는데) C: I've heard of it, but I have no idea about the country. (들어는 봤는데, 어떤 나라인지는 전혀 아는 바가 없어)
  2. On the other hand, the expression 들어 봤어요 connotes a positive or neutral attitude toward what is talked about.
    Example 1: A: Have you read the book "The Girl on the Train?" B: Yeah, I heard of it. All of my friends said it's a page-turner. (그래 들어 봤어. 내 친구들 모두 책장이 술술 넘어가는 책이라고 하더라)
    Example 2: A: Do you know the country Bhutan? B: I've heard of it. You know my friend Sun-hee? She traveled Bhutan last year and said it's a must country to go if you're a Buddhist. (응, 들어 봤어. 내 친구 순희 알지? 그애가 작년에 부탄으로 여행갔는데, 불교신자라면 꼭 가봐야하는 나라라고 그러더군)
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In the situation you mentioned, I think 들어는 봤어요 is a good answer. An alternative could be: "얘기는 들어 봤어요." (I've heard others talking about it.)

In general, 들어는 봤어요 is not exactly the same as "I've heard of it," because -는 here implies that "I've heard of it, but I did not _____."

(And yes, -어는 봤어요 can be used with any other verbs given the right situation.)

For example:

A: 춘향전 이야기 알아요? = Do you know the story of Chunhyang (a famous Korean folktale)?

B: 들어는 봤어요.

A: ???

Here, B's answer implies that he heard about it, but he's not comfortable saying "yes." Maybe he forgot the story; maybe he heard a highly abridged version, so he doesn't think he really knows the story. Or something else.

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