Naively translated, "어디야?" "역이야" would be something like "Where is it?" "It's the station".

But it would normally be understood as "Where are you?" "I'm at the station".

Somewhat similarly, I've read that "집이 서울이 아니거든요" can be naturally translated as "my house is not in Seoul", even though there's no verb in there meaning "being in/at a location".

Is it just that 이다 can be understood to mean to "being in a location" if it's obvious from the context? Are there any similar 'alternative' meanings of 이다?

  • I wonder if 집이 서울이 아니거든요 is simply Seoul is not my home. To me that sounds perfectly normal, without needing the notion of being in. – busukxuan Jun 25 '16 at 16:14

According to my dictionary 이다 doesn't have a meaning of being somewhere (not sure how reliable my dictionary is). However since Korean allows omitting topics, it's not at all far-fetched to presume that a sentence like 역이야 can be interpreted as 내가 있는 곳은 역이야. The same goes to 어디야. This is just a way to interpret it, I don't know if a native speaker actually interprets it this way.

English where is it, as OP has provided, is interpreted the same way, where instead of omission, the pronoun it is used instead to mean where you are (네가 있는 곳), although I personally find where you are more common, using it to imply the context in English, and shortening/implying topics(contexts?) in general, is pretty common for many languages. (at least the four I know, from four different language families)

Again this is just a legitimate, not necessarily the actual way this is interpreted. Please do downvote this (and please leave a comment to correct me) if you are confident I am wrong.


We do use '이다' for locations. You can use '이다' either to ask someone's location or to tell someone where you're.

For example,

'너 지금 집이야?' '어, 집이야'

You'll hear this usage A LOT in Korea.

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