In the case of something that will happen 99.99999999% of the time, let's say waking up in the morning, can 으면 be used to mean 'when'? For example is this a natural expression?

내가 깨면 아침밥 함께 먹자.

How about if the second clause is a future form, such as an intention?

내가 깨면 일터로 달릴 거야.

When would such a usage really be natural?

  • Short answer yes, there is no why.
    – user237
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 2:20
  • 1
    To add to this question, how would it compare with using -을 때? I feel like -으면 is more conditional or tentative, but I've heard these two used interchangeably a lot in actual use. I guess it's kind of like in English people even say "if/when" so there's a fuzzy line. Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 5:17
  • I don't think it is as interchangeable as it first appears. For example, if someone says "if I wake up early면" that is a lot different, because that is a conditional situation. Do you happen to have any specific examples of it being used when there is nothing conditional about it? I spent about 3 hours looking for some today, in grammar books, educational websites, etc. and only found like one with the second clause was future-oriented, but the website's author said that it probably wasn't natural...it was something he made up as an example, i'm pretty sure...
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 13:14
  • I also asked a professor, (famous) author, and PhD of Korean Linguistics my exact question above and he said "probably not, but he wasn't 100% sure and couldn't find any relevant material in his books..and i've known him for a few years and he has about every book every published about Korean.
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 13:14
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    By the way, I think "일어나면" is more natural than "깨면" here. "깨다" indicates the instant of becoming awake ("시끄러운 사이렌 소리에 잠을 깼다."), while "일어나다" means to get up. For example, if someone is still in bed after being woken up, you can say "빨리 일어나!" but not "빨리 깨!" (이미 잠은 깼으니까요).
    – jick
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


Case with uncertainty:

한국이 오늘 축구경기에서 브라질 이기면 내가 점심 살게.
If Korea beats Brazil in today's soccer match, I'll buy you lunch.

이 카드가 하트A면 로열스트레이트플러시야!
If this card is ace of hearts, then I'm royal straight flush!

내가 내일 아침 일찍 일어나면 아침밥 함께 먹자.
If I wake up early tomorrow, let's have breakfast together. (there is some possibility that I might wake up late tomorrow.)

Case with certainty:

(내일 아침 나를 제외하고 가족 모두가 일찍부터 외출하는 상황에서 어머니가 나에게 하는 말.) 내일 일어나면 다들 없을거야. 밥상에 밥 차려놓을테니 굶지 말고.
(Mom talking to me, when everybody else is going out early tomorrow morning, except me) When you wake up tomorrow, everybody will be out. I'll prepare your breakfast so don't miss it.

Actually, in the above case, we are more interested on the consequences of -(으)면 clause, rather than the possibility of such event happening. Some more examples of such case are:

해가 뜨면 밝아진다.
It gets bright when the sun rises.

운동을 하면 기분이 좋다.
I feel good when I do some exercise.


내가 (잠에서) 깨면 아침밥 함께 먹자.

It might be used in a conversation like this:

A: 내일 아침 같이 먹을래?
B: 일어날 수 있을지 모르겠네.
A: 알람 맞춰놓고 자.
B: 그래. 내가 알람 듣고 깨면(or 일어나면) 아침 함께 먹자.

  • Well, if your mom uses it like that, that's a pretty solid example. Thank you.
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 15:49
  • In your opinion, does this seem pretty natural? 내가 (잠에서) 깨면 아침밥 함께 먹자.
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 16:01
  • Do you think that 내가 잠에서 깰 때 아침밥 함께 먹자. would be used more often? Which would you usually use in a situation like this, 면 or ㄹ 때 ??
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 10:59
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    I think 면 is more natural in this case. There might be some natural use case of ㄹ 때, but I think this is not the one.
    – nglee
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 17:38

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