The two different websites I have visited have introduced different versions of quoting future tense sentences. Here's my example sentence using the two versions:

곧 도착할거라고 했습니다 = He said he'll be here (arrive) soon.

곧 도착하겠다고 했습니다 = He said he'll be here (arrive) soon.

What is the difference between the two versions? Is it just the differences between the ㄹ/을 것이다 and 겠다 suffixes? Or is it just preference?

My guess here is that the latter sentence sounds a little better to me with what I have learned about standard future tense conjugations. Thanks for the help!


Grammatical Difference

The most distinct difference is that one sentence forms tense by modifying the noun and the other conjugates the verb.

NOUN라고 했다

VERB겠다고 했다

for more info on why is a noun, see "Contraction TMI" below

Personal Style Difference

It is also a little overbearing to speak in a way that would not allow for acts of God or other changes in plan to alter the potentiality of the related idea.

Consider that we don't really say, It's is going to rain but rather It *looks like* it's going to rain. Of course, there is nothing wrong with saying It's going to rain, but as humans we have a tendency to leave the probability of chance in our phraseology.

Therefore, the ㄹ/을 것이다 ending includes a bit of doubt and would be more conversationally appealing for use, perhaps. Unless of course the one arriving was very clear that he would be there, and the more confident version is called for the purpose of accuracy.

more information that may be useful but are not really part of "the answer":

Contraction TMI

The phrase ㄹ/을 거다 is actually a contraction of ㄹ/을 것이다. Expand that contraction and one would have:

곧 도착할것이라고 했습니다

It is easier to speak in contractions as there are fewer vowels and syllables to navigate.

Tense TMI

There are three ways to indicate tense in phrase.

  1. Verbs conjugations showing tense: 았/었/였, 겠
  2. Noun/Adjective modifiers showing tense: ㄴ, 는, 을
  3. Adverbs showing timing/tense: 곧, 지금, 아까, 늘, 일전에, etc

Consider these versions of the NOUN modified and VERB conjugated sentences in the past tense which also have the same grammatical and style differences:

어제 도착한거라고 했습니다

어제 도착했다고 했습니다

  • 1
    That is odd because I learned that ㄹ/을 것이다 leaves no room for doubt and that 겠다 implies intent or assumption. This is why I thought 겠다 would be better because the speaker intends to arrive soon. However, he can't say that he will without any doubt. – Josh Everly Jul 12 '17 at 16:08
  • Well ㄹ/을 것 같다 leaves room for chance. Also, consider 겠다 in this example: 죽겠다! (I'm DEAD!) whereas dragging it out and making it more like ㄹ/을 것 같다 waters down that certainty: 죽을 것이다 (The thing is...I'm dead.) Nevertheless, intonation and associated body language will certainly override words used (see sarcasm). I am not a native speaker; however, my wife of 18 years is a 43 year native, born and raised completely in Korea and only Englisized as of 1999. She agrees that 겠다 is certain and ㄹ/을 것이다 less certain, and ㄹ/을 것 같다 rather dubious. This is what 연세어학당 taught, too. – 제이 죤스톤 Jul 12 '17 at 16:19
  • Ah I see thanks! Thanks for the help man! (Also side note: eww Perl programming) – Josh Everly Jul 13 '17 at 5:27
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    I think you're both right in a way, but it depends on the situation. I would say that that the English "will" translates closest to 을 것이다. "Will" is a bit stronger, but even in English it's not 100% definite. On the other hand 겠다 can be more like "definitely will" but also can mean "I bet it is ..." as an assumption. You can find this frequently in canned phrases like 맛있겠다 or 좋겠다. I think it's this dual nature of 겠다 that's leading to the confusion. Also as far as relative usage, day to day, I hear 을 것이다 way more than 겠다, and when I do hear the latter, it's usually in canned phrases. – ryanbrainard Jul 13 '17 at 11:28

Well, if you are quoting, then wouldn't you just use what was spoken originally? Isn't that what a quote is?

Regarding the difference between 겠 and (으)ㄹ 것이다, the former is an subjective assertion (I have reason to believe...) and the latter is a "probable future" (something probably will happen)....neither is precisely the same as "will" in English, but ㄹ 거 is closer. If you want to talk about the definite future, you need to use time words such as 내일 or whatever, and then you don't even have to use either so-call "future" conjugation at all...

내일도 해가 돋는다. The sun rises tomorrow too. (which could be translated as "will rise")

You could put that sentence into one of the two "future" forms, but in fact that might make it less strong...

  • Well I mean quite often we don't quote someone word-for-word but yeah what you said makes sense. Like we can say: 다음주에 바쁜데 to mean "I'm busy next week" and so while it is not conjugated in the future tense we can still get our meaning across that "I will be busy next week". – Josh Everly Jul 14 '17 at 19:12
  • right but if that was the quote, you would just change다음주에 바쁜데 to 다음주에 바쁘다고, you wouldn't change it to 바쁠 거라고 .. anyways, in the case of endings like ㄹ게 and other future-oriented promises, proposals, etc. you should use ㄹ 거라고 and not 겠...you'd only use 겠다고 if the original quotation used it, according to what I've read. – B. Alvn Jul 14 '17 at 19:59

1) 겠다 = 할 것이다 = experience and observation in nonflexible thing, no room for doubt

By considering smell, the food may be delicious 냄새를 맡으니 그 음식은 맛있겠다.

@food has no will

Soon sun will fall. 곧 해가 질 것이다

@scientific fact.

2) 하겠다=하다 + 겠다 = will

I will pass the examination = I promise that I will pass the examination. 나는 시험에 통과 하겠다.

@ Even though we meet obstruction for study, I will overcome it and pass.

3) 할 것이다 = may (and observation)

I may pass the examination 나는 시험에 통과 할 것이다.

@ Because I am smart and study hard, so if I do not meet some accident, and I do like before, then I may pass the examination.

4) under some condition or at extreme situation (That is, variables is decreased)

By overwork, I may die. 일을 많이 해서, 나 죽겠네.

@ Because I study hard, thing in my head is one and it is a rest.

If you do like your middle school period, you must obtain a success.

중학교때처럼 하면 너는 성공하겠네.

@ He study very hard in middle school period.

If you do like your middle school period, you may obtain a success.

중학교때처럼 하면 너는 성공 할 것이다

@ We do not know all about world so that talker has a careful attitude.

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