I have come across the following sentence in a dialogue between two people, one of which has a very common name.

A: 흔한 이름은, 제가 흔한 이름을 가지고 있었기 때문에 항상 저는 한 학년에 제 이름과 같은 이름을 가진 동명이인이 한 명씩은 꼭 있었어요.

B: 꼭 있었어요? 와. 그러면 어떻게 구별해서 불렀어요?

I'm trying to understand the grammatical construct in the last sentence: 구별해서 불렀어요. How would you translate this? Something like "How did they call you to distinguish you?" Could you give me some other sample sentences using this construct? Is there anything corresponding to it in English?

1 Answer 1


"-해서" is the shortened form of "-하여서". Almost any verb ending in the form of "-하여서" is frequently shortened in the same way. So we know "구별해서" is same as "구별하여서", which is then interpreted as "구별하다" + "-여서".

Standard Korean Language Dictionary has three meanings for "-여서". The best fit for here would be "수단이나 방식을 나타내는 연결 어미", translated in National Institute of Korean Language's Korean-English Learners' Dictionary as "a connective ending used to indicate ways or means". With the interpretation, the phrase "구별해서 부르다" is "부르다" with the specific ways of "부르다" by "구별해서": distinctly.

So your translation is pretty much precise, although I would suggest "How did they call distinctly each of you?".

  1. I feel the implicit object is more likely to be each of the two with a name, rather than just A.
  2. The role of "-여서" is closer to restricting the ways than the purpose. If it is "구별하려고" instead of "구별해서", "to distinguish" would be correct.

The Learner's dictionary contains some other examples of "-여서" with the same use.

  • 살균 처리해서 유통하다 (distribute with sterilization)
  • 꽃과 풍선으로 장식해서 꾸미다 (decorate with flowers and balloons)
    • ("장식하다" and "꾸미다" is pretty much redundant .)
  • 면접에 합격해서 회사에 입사하다 (enter the company by passing the interview)
  • 반복하여서 읽고 따라하다 (read and follow repetitively)

As I translated the third example, the general correspondence in English for putting "-여서" to a verb is turning it into a participle. It covers the all three uses of "-여서": sequence, reason or cause, ways or means. Then, each use may be specified by adding a preposition "after", "because of", "by". Usually, there is an English adverb to naturally replace the participle phrase.

Note that depending on the original verb, "-아서" or "-어서" should be used instead of "-여서", as in "보아서" and "들어서". Also note that "-여서", "-아서", "-어서" can be shortened to "-여", "-아", "-어", so that "구별해서" is further shortened as "구별해".

  • Wow, thank you for your explanation! +1
    – Sam
    Jul 31, 2017 at 14:33
  • @Sam You should accept this answer if you are satisfied​ with it! Thanks. Jul 31, 2017 at 15:40

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