I haven't met my colleagues yet:
My attempt: 내 동료들이 아직 안만(난/나요)
Naver: 아직 동료들을 만나지 못했어 

This I kind of don't get why you use 못하다... To be honest, I'm really puzzled by the use of this verb. I see it everywhere with a slightly different meaning every time..

Thanks in advance for the help!

2 Answers 2


In general, 안 + Verb is a general "do not + Verb", whereas 못 + Verb means "can not + Verb"; however, 못하다 is much broader in meaning than the English "cannot", so that it is used instead of 안 in many cases where we will still use "do not" in "English.

Some examples of how 못하다 is used more broadly in Korean:

  1. When you haven't done (haven't been able to do) something yet:

동료들은 아직 못 만났어요.

(In this case, you'll often see the word 아직 and a past tense)

  1. Where there is some insufficiency; especially, something wasn't good:

그 영화를 즐기지 못했다 (I didn't/couldn't enjoy the movie)

  1. When there's an insufficiency of knowledge of some sort:

그것은 예상하지 못했어요 (I didn't/couldn't expect that)

As you can see, in examples 2 and 3, "didn't" would be more natural for the English translation, yet Korean would often use "못하다". In general, there won't be a rule of when to use 못하다, but by hearing it used in various situations, you'll get a feel for when 못하다 is more appropriate than 안하다.
I think it can be safer to use 못하다 in certain cases though, to emphasize that something was involuntary and that you want to do it; 동료들은 못만났다 makes it seem like you want to / intend to meet them; if your boss asks about a project that you haven't finished, using 못했습니다 makes it seem more like you were trying, compared to 안했습니다.


안하다 : do not do

Even though I can do it, I do not do because of my will.

못하다 : can not do

I haven't met my colleagues yet. 아직 동료들을 만나지 못했어.

Here I want to meet them, but by a lack of my skill or an external component, I can not meet.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.