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알겠습니다 seems to translate to something like "certainly, sir" or "very good, sir" - a formal way to show that you have understood what has been said or asked. Does the 겠 particle here have its normal meaning of a future marker, or does it have some other function?

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  • This is only a habit, just like sb use 알고 있습니다, but without expressing the continuous state Jul 11 '16 at 15:12
  • Hello topo. Do you think it is appropriate to tag the question to "겟"? I am not sure. I wish we had a Korean linguist who specializes in Korean 국어학.
    – user7
    Jul 12 '16 at 7:39
  • @Rathony I did wonder, but I wasn't sure what else to tag it. I didn't want to say 'future' as it doesn't have a future function here. '겠' probably has a proper Korean name, and it probably has more than one English name! You could ask a meta question, or I will do so at some point.
    – topo morto
    Jul 12 '16 at 11:20
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겠 is an 어미(語尾 - 'Ending') that has five meanings. It is used to:

  • Convey future prediction/speculation.

    Ex: "지금 공부를 시작하면 밤 8시에 끝내겠어요." - "If I begin studying now, I will be able to finish by 8 o'clock.

  • Convey the intention of the subject of the sentence.

    Ex: "나는 하루종일 자겠다.' - "I will sleep all day."

  • Convey possibility/capability.

    Ex: "이 일은 재가 혼자 다 할 수 있겠습니다." - "I will be able to do this word all by myself."

  • Make an oblique, euphemistic statement/question in order to offer a suggestion.

    Ex: "그 음식 당신 혼자다 드실 수 있겠어요?" - "Will you be able to eat all that food by yourself?"

  • [The fifth meaning is a hard one to explain - the situations which 겠 Ending is used for are about either A, when a speaker expresses confidence in their conclusive assumption they have reached after a chain of thought, or B, when a speaker makes a rhetorical statement about their current situation. Half of the sentences that uses 겠 that belongs to this category are idioms and proverbs, which makes explanation for this even harder.]

    Ex #1: "별꼴을 다 보겠네." - Translated literally, it means "[I'm] seeing all sorts of sights/spectacles." An idiom that has a similar meaning in English would be "Now I've seen everything." This is a rhetorical statement.

    Ex #2: "그 사람도 나를 기억하겠지." - "I'm sure that person will remember me." Most (if not all) sentences that starts with "I'm sure..." will belong to this category, the conclusive assumption.

I found out that the phrase "알겠습니다" belongs to the fourth meaning, upon further research. Turns out it can be both statement and question.

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  • Can you imagine a deliberate literal translation to capture the meaning? "I will know" ~ "Now I (will) know it, so I have understood" ~ "I got it" ... can't really find anything, maybe it's not possible.
    – 파울울
    Jul 11 '16 at 21:40
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    @파울울 I find this simple phrase to suffice: "Understood." Of course, there are certainly nuances to 알겠습니다 that I am missing. If you remember reading Hamlet, you know how Reynaldo says "Well, my lord," to Polonious. I feel that Reynaldo's curt, affirmative attitude conveyed in that simple statement will be captured equally well by the phrase 알겠습니다. Jul 11 '16 at 22:08
  • Wouldn't it be 알겠읍니까 if it were a question?
    – busukxuan
    Jul 12 '16 at 11:32
  • @busukxuan Yes, since the ending is different. Jul 12 '16 at 18:06

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