There are four endings in Korean that as a learner I tend to confuse as they seem to share some similarities in form and meaning:

  • (으)ㄹ 거예요 is the 해요체 form of the (으)ㄹ 것이다 construction, which can be used for a straightforward future, for expressing intention, or for supposition.
  • (으)ㄹ게(요) (also sometimes spelled ㄹ/을께 (요)) is used to express an intended action that affects the listener, e.g. 내일 전화할게요 - I'll call you tomorrow.
  • 게(요) represents a causal intention to do something - 엄마, 돈 주세요. 밥 사먹게요 - Mum, please give me some money - I want to get some food.
  • (으)ㄹ까(요)? Is a question form which can mean 'shall I/we...'? e.g. 제가 그 분에게 전화해 볼까요? - Shall I telephone him? or 'Do you suppose...?', e.g. 김 선생님이 학교에 오실까요? - Do you think Mr. Kim will come to school?

Certain pairs of these endings share some of the following features:

  • use of '-ㄹ ㄱ...'
  • use of 게
  • talking about the future

Are there any recognised grammatical relationships between any of these forms? Is there any relationship between the 게 in some of these forms and the '겠' future particle?

1 Answer 1


-ㄹ 거예요 is the shortened and honorific version of -ㄹ 것이다. Which is -ㄹ + 것 + -이다. Other forms are -ㄹ 거야, -ㄹ 것입니다. Here, 게 comes from dependent noun 것. The 'future' feature comes from the future-tense adjective verb ending -ㄹ.

There's not a lot of research about the etymology of -게 and -ㄹ게 endings, but I presume -ㄹ게 came from shortened forms of -ㄹ 것이- (>-ㄹ 거이 > -ㄹ게).

There's several theories on the origin of -겠-, since it was only introduced into the language in the late 18th century. Some see this as shortened from '-게 있', and some see it as '-게 하였'. In both of these theories, 게 comes from the adverbial verb ending -게.

-ㄹ까 comes from Middle Korean 1st/3rd-person question ending -ㄹ가. In contrast to the other Middle Korean 1st/3rd-person question ending -ㄴ가, you can see that the "future" part comes from -ㄹ like above, and the "question" part come from -가.

There seems to be 3 different origins for the 'ㄱ' (것, 게, 가), and only one origin for the 'ㄹ' (future-tense adverbial verb ending -ㄹ).

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