I hope this is not an off-topic question, but I really appreciate it if you help me to understand the meaning and usage of this grammatical rule: "-는 셈 치고".

In my book (함께하는 한국어 3), this grammatical rule is explained as "어떠한 사실을 가정할 때 사용한다", but again I don't undrestand its usage and meaning.



가: 진수 엄마, 핸드 믹서 샀네.

나: 네, 외식 한 번 하는 셈 치고 샀어요.


가: 이 식당은 별로 맛있어 보이지 않아요.

나: 다른 식당도 없는데, 그냥 속는 셈 치고 한번 먹어 봐요.


(After knowing the answers):

Actually, I knew the meaning of each word in those examples, and found that "셈치다" means "to suppose". So I translated those sentences like this:

1- Suppose I have eaten in a restaurant once and bought this hand mixer!

2- Suposes we have been fooled so let's try food here this time.

I couldn't get the relation between actions before and after "셈 치고" part and got confused.

  • 2
    This is a very nice question and don't worry about the off-topic issue when asking a question. We welcome almost all questions.
    – user7
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:29
  • @Rathony, Thanks! Happy to hear that! So, can we ask "please edit my sentence" too ( I mean 'proof -reading')?
    – Soudabeh
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:31
  • 1
    We have not decided our policy on the issue yet. Why not? We are in Beta and it is too early to decide anything. I will be more than happy to help you. It is not English Language and Usage. :-)
    – user7
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:33
  • 1
    Very good! Thank you so much, @Rathony. Happy to have you here too. :)
    – Soudabeh
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:35

3 Answers 3


'셈(을) 치다[잡다] is a very popular idiom derived from the noun '셈'.

(주로 ‘-은/는/을 셈 치다’ 구성으로 쓰여) 미루어 가정함을 나타내는 말.

'셈' is the noun form of '세다' which means to count or calculate.

돈을 세다. Count money.

참석자의 수를 세다. Count the number of participants.

"어떠한 사실을 가정할 때 사용한다" means

You hypothesize an action as if it happened when it actually didn't happen. (It is very similar to the subjunctive mood in English)

For example:

진수 엄마, 핸드 믹서 샀네. Jinsu Mom, you bought a hand mixer. (I notice you have a new hand mixer)

네, 외식 (eating out) 한 번 (once) 하는 (do) 셈 (count) 치고 샀어요 (bought). Yes, I bought it with the money I could have spent if I had eaten out at a restaurant once.

In order to understand the second sentence, you need to understand that the two actions (buying a hand mixer and eating out at a restaurant) would have cost the same amount of money. That's what '셈 counting' is supposed to mean. You count (calculate) how much would cost to buy a hand mixer and how much would cost to eat out and if you think there is no difference, you take one action (to buy a hand mixer) over another action (to eat out).

It is not an easy idiom, but the more examples you read, the easier it will be for you to understand.

다른 식당도 없는데, 그냥 속는 셈 치고 한번 먹어 봐요. (Literally) Since there are no other restaurants, let's just eat at the restaurant as if we were cheated by it.

This sentence is a little more complicated. "속는 셈 치다" is a broadly used idiomatic expression where 'being cheated = eating out in the first example" and "eating at the restaurant = buying a hand mixer". In other words, 'being cheated' doesn't happen, but the speaker thinks it is OK even if (s)he were cheated by the restaurant (even if the food were not delicious).

"속는 셈 치고 XYZ 한다" could be understood as "we would have nothing to lose even if we did XYZ". The second example could be translated to:

We would have nothing to lose even if the food were not delicious at the restaurant because we already factored in the possibility when we made the decision.

  • @Soudabeh It's not an easy idiom and I tried my best. Does it make sense?
    – user7
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:56
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    Thank you so much, @Rathony. Great explanation! Yes, now I think I can find a Persain equivalent for it.
    – Soudabeh
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:58
  • 1
    @Soudabeh Then, you can ask another question on ELU. :-)
    – user7
    Jul 15, 2016 at 15:01

This is a really tricky one to explain in English. To translate the first example,

A: "So you bought a hand-mixer?"

B: "I bought it, considering it[the action of paying for the purchase] as if I were eating out for once."

In other words, B bought the hand-mixer(whatever that is), thinking that [the cost of] paying for it is equivalent to [that of] eating out for once. This may imply that B has been eating out quite regularly, until she bought the hand-mixer, at which she skipped eating out for, say, that week.

For the second example,

A: "This restaurant doesn't seem too promising."

B: "But there's no alternatives, just think you're getting fooled[by the restaurant] for this time and give it a try."

Well, that's the literal translation, a better idiomatic English transaltion for 속는 셈 치다 would be "take a risk".

  • 1
    Mujjin Gun, Great help!+1 Thanks to Rathony's and your relpy, now I undrestand what this structure implies. :)
    – Soudabeh
    Jul 15, 2016 at 15:18

Answer for your PS part.

It's like, at first sentence, buying hand mixer is somewhat expensive, so let's just think 'I have eaten in restaurant' and just buy it. (relationship between them? Maybe they are all related to eating something.) It can be changed - or even can changed to its antonym - like 돈 버리는 셈 치고(suppose I just discard my money) or 외식 한번 안하는 셈 치고(suppose I give up eating out once). (I'm not that very sure for last one, but I think it looks fine.)

In second sentence, 속는 셈 치다 is widely-used idiom, and it's like 'I don't like this restaurant, but they say they are delicious. Okay, suppose they fool me, and let's eat there'.

Hope this can answer your question.

  • nice explanation! +1
    – Soudabeh
    Aug 14, 2019 at 18:21

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