If you contrast

(1) 나는 여자친구가 있어요. I have a girl friend.


(2) 나는 여자친구가 없지는 (없진) 않아요. I have a girl friend.

the latter is constructed using double negation, '없지는' and '않아요'.

What is the difference between the two and when do you use No. 2 in place of No. 1?

  • Could the second be, "That I have no girlfriend is not true."?
    – 파울울
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 21:36
  • Maybe like "It's not that I don't have a girlfriend, but...". If you were sincere about it, you would just say it - "I have a girlfriend". Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 1:52
  • Are you only interested in cases where '여자친구' is considered singular? My local Korean thought that without context being known, a possible obvious translation for 나는 여자친구가 없지는 않아요 would be "I do have female friends..." (emphasising that you don't not have them). This meaning doesn't have the connotation of unsatisfactoriness mentioned by 1ambda and lhrkknd Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 9:32

4 Answers 4


I hear the two as...

I have a girlfriend.


It's not exactly that I don't have a girlfriend...

  • Can this be compared with the 'actually, contrary to expectations' meaning here: korean.stackexchange.com/questions/2185/… ? Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 8:22
  • 1
    Not quite that, but in your answer there you mentioned another meaning, not 'very' or 'particularly' true. It is of this type. Then on top of this, the context (the shadiness of being ambiguous about whether one has a girlfriend) adds tones of hesitation or complication. Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 8:49

없지는 않아요 means there is what you want but not entirely or not recommendedly.

In that case, the man has a girl friend but she usualy does not satisfy the man, or could be a part time lover.


The second sentence means

I have a girl friend but I am not happy about that. It would be better to find another girl.

In this case, you can say in Korean, 있으나 마나 (= It is not very helpful even if I have it)


I agree with @1ambda's opinion, but there is a slight difference with me. I think his translation is a little rude and arrogant. My opinion is,

I have a girl friend, but she is just friend for now.

This means my girl friend is not very close, so I can't sure she is 'my' girl friend.

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