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I found the following sentence is not correct on Duolingo:

뜨거운 아이스크림은 그리 안 맛없어요.

While the following is correct:

뜨거운 아이스크림은 그리 맛없지 않아요.

I wonder why the first sentence is not correct. The other user on the forum already asked the question but since no one responds (which is very common in Duolingo Korean course), let me ask the question here.

So can I use the 안 negation with 그리? Or is it just a bug?

If both are acceptable, which one is more popular or used more often?

  • I don't have any explanations as to why, but the first one definitely doesn't sound right. The second one might sound kind of complex (since there are 2 negations), but is not unacceptable in my opinion. – Jeonghyeon Lee Aug 20 at 9:38
  • @JeonghyeonLee Is double negation that complex? I believe it is common in any languages. – Blaszard Aug 20 at 9:40
  • I guess that's true. Never mind that part. – Jeonghyeon Lee Aug 20 at 9:50
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I can think of two reasons why the first sentence ("뜨거운 아이스크림은 그리 안 맛없어요.") is unnatural:

  1. As @Jeonghyeon Lee said, I don't think 안 and another negative item (such as 맛없다, 모르다) can occur together, in general. This is akin to the English phrase:

    I didn't like nothing! (Meaning, "I did like something.")

    Such a phrase is also unusual in English and can only happen when the speaker emphatically negates a negation: for example, when they are responding to another person saying "You told me you liked nothing!"

    Because it's emphatic in nature, it will be strange to further modify it with ambivalent expressions, e.g.,

    I didn't like nothing a little bit. (???)

    ...which is basically what's happening here, I think. In Korean, we could similarly say:

    A: 먹어 보니까 진짜 맛없지? = It's really tasteless now you tried, eh?

    B: 맛없어! 맛있기만 하네! = It's not not tasty! It's actually very good!

    But you cannot combine it further with "그리", which means you are not feeling strongly about it.

    On the other hand, I believe "-지 않다" doesn't have this restriction and can be used more freely.

  2. 그리 is a bit old-fashioned and less common in everyday speech. Negation by "안 ...해요" is quite informal. So having them next to each other feels strange. If I change the sentence to "뜨거운 아이스크림은 별로 안 맛없어요" then it sounds marginally better to me (though still pretty strange).

Finally, in my opinion, either sentence sounds weird. What is 뜨거운 아이스크림 and who would even want to eat it? When learning a new language, it's much more helpful to learn from actual speeches of native speakers, instead of made-up examples: the latter is how millions of older Koreans ended up memorizing "I am a girl, you are a boy" and not being able to utter one English sentence in conversation. In short, if your textbook talks about hot ice cream, I'd suggest finding a better textbook.

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This publication and this blog post deal with 안 regarding your question. There are two reasons:

  1. 맛없다 is a compound adjective and most compound adjectives/verbs are not modified by 안: 안 맛없다 is incorrect. You cannot say 맛 안 없다 either because 안 cannot separate 맛없다.

  2. An adjective/verb with the negative meaning (for example, 모르다 and 없다) and a compound adjective/verb (맛없다) including it (없다) are not used with 안: You cannot say 안 모른다, 안 없다, and 안 맛없다.

Therefore, the first one is incorrect.


I have found that 그리 안 is used as the following:

  • 그 옷은 그리 안 예뻐.
  • 너는 큰데 네 형은 왜 그리 안 크니?

In these sentences, you can use 그리 안.

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