I just learned this pattern,and I guess 수 is a meaningful word,meaning "ability". is my assumption wrong? what is its meaning or is it just a grammarical word without real meaning?

3 Answers 3


수 means your ability to do something, a possibility that something can happen, or ways you can achieve something through. It is like 'can' in English. I referred to https://ko.dict.naver.com/#/entry/koko/57b987f6990d43c69b3d812ab6818d6a

Examples: Remittance can be made by cheque or credit card. 송금은 수표로도 할 수 있고 신용카드로도 할 수 있다.

Could you help me a moment? 잠깐 나 좀 도와줄 수 있니?

  • 당신의 대답이 때문에 감삽니다
    – CN.hitori
    Dec 8, 2022 at 15:03

The "수" as in "할 수 있다/없다" was originated from the character "," which means

  • a hand,
  • a possible case/way (as in, "There's no way to do that"),
  • a possible move (in Go or chess-like boardgames),
  • possibility,
  • ability.

I looked in Minjung's English-Korean & Korean-English Dictionary. On page 382 of this palm size dictionary, 1st column, 3/4's of the way down there is a concise explanation of 수 with examples. Here is a snapshot: 《수단. 방법》 a means; a way;a resource, help; a device (방안). End of quote. So in your 2nd sentence, a literal way of asking for help if translated into English would be,"Is there a way (수) you could help me a moment?" Or, "Do you know of a way (수) that you could help me a moment?" In fact, it is legitimate to attach the subject particle 가 to 수 . For example: 잠깐 나 좀 도와줄 수가 있니?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.