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This questions is not about the general differences between 지 and 가(까), since 가(까) obviously has a usage not possessed by 지, that is to mark the interrogative illocutionary force at the end of the main clause.

Instead, I want to know what differences there are between 지 and 가(까) when they are used as a nonfactive complementiser in particular, as in the following two sentences:

그를 얼마나 좋아했는지(를) 나는 모른다. -> I don't know how much I liked him.

그를 얼마나 좋아했던가(를) 나는 모른다. -> I don't know how much I liked him.

I als want to know the answer to the following more detailed questions:

  1. Are there any differences in terms of their semantic implications?
  2. Are there any differences in the type of clauses (in terms of tense, aspect, e.g.) they select?
  3. Are there any differences in terms of what case markers or delimiters can follow them?
  4. Do they both require a wh-word in the embedded clause? For example, below are circumstances in which there are no wh-word in the embedded clause, and I am not sure about their grammaticality:

??그가 나쁜지(를) 나는 모른다. or ??그가 나쁜지 나쁘지 않은지(를) 나는 모른다. -> I don't know whether (or not) he is bad.

??그가 나쁜가(를) 나는 모른다. or ??그가 나쁜가 나쁘지 않은가(를) 나는 모른다. -> I don't know whether (or not) he is bad.

2 Answers 2

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Are there any differences in terms of their semantic implications?

The sentence with "-던가" sounds more like the speaker is deep in thought, or mulling over the question. ("How much did I like him? I don't know.")

In comparison, the sentence with "-는지" just sounds like a simple statement.

Are there any differences in terms of what case markers or delimiters can follow them?

I don't think so.

Do they both require a wh-word in the embedded clause?

No. If there is no question word ("wh-word") inside the embedded clause, then it becomes an (embedded) yes/no-question.

그가 나쁜지 나는 모른다. "I don't know if he is bad."

그가 나쁜가 나는 모른다. "I don't know if he is bad." ("Is he bad? I don't know.")

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There is probably no definitive answer to a question like this, but here's more information with a different take on some topics.

그를 얼마나 좋아했는지(를) 나는 모른다. -> I don't know how much I liked him.

그를 얼마나 좋아했던가(를) 나는 모른다. -> I don't know how much I liked him.

They are both correct but the first one sounds much better. -지 (는지, -ㄴ/은지, -ㄹ지) is a verb form intended for a mid-sentence noun clause like this. It is very flexible in this function and can create a clause with little positional restriction. -는가 is primarily intended as a sentence ending (the dictionary lists it as 종결 어미 (clause/sentence ending), whereas -지 is listed simply as ending which includes both connective and sentence-final ending).

-는가 can be used like -지, but it is generally a second choice. It is a little more formal than -지 and has a feel of asking a general, open question to people at large rather than a specific, personal one. -지 on the other hand is limited to in-clause use and can't serve as an independent sentence ending. Sometimes people use -는가 in place of -지 to create the more formal and impersonal effect, because -지 sounds familiar and ordinary.

As for your individual questions.

  1. Are there any differences in terms of their semantic implications?
    => As was mentioned, the difference is more in nuance and formality.
  2. Are there any differences in the type of clauses (in terms of tense, aspect, e.g.) they select?
    => In present/past tense, they conjugate the same; in future they diverge.
    • 사고의 원인이 무엇인지/무엇인가 밝혀야 한다 (present)
    • 왜 그런 결정을 했는지/했는가 모르겠다 (past)
    • 동생이 올지 확실치 않다 / 동생이 올 것인가(는) 확실치 않다 (future - no simple construct for -가)
      (There is another similar ending -ㄹ까 which can be used here, as 일찍 올까(는))
  3. Are there any differences in terms of what case markers or delimiters can follow them?
    => Generally not. But in future tense -가 becomes more roundabout as shown above.
    There are a few idioms that can work well with -가 though.
    • -는가 보다 = It appears that ... e.g. 강아지가 아픈가 보다 = It appears the puppy is sick.
    • -는가 싶다 = I have a feeling that ... e.g. 속도가 너무 빠른가 싶다 = I feel we're going too fast.
      (This 싶다 expression works with a lot of different verb endings including -지, 나, -다 and others)
  4. Are there any differences in terms of what case markers or delimiters can follow them? Do they both require a wh-word in the embedded clause? For example, below are circumstances in which there are no wh-word in the embedded clause, and I am not sure about their grammaticality:
    => As for the wh-word, both -지 and -가 work similarly. If there is no wh-word, they take on the meaning of whether it is true of not.
    • 그가 나쁜지/나쁜가 나는 모른다 have the same meaning, but again, 나쁜지 is much more natural.
      In simple everyday sentences like this, -지 is by far the best choice.

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