So, the latter (그러지 마세요 = Don't do this please) is more like an order since it's direct. But would the former (이러면 안돼요 = shouldn't do this) sound less like an order and more like a suggestion? How would you see the difference in tones in the two sentences?

  • Are you talking about literal translations of these sentences or the tone in which they are used? As a literal translation one is a request and the other is a suggestion/statement. If you are asking if these are polite or rude then it is based on context and needs more information to determine, so the same answer as your previous question applies.
    – user17915
    May 30, 2023 at 1:58
  • It depends on the context, but those are often used simultaneously. e.g. "그러지 마세요. 이러면 안돼요." The difference of the two is more of a distance than a tone, I think.
    – Bihrang
    May 30, 2023 at 2:12
  • @Bihrang Can you please elaborate what you mean by distance? I am taking it to be the difference in status/relationship between the speakers. Is that right?
    – Dinu M
    May 30, 2023 at 3:22
  • @user17915 would you say the former is more of an order than a request given the imperative?
    – Dinu M
    May 30, 2023 at 3:24
  • I don't think so
    – user17915
    May 30, 2023 at 3:34

1 Answer 1


In your example, the difference in nuance is based on what the subject of the sentence is. Technically, the subject of "마세요" is "you", but the subject of "안 돼요" is "something"

I'll show you with direct translation

그러지 마세요. = You shouldn't do this.
이러면 안 돼요. = If you do, something won't work.

"안 돼요" is "안"(not) plus "돼요". "돼요" has many meanings, but the closest one in this example is literally "work".

So, "이러면 안 돼요." is a more indirect way of saying "You shouldn't do that" by stating the circumstances of the situation rather than speaking directly to the other person, and can have the effect of being polite.

The expression "돼요" with the subject omitted is used so frequently that it's pointless to specify that the subject is omitted, but it's worth knowing its origins to understand the subtle differences in meaning.

  • 1
    So, we can say that, 이러면 안돼요 works more like reasoning with someone while 그러지 마세요 is simply telling someone to not do that because the speaker doesn't like that? Would that be correct?
    – Dinu M
    Jun 26, 2023 at 12:24
  • @DinuM In fact, it feels like an over-interpretation to conclude that. This is because unless considering what feels more polite, the both expressions are often used to mean exactly the same thing.For example, the phrase "규칙을 어기지 마세요"(Don't violate the rules.) is used frequently, but not because the speaker doesn't like that, and "규칙을 어기면 안 돼요" doesn't sound like reasoning with someone. What's clear is that "마세요" is formally imperative(명령문), and "안 돼요" is not, and that's where the difference in politeness comes in.
    – user_A
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:14
  • Correction: imperative (명령문) -> request sentence(청유문)
    – user_A
    Jun 26, 2023 at 15:29
  • 1
    Did you mean to say "마세요" is formally requesting? Btw, thanks for your help.
    – Dinu M
    Jun 30, 2023 at 15:06
  • Yes. I meant that ‘마세요‘ is ‘formally’ a requesting (although the tone is more like imperative) Note: Korean grammar categorizes sentences into four types: declarative(평서문) interrogative(의문문) imperative(명령문), and request(청유문). Additionally, I spoke with a Korean professor and came to the conclusion that there is no consensus on the difference in meaning between ‘마세요‘ and ‘안 돼요’ without context.
    – user_A
    Jul 1, 2023 at 18:17

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.