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everyone. I need some help to understand the function of a particle in the sentence

학생들이 나오는 게 수업이 다 끝난 것 같아요.

I understand its overall meaning. In the final part we have a guess (수업이 다 끝난 것 같아요) and in the first part we have a reason/evidence for that guess (학생들이 나오는 게). My doubt is in the word 게. If I am right, it is an abbreviated form of 것이. So, there is this subject particle 이 here, which indicates that the sentence 학생들이 나오는 것 is the subject of some action/descriptive verb. What is the verb associated to this subject?

I also found a second sentence which this same structure:

기침도 하고 열도 나는 게 감기에 걸릴 것 같아요.

Again, there is no problem understanding the meaning of the sentece. I just don't understand what the particle 이 is doing there. I don't know if I'm right but, as an intermmediate student, if I had elaborated these sentences myself, I would have used -(으)니까:

학생들이 나오니까 수업이 다 끝난 것 같아요,

or maybe -(느)ㄴ데:

기침도 하고 열도 나는데 감기에 걸릴 것 같아요.

These options, even if they are not correct, would sound more natural to me. But would never consider using 이.

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  • PS: right after I wrote this post, I found a third sentence: 날씨가 흐린 것이 오후에 비가 올 것 같아요. This particle 이 seems to come up often with the 것 같다 grammar.
    – DrOlliver
    Nov 11, 2023 at 16:26

1 Answer 1

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학생들이 나오는 것이 수업이 다 끝난 것 같아요.

It can be thought of as [학생들이 나오는 것] =~ [수업이 다 끝난 것] since the subject particle 이/가 is often used to couple two things (e.g. 개는 포유류 동물이다 = A dog is a mammal). What it really means, however, is "Seeing that the students are coming out, it looks like the class is over". The first part gives a reason or background for the main clause. -을/를 보니(까) is probably the closest thing to "seeing that/as ...", as in 학생들이 나오는 것을 보니까 수업이 다 끝나 것 같아요.

  • 학생들이 나오니까 수업이 다 끝난 것 같아요 is close in meaning but -니까 also has another usage which indicates direct cause and effect, as in 이 단추를 누르니까 커피가 나왔어요 = It dispensed coffee when I pushed this button. So the sentence has a slight possibility of ambiguity. -는 걸 보니까 on the other hand is free from ambiguities since 보다 doesn't really affect a reality in any way.

  • 기침도 하고 열도 나는데 감기에 걸릴 것 같아요 is not a good way to say it because -는데 usually implies some tension or contradiction between the two clauses. 기침도 하고 열도 나는 게 is much more natural.

-는 게/것이 ... -는 것 같아요 / -는가 봐요 / -나 봐요 is a kind of idiom. It is used a lot, likely because it is the most succinct way to express the idea.

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  • So, when you wrote [학생들이 나오는 것] =~ [수업이 다 끝난 것] and 이/가 couples two things , what you were saying is that the sentece 학생들이 나오는 게 수업이 다 끝난 것 같아요 has the same strutucte as A이/가 B 같다 := [A] =~ [B]? I hope I didn't understand it wrong cause this way of thinking made totally sense to me. Thank you very much. I appreciate your answer.
    – DrOlliver
    Nov 16, 2023 at 23:31
  • I would say equating the two as when we say "A is/appears to be B" is with a little bit of simplification, because "XX이/가 YY-는 것 같아요" is most often used when XX actually does YY except that the speaker is not really sure about it, as in 저기 진수 씨가 오는 것 같아요 (It appears there's 진수 coming over there). The two things in out example is not quite as closely tied or have a subject-predicate relationship as in this example, so we might say it is an extended version of this simpler case.
    – Tony
    Nov 17, 2023 at 3:14

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