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Korean to the Nth Degree!

Posted by on December 4, 2012

If you’ve been pounding away at Korean for more than for few months now, you’re probably already familiar with the Korean suffix “도.” It is equivalent to “degree” in English and is attached to the end of a number to express the temperature, as in “38도 (38 degrees)” etc. It is also the word used to describe the degrees of an angle, so “180도 달라졌어요,” just as in English, means that something has changed completely, or by 180 degrees.

When this word is used in its broader sense, however, as in, “You didn’t have to take it to that degree” etc., the Chinese character 도 (度) combines with 정 (程) to create the word, 정도. This is the Korean word for “level,” “degree” or “extent.” Bear in mind, though, that this is not the “level” from “I’m in Level 3,” but rather the “level” from “I never imagined you would take it to that level” etc.

It’s a good rule of thumb that whenever you see a word that ends with “도,” you can assume that it has something to do with degrees or levels. A similarly used word is “급 (級),”  but let’s save that for another lesson.

Let’s take a look at some examples that make use of the word, “정도.”

나는 그 사람이 그 정도로 한국말을 잘할 줄 몰랐다.

I never realized he spoke Korean that well.

그 정도는 너무 지나친 것 아니야?

That’s really taking it too far.

우리 사이에서 적어도 그 정도는 해줘야 한다고 생각하지 않아?

At this point in our relationship, don’t you think you owe me at least that much.

These are some of the most commonly used words that contain the “do” suffix for “level”:

빈도: frequency
이 지역은 교통사고 발생 빈도가 높은 곳이다.

고도: elevation
고도가 높은 산에 오를 때는 정상에서 기온이 갑자기 떨어질 수 있으므로 주의해야 한다.

각도: angle
어떤 각도에서 찍느냐에 따라 얼굴이 달라 보인다.

밀도: density
서울은 인구 밀도가 매우 높은 도시이다.

인지도: level of recognition
제품의 인지도를 높이기 위해서는 TV 광고가 필수적이다.

온도: temperature
에너지 절약을 위해 겨울철 실내 난방 온도를 20℃ 이하로 제한해야 한다.

강도: strength
지난 달부터 체력을 기르기 위해 강도 높은 운동을 시작했다.

난이도: level of difficulty
이번 시험에서는 언어 영역의 난이도가 높았다.

해상도: resolution (of a screen etc.)
이번에 출시한 스마트폰은 뛰어난 해상도를 자랑한다.

과도하다: excessive, to much (adj.)
그는 많은 유산을 받았지만 과도한 지출로 결국 파산하고 말았다.

2 Responses to Korean to the Nth Degree!

  1. SK

    This website is awesome. Thank you for everything you’re doing! *patiently waiting for more intermediate/advanced posts to study* ^^

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