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What's the difference between 곁에 and 곁엔?

Korean Language Asked by Kasturi Mone on November 7, 2020

so 곁에 and 곁엔 are pronounced differently but is there a difference in meaning? google translate says the first one means ‘beside’ and the second one is ‘by the side’ so I’m confused, how is it different?

One Answer

This version of 우유송 uses 곁에, but another uses 곁엔. Both "항상 내 곁에 우유" and "항상 내 곁엔 우유" translate to "Milk always around me" (Please note that they are incomplete sentences). As the context is ambiguous and too many lines of the lyrics are incomplete sentences, we cannot be sure about the role of ㄴ there. At least I can say that it does not really matter whether you attach ㄴ to 곁에. I will give you some possible interpretations for the roles of ㄴ (는):

  1. ㄴ may be an emphasizer; it emphasizes "always around me," "around me," or "me." The removal of an emphasizer from a complete sentence does not make it incomplete, though the nuance could change.

  2. ㄴ may be a focus maintainer because the previous lines, "공부하다 한잔" and "게임하다 한잔," imply that there is always milk around. You do not attach it to something when you think that the focus is still on something else. You should note that one of these three complete sentences can also follow the lines "공부하다 한잔" and "게임하다 한잔": 1. 항상 내 곁에 우유가 있어 (Focus: "(always) around me"). 2. 우유 항상 내 곁에 있어 (Focus: "milk"). 3. 항상 내 곁에 우유가 있어 (Focus: "milk" or something else). I would say that the latter two can both be written as "항상 내 곁에 우유" when 있어 is removed (Of course, they can also be written as "우유는 항상 내 곁에" and "항상 내 곁에 우유가," respectively).

  3. ㄴ may be a marker for implicit comparison/contrast because we know that everyone does not have milk around. If "(항상) 네 곁에는 주스" or something similar to it were somewhere in the same song, it would be explicit comparison, but there is no direct mention of other people's favorite beverages.


From my viewpoint, music videos are bad materials for several reasons:

  • Verbs and adjectives are often omitted from the lyrics.
  • Singers may mispronounce some words, deliberately or not.
  • Writers may misuse some words, deliberately or not.
  • Subtitle makers can make errors in typing.

Although it is your choice whether to use them, I would recommend reading some textbooks.

Answered by Klmo on November 7, 2020

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