Intermediate Grammar #19: ~(으)ㄹ까 봐 “I’m worried about A, so B”

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~(으)ㄹ까 봐:

  • The first clause is the action the speaker did (or is doing) because they are worried that the second clause will happen (or has happened)
  • Equivalent to “I was worried about A, so I’m doing B” OR “It’s because I’m worried about A that I’m doing B”


  • The second clause can often end with simply ~(으)ㄹ까봐 걱정이에요 (“… so I’m worried.”)
  • Don’t: Use future tense clauses – the action must have occurred or be occurring



  • A/V: ~았/었을까 봐
  • N이다: 였/이었을까 봐


  • A/V: ~(으)ㄹ까 봐
  • N이다: 일까 봐

(스파이더맨 – Spiderman) Examples:


과거 (스파이더맨 엔드류가필드 – Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman):

  • A: 나는 영화에서 약한남자로 보였을까 봐 헬스클럽에 가입하고 날마다 근육만들기 했어요.
    I was afraid I’d look like a weak guy in the movie, so I joined a health club and worked out every day.
  • V: 내 생각에 리자드맨은 나를 먹었을까 봐 내 몸을 독으로 씻었어요.
    I was afraid the Lizard man was going to eat me, so I washed my body in poison.
  • N이다 (현재): 나는 리자드맨이 여자일까 봐 가벼운 펀치를 날렸어요.
    I was afraid the Lizard man was a girl, so I punched it softly.
  • A: 이모가 내 멍을 봤을까 봐 내몸에 이모의 메이크업을 발랐어요.
    I was afraid my aunt would see my bruises, so I applied her makeup to my body.
  • V (현재): 이모부를 죽인 범인을 내가 죽일까 봐 빨리 경찰이 감옥에 데리고 갔어요.
    I was afraid I would kill my uncle’s murderer, so the police quickly took him to prison.
  • N이다 (현재): 거울에 이모부를 죽인 범인을 볼까 봐 집에 모든 거울을 세게 때렸어요.
    I was afraid I’d see [the reflection of] my uncle’s murderer in the mirror, so I destroyed all the mirrors in my house.

현재 (스파이더맨 토비맥와이어 – Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman):

  • A: 새로운 스파이더맨영화가 너무 재미있을까 봐 시네마에 안 보러 갔어요.
    I was afraid the new Spiderman movie would be too awesome, so I didn’t go watch it in the cinema.
  • V: 새 스파이더맨 배우가 돈 더 많이 벌까 봐 내 옷장에 앉아 울어요.
    I was afraid the new Spiderman actor made more money than me, so I sat in my closet and cried. ㅠㅠ
  • N이다: 전화가 따르릉 울릴때 앤드류가필드일까 봐 안 받아요.
    I was afraid that when my phone rang it would be Andrew Garfield, so I didn’t answer it.
  • N이다: 스파이더맨4 준비하는중에 감독이 원하는 스파이더맨 배우가 나일까 봐 그 때 너무 바쁘게 되었어요.
    I was afraid that while they were preparing Spiderman 4 the director would want me to be the Spiderman actor, so I got really busy at that time.

**These are notes from Korean Grammar in Use: Intermediate. For more in-depth explanations, buy the book.