Lesson 26-1. When Verb-아/어서 means “After”


We learned that Verb-아/어서 is a contraction of Verb + 그래서, a sentence connector that means “so, therefore.” (Check Beginner2-Lesson 17)

Verb-아/어서 has another meaning, which roughly means “after verb-ing”

So how is it different from Verb-ㄴ/은 후에 and Verb-고 나서, which also mean “after?”

Unlike Verb-ㄴ/은 후에 and Verb-고 나서 which merely state the sequential order of the actions that are not necessarily related to one another, Verb-아/어서 implies that the two actions are so closely related that the second action can only occur after the first action is done. Another implication is that you did the first action in order to do the second action.

Therefore, the closest translation in English would be either “after,” “and,” or in some cases “(in order) to.”

You can check the following examples below to get the better hang of its usage.


한국에 가서 영희를 만났어요. = I went to Korea and met Younghee.

지금 식당에 와서 밥을 먹고 있어요. = I came to the restaurant and I’m eating here.

친구를 만나서 영화를 봤어요. = I met a friend and watched a movie.

목걸이를 사서 여자친구에게 줬어요. = I bought a necklace and gave it to my girlfriend.

의자에 앉아서 책을 읽었어요. = I sat on the chair and read a book.

딸기를 씻어서 먹어야 해요. = You should wash the strawberries to eat.

밖은 너무 추우니까 커피숍에 들어가서 얘기할까요? = Since it’s too cold outside, shall we go inside the coffee shop and talk?

소고기를 구워서 (굽다+아/어서) 먹었어요. = We grilled beef and ate it.

호텔에 도착해서 짐을 풀었어요. = We arrived at the hotel and unpacked.

저는 항상 고구마 껍질을 까서 먹어요. = I always peel the sweet potato skins to eat it.

서서 일해요? = Why are you standing and working (=working after standing up, working while standing)?

오늘 딸의 생일이라서 미역국을 만들어서 줄 거예요. = It’s my daughter’s birthday, so I’m gonna make some seaweed soup to give her.

나중에 커서 의사가 되고 싶어요. = I want to become a doctor after I grow up.


However, when it’s used with verbs like 입다, 쓰다, 끼다, 신다 or 두르다 that designate the wearing of clothes and accessories, -아/어서 cannot be used. Instead, -고 is used in place of it.

입다: to wear (clothing, garment)
쓰다: to wear (glasses, mask, hat, cap)
끼다: to wear (hand / teeth accessories such as ring, mitten, bracelet, braces)
신다: to wear (shoes, footwear)
두르다: to wear (neck accessories, such as scarf, muffler, ties)


새로 산 바지를 입고 밖에 나갔어요 (O) – I went outside with my new pants on.
새로 산 바지를 입어서 밖에 나갔어요 (X)

지수가 결혼하고 나서 결혼 반지를 끼고 다녀요. (O) – After getting married, Jisoo always has her wedding ring on. [다니다 here means “to go about one’s daily life”]
지수가 결혼하고 나서 결혼 반지를 껴서 다녀요. (X)

제 친구가 안경을 쓰고 학교에 왔어요. (O) – My friend came to school with her glasses on.
제 친구가 안경을 써서 학교에 왔어요. (X)

오늘 햇빛이 너무 세서 아빠가 모자를 쓰고 나가셨어요. (O) – Because of the intense sunlight, my dad went out with his hat on.
오늘 햇빛이 너무 세서 아빠가 모자를 써서 나가셨어요. (X)

오늘 너무 추워서 목도리를 두르고 나왔어요. (O) – It’s too cold today, so I put on my scarf and came out.
오늘 너무 추워서 장갑을 끼고 나왔어요. (O) – It’s too cold today, so I put on my mittens to come out.
오늘 너무 추워서 목도리를 둘러서 나왔어요. (X)
오늘 너무 추워서 장갑을 껴서 나왔어요. (X)