KGYSAK: To clean

Clean. Think of all the different ways we use this word in English. It's a broad brush that has a lot of interpretation. In Korean, each instance is broken up into slew of different verbs and adjectives. Let's find out when it's appropriate to use each one:

청소하다 - to clean (general)
This is used in general to refer to cleaning but should not be used as a 1:1 replacement for the English equivalent. Examples:

이 빌딩을 청소하는 사람은 모두 5명이예요.
This building has five people who clean it.

저는 청소하는 것을 좋아해요.
I like to clean things.

청소 합시다!
Let's clean!

깨끗하다 - to be clean
Now think of "clean" as an adjective. Examples:

깨끗하게 청소했구나
Wow you really cleaned the room up nicely! (lit. cleanly cleaned)

이 빌딩은 정말 깨끗하군요. 누가 청소를 하나요?
This building is really clean! Who cleaned it?

우리는 깨끗한 물을 마셔야 해요.
We should drink clean water.

방이 정말 깨끗해졌네. 청소했어?
The room became so clean. Did you clean?

치우다 - to clean off
The next verb is more of taking away items or a wiping off a table. Examples:

이것 좀 치워 주세요.
Please clean off the table.

이 쓰레기 좀 치워주세요.
Please take out this trash.

밥 먹고 식탁 치우는 건 제가 할게요
After I eat, I'll wipe off the table.

저리 좀 치워!
Put that away!

마루 닦다 - to mop
This one is a bit confusing because in English we have a mop (명사) that used for mopping (동사). Korean separates these into 대걸레 and 자루걸레 that are used for 마루 닦기. Another thing of note is that 마루 and 바닥 mean the same thing. Examples:

부엌 마루를 닦아
Mop the kitchen floor

마루 닦았어?
Did you mop?

왜 바닥 안 닦았어? 내가 벌써 말했잖아.
Why didn't you mop the floor? You know I already asked you to do that.

쓸다- to sweep
A broom (빗) is used to sweep (쓸다) things. Ignore dictionaries that claim that 닦다 is also sweeping. That verb is used when liquid is involved. Examples:

교실 바닥 쓸었니?
Did you sweep the classroom floor?

청소할때 먼저 쓸고나서 걸레로 바닥을 닦아요.
When cleaning, first sweep and then mop the floor.

낙엽을 쓸어 담아 주겠니?
Will you rake up the fallen leaves?

청소기를 돌리다 - to vacuum
The original phrase was 진공청소기를 돌리다 but it's always shortened in conversation to simply 청소기. In English we think of pushing a vacuum cleaner, right? In Korean think of it as 돌다 to spin or 돌리다 to make spin. Examples:

내일 꼭 청소기 돌려
Make sure tomorrow that you vacuum.

매주 청소기 돌려야돼
You should vacuum every week

청소기 돌리는 거 싫어해
I hate vacuuming

정리하다 - to organize, pick up, put in order.
When you think of cleaning a refrigerator or picking up a room, think of this verb. Examples:

책상 정리 좀 하고 다녀
Go and clean off your desk

주말에 차고를 정리하려고 해.
I plan on cleaning the garage this weekend

주변 정리 잘 하는 사람이 일도 잘 하는 거야.
People who clean well work well (makes more sense in Korean, trust me)

설거지 - to wash dishes.
Everyone's least favorite kitchen chore. Examples:

설거지 좀 해줄래?
Would you wash the dishes?

엄마를 위해 설거지를 했어요?
Did you wash dishes for your mom?

부엌에 가서 설거지하는 것 점 도와드려.
Go to the kitchen and help out with the dishes.

5 Responses to “KGYSAK: To clean”

jun101 said...

I feel very lucky to find this blog. ^^ I am new to the Korean language and I want to start to learn it. Could you please give any suggestion on where I have to start? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Really great... thank you sooooooooooo much.. :)

Adelia Kaye said...

It's been a while since you began (and ended?) your KGYSAK posts, but I've just run into them and love them! Thanks so much for posting, Mr. Smith. I'm nowhere near intermediate level yet, but I still feel as though I've learned a lot from these posts!

Matthew Smith said...

Thank you all for the friendly comments. I'm glad that someone out there has enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

I'm not entirely done writing new posts on this blog, but it has taken a backseat position. New job, less opportunity to study the language, you know the drill. I will (repeat) will come back to this and continue to grow and learn Korean.

Until then...

Adelia Kaye said...