What it means:
Something you may have noticed if you’ve read through a few of my song translations/vocabulary lessons is that there are many ways to say “because” in Korean. There are 1 or 2 that carry an extra nuance of some kind, and there are 1 or 2 that only get used in certain situations. This one – 니까 or -으니까 – is not one of those. It just simply means “because”, “so”, or “since”, depending on how you like to translate it. You’ll see via the examples below.
This construction can be used mid-sentence to mean, “Because of the first clause, the second clause is happening.” or it can be used in a single clause sentence to provide the reason for whatever was described in the previous sentence(s). When used mid-sentence, this construction can be shortened to -니 / -으니. This is more commonly done in writing than in speech.
There are 2 other grammatical principles that look similar to or exactly like this.
1. The high-respect form of a question
2. A short statement made to someone in frustration or annoyance. The 니까 adds emphasis in such cases.
How to attach it:
This particle is used with verbs, adjectives, and nouns. It attaches a little differently to nouns than to the rest.
Verb and adjectives:
It is not necessary to conjugate the verb or adjective into the past or future tense. The verb or adjective in the second clause will be conjugated to indicate the tense of the sentence. However, you CAN choose to conjugate the verb or adjective into the past tense. Particularly if you’re ending your sentence with this, so there’s no second clause to tell us which tense our sentence is in.
If the word root ends in a consonant add -으니까. If it ends in a vowel add -니까.
If the noun ends in a consonant add -이니까. If it ends in a vowel add -니까.
혼술 (Honsool) by Agust D:
취기가 올라오니까 솔직해져 보자 내 삶에 관해서. ~ “Since I’m getting tipsy, let’s get honest about my life.”
Original verb: 올라오다 – for something to rise (in this case, intoxication)
Yeah, 날 만든 사람 바로 너니까. ~ “Yeah, because it’s you who made me.”
Original noun: 너 – you
전한지 못한 진심 (The Truth Untold):
…너에게 다가설 수 없으니까. ~ “…because I can’t draw near to you.”
Original verb construction: 수 없다 – to not be able to do X
운명을 찾아낸 둘이니까. ~ “Because the two of us found destiny.”
Literal translation: “Because we’re the two that found our destiny.”
Original noun: 둘 – two
브레이크 부러졌으니 밟아 엑셀 ~ “Since the brakes are broken, step on the accelerator.”
Original verb: 부러지다 – to break (conjugated into past tense)