-라도 / -이라도 – this isn’t the best option, but…

This grammatical principal actually has 2 slightly different uses. We’ll look at them both. But first…

How to attach it:

-라도 / -이라도 is most commonly attached to nouns, but can be attached to verbs/adjectives/adverbs as well. If the word you’re attaching it to ends in a consonant, attach -이라도. If the word you’re attaching it to ends in a vowel, attach -라도.

First meaning:

“X isn’t really the ideal choice, but it’ll do.”

Let’s say you’re baking something and it asks for the insides of a vanilla bean or something obscure like that (don’t ask how I come up with these dumb examples). You don’t have a vanilla bean in the house, obviously, so you say to yourself, “I guess I’ll use vanilla extract.” In this sentence you’d attach 이라도 to the word “extract”. This demonstrates that it’s not your favourite option, but sort of a plan B.

Examples:

No More Dream:
대학은 걱정 마. 멀리라도 갈 거니까. ~ “Don’t worry about college. I’ll go, even if it’s somewhere far away.”
Original adverb: 멀리 – far away

Not Today:
기어서라도 gear up. ~ “Even if you’re crawling, gear up.”
Original verb: 기다 – to crawl

상남자 (Boy In Luv):
편지라도 써야 될런지? ~ “Do I have to write a letter or something?”
Original noun: 편지 – a letter

하루만 (Just One Day):
꿈 속이라도 하루만. ~ “Even if it’s only in a dream, just one day.”
Original noun: 속 – the inside of something


Second meaning:

“What gets done isn’t the important thing, but the important thing is that something gets done at all.”

It’s a little harder to make this one clear. Let’s say you’ve just delivered some terrible news to someone, and they just stare back at you, with no response. In frustration, you cry, “Say something – anything!” The important thing is not what the say, but the fact that they’ve said something. To say this in Korean, you’d just say “Say something!” but you’d attach 이라도 to the word “something”.

It also gets added to words like “someone”, “somewhere”, “sometime”, to mean “anyone”, “anywhere”, “any time”.

Examples:

No More Dream:
라도 하라고 나약함은 담아둬. ~ “Do something, anything. Get rid of your weakness.”
Original noun: 뭐 – what, something

Louder Than Bombs:
어둠은 말야. 어디라도 있단 걸. ~ “When it comes to darkness, it can be found anywhere.”
Original noun: 어디 – where, somewhere

좋아요 (Like):
라도 안 하면 날 신경도 안 쓸 것 같어. ~ “but if I don’t at least do something it feels like you won’t even bother yourself with me.”
Original noun: 뭐 – what, something