We went through this in class a while ago, but I pretty much forgot which one was which the minute I left that class. When I looked for the difference on Google, I found a brilliant article but since it is in Korean, I thought I would summarise it in English for a quick review.
From my understanding, both ‘○○답다’ and ‘○○스럽다’ make a noun into an adjective. However, they are actually really different in their nuance.
1. ○○답다 describes something with traits that are usually associated with the thing itself. For example, you can describe a man as manly by using 남자답다 or an elderly person as old using 어른답다 because it is taken for granted that a man will be manly and an elderly person will behave like an old person.
2. ○○스럽다, on the other hand, is used to show contrast between the thing it describes and their actions. For example, if a young person was rather mature, you could say that they are 어른스럽다. A young person is usually associated with immaturity but in this exceptional case, this person is not immature.
With ○○스럽다, the first thing that comes to my mind is usually Kim Jong Kook’s Lovable (사랑스러워).
The song’s use of ○○스럽다 highlights another key difference between the two.
1. ○○답다 is often attached to concrete nouns like man (사내) and masculine (사내답다) or teacher (선생님) and teacher-like (선생님답다).
2. ○○스럽다, on the other hand is often used to make adjectives with abstract nouns like peace (평화) and peaceful (평화스럽다) and whim, caprice (변덕) and unpredictable, capricious (변덕스럽다).
Who said KPop can’t be educational?
If you want to read the original article, please click the link below. I would recommend it if you are an intermediate or higher intermediate level in Korean – it is a fairly simple and informative read!