Okay, so I decided to post this in the event you were watching a show and noticed they said this and thought your ears were deceiving you. I’m here to tell you that you did hear them use 없어요 instead of 있어요 and that there’s a reason for it.
Let’s just discuss what this means.
- 거기 누구 없어요? (geogi nugu eobs-eoyo?) | “Is anybody there?”
- Bonus: 안에 있어요. (an-e iss-eoyo.) | “I’m inside.” / “It’s inside.” / “She’s inside.”/ “He’s inside.”
- 거기 | there
- 누구 | who; someone
- 없어요 | to not have
You may be wondering, why would we use the negative, (i.e., not having) instead of saying 있어요 (i.e., to have) and my answer is… This is one of those things that if I were to translate it exactly to English, it wouldn’t really make practical sense because this is kind of like asking, “Is no one there?” If no one is there, how can anyone answer you? So the immediate answer would be, if nobody is there, “No, nobody is here.”
So why not use 있어요?
I’m going to try to explain this simply and hopefully I don’t confuse you.
누구 없어요? vs 누구 있어요? is more a contextual difference. Meaning, thinking someone else is there vs not being sure someone else is there.
So an easier translation (distinction):
- 거기 누구 없어요? (geogi nugu eobs-eoyo?) |”Is nobody there?”
- You think someone else is there
- 거기 누구 있어요? (geogi nugu iss-eoyo?) |”Is anyone there?” “Someone’s there?”
- You’re not sure if someone else is around
Slight difference but not much of one to worry too much about when you use this.
Hopefully this wasn’t confusing! I know I left out some grammatical points as to why this is used as well but I was trying to explain this as simply as possible without getting too complex.