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Top 10 formal phrases to know in Korean for beginners

Reading Korean blogs is the best way to hone your language skills and reading these will provide you the support you need by giving you a sense of community and belonging. 

Korean class enrollments rose by 13.7% between 2013 and 2016, making it the 11th most studied language in the US. Most of it is because of the K-pop sensation around the world.

What you are gonna love about this language is that it doesn’t have a different masculine and feminine speech like German, French, Portuguese etc.

The order goes like ‘subject object verb’. The advantage here is you can change the order as you frame the sentence just like we do in Hindi. There are some basic formal words and phrases that will make you seem very polite to a native Korean. These can help you have a normal greetings or short and sweet conversations in Korean.

1.      Hello – ?????

An-nyeong-haseyo  -  this is used as a greeting to your elders, strangers, or your seniors. It is usually said while bowing or if it’s not that necessary just do it with the slight head bow.

In Korean language “an-nyeong” literally means ‘peace’ and “haseyo” means ‘to do’.

So the whole word translates ‘to be in peace’.

 

2.      Goodbye - ??????

‘An-nyeong-hi-ga-seyo’ When you are staying and the other party is leaving, you use this word.

Here “ga+noun” which means ‘to go’. So the word literally translates to ‘go peacefully’.

 

3.      Goodbye- ??????

‘An-nyeong-hi-ge-seyo’ –this also means goodbye but “ge-seyo” means to stay. This is also used for saying goodbye but when you are leaving and the other party is staying. So it literally translates to ‘stay-well’.

 

These two are very confusing even for Koreans themselves. But don’t you worry generally people aren’t able to differentiate between these two because while saying it people usually mumble the last few syllables.

But you might be a teenager or adult reading this, I suggest the proper pronunciations.

 

4.      Good morning – ???????

This literally translates to ‘did you sleep well?’

Natives don’t really say [?? ?? ; literal translation ‘good morning’] instead they just ask it as a question like ‘did you sleep well?’ and the other person answers with a ‘yes’.

 

5.        I will eat well – ? ????

‘jal-mog-gess-seub-nida’ - This phrase is used when you are having a meal with your elders or someone superior before stating the meal. Using this phrase shows that you are grateful for the food.

Generally everyone uses this phrase which shows their good manners and politeness.

 

6.      I ate well – ? ?????

‘jal-mog-eoss-seub-nida’ – This phrase is used after you are done eating justifying you enjoyed your meal. These phrases are taught to children from very young age.

 

7.      Thank you – ?????

‘gam-sa-hab-nida’ – I don’t think there’s much to tell you about this word. When you’re using this with your elders or seniors, a little head bow would usually do and make you look more polite.  

 

8.      Since the formal use is all about respecting seniors and being polite the next word we’re gonna learn is seniors in work place or school.

Senior – ??

“seon-bae” -: this is how it is grammatically spelled, but it is pronounced as “sun-bae”.

 

Now for any higher post like teacher, parents or say super senior, we add honorifics at the end. Most of you might not be aware of this since we don’t use this in English language.

9.      “-?

“-nim”; it is literally pronounced as it is written. This honorific is only used when you address someone, like the word senior will turn to “sun-bae-nim / seon-bae-nim”.

 

10.    Nice to meet you – ??? ????

“manna-so banga-woyo” – you can include this in your greeting and still making acquaintance. Note that you can only use this in your introduction since it is nice to meet you and not nice meeting you.



I guess these many words are enough if you are new to the language. If you use these efficiently, it is considered very polite and appreciated among natives. 

For anyone who is learning any language, try to adopt a holistic approach. I’d say it is the best way to ace any language.


Here’s an extra pro-tip for y’all: when you are learning the new words or vocabulary, write all the words together of same topic, for example, if I say ‘school’ then write all the words related to it like teacher, student, library, books etc.

This will not take that much effort but will help you keep your conversation active because usually you talk about a topic and then move to another so this will keep your convo comprehensive and in good flow.      


 I hope these few study tips will help you accelerate your learning experience. It would be grateful if you sustain your commitment to  learning any language in long-term.


Thank you !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Kinjal Parmar

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A student trying to improve her skills.