Greetings and Salutations:
hello – 안녕하세요 (anyong haseyo) (You are wishing them peace.)
This is the most important expression you will learn. It means “hello” and more. It can also be used for “How are you?,” “I’m fine,” and “Have a nice day.” You will hear it everywhere.
Goodbye – 안녕히 가세요 or 안녕히 계세요. (anyong hee kaseyo or anyong hee gyeseyo.) 안히 가세요 means goodbye to the person going. If you are staying, and someone is going, say this. 안녕히 계세요 means goodbye to the person staying.녕 If you leave, say this one.
Good Morning – 안녕히 주무셨어요. (anyong hee choo moo shee-ah-seyo). I have had different Koreans give me different translations of this greeting. They use it for good morning, and the first lady who taught it to me says it literally means, “Did you live through the night?” They are impressed if you know this expression because it is not something they teach in most language books. For English speakers, though, we want to say “Good Morning.”
Good Night – 잘 자요. (chal chayo). Literally, this means “sleep well,” but it is the closest they have to “Good Night,” and it is used like “Good Night.” “Chal” means “well,” and “chayo” means “please sleep.” This is also one I didn’t learn in their books, but I had to learn from the people. As English speakers, these kinds of salutations are important for us to learn, and the Koreans writing the languages books don’t understand that we want these kinds of expressions.
How are you? – 잘 지내요? ( Chal cheene yo?) This is not literally “How are you?” That expression is not actually in Korean. It translates more like “Are you feeling well?” They are surprised when you say it because it is also not something in their language books, and they don’t expect a foreigner to know it. However, English speakers really want to ask people how they are.
I’m fine. – 네, 잘 지내요. (Ne, chal chineyo.) “네” actually means “yes.” The rest of the phrase means “I feel fine.” This is the answer to “Chal cheene yo?”
As far as the Koreans are concerned, the three most important expressions for you to learn are how to say “hello” and how to say “goodbye to the person going” and “goodbye to the person staying.” They don’t expect us to learn these other phrases, but we think differently than they do, and we have things we want to say they don’t realize we want to say. As far as “good afternoon” or “good evening,” you will have to go with “안녕하세요.” It is one word that is good for many things.
Reading the words you see in Korean:
There are four letter spots for each syllable in Korean, two on top and two on bottom, but they are not all used every time. For example, “네” is just two letters, “ne.” “잘” is three letters, “ch” (ㅈ) “ah” (ㅏ) on top, and “L” (ㄹ) on the bottom. 지내요 is a three syllable word. 지 is one syllable and is pronounced “chee.” 내 is another syllable and pronounced “ne.” 요 is another syllable and pronounced “yo.” The “ㅇ” at the top of that syllable has no sound. 안녕 is a two syllable word. 안 begins with ㅇ, so there is no sound, and when a word begins with this letter, it means the first letter is a vowel, and you will see it in the second place. ㅏ is “ah.” “ㄴ” is “n.” The first syllable “안,” is pronounced “ahn.” The second syllable is 녕, it also begins with “ㅇ,” which also means that the second syllable begins with a vowel, “ㅕ” (yo). The second syllable ends in “ㅇ.” When a word ends in “ㅇ,” it is pronounced “ng.”