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What are Some Basic Phrases You Need to Know in the Beginning When You First Get to Korea?

As you know if you read my blog, I get questions to my inbox, and I had several questions about “what does this say?” and “What does that say,” and they all seemed to be things that people needed to understand when they first got to Korea. I decided I needed to just send out a blog of Korean phrases that people need to know when they first get to Korea. Here they are:

These people are close in age, so they could use the “yo” form with it being polite.///Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Cho-un maney-yo – “It is good to meet you,” or “It is nice to meet you,” or “It is nice to see you.” This is in the “yo” form which means that you are meeting someone close to your age or station in life. (“maney-yo” is the part that actually means “meet.” It comes from “mannada” if you want to look it up in the dictionary.

Koreans don’t bow as much as Japanese, but if the person is older than you are, you should bow and use the “subnida” language.

Cho-un bab subnida = “It is good to meet you” or “It is good to see you,” or “It is nice to see you.” This is used when you are talking to someone older than you are or are trying to be more formal. The “bab” part is the part that means “meet” or “look” or “see.” It comes from “boda.” “Boda” doesn’t actually mean “meet,” but “look” or “see,” but they use this sentence as “Pleased to meet you” anyway.

Any time you greet your friends, the thing to say is “Anyeong haseyo.”

Anyeong haseyo = “Hello,” “hi,” “how are you?,” “have a nice day,” “good afternoon,” according to the context and voice inflection. It literally mean “Please have peace.” “haseyo” comes from “hada,” and “seyo” is one of two things. It is a request form or is a polite form for simple present tense. “Anyeong” means peace. The answer to “Anyeong haseyo?” is “Anyeong haseyo.”

All kids need to learn the “subnida” form because everyone is older than they are. If a child tells an adult, “Hello,” they are expected to say “Anyeong hashipda,” and “How are you?” = Anyeong hashipnika?

Anyeong hashipnika = the more formal form of “Anyeong haseyo” used for “How are you?” The “ka” on the end tells you it is a question. If it has “da” on the end, it is not a question. Use this if you are talking to someone who is older than you are or someone you need to show a lot of respect to.

You can use “Chal chine yo?” when you greet your buddies who are your age.

Chal chine yo? = Are you feeling well? or Are you feeling happy? or How are you? / This is used less often than “Anyyeong haseyo,” but occasionally, you will hear it. “chal” means “well.” “chine” means “living your life.” The answer is usually “ne” (yes).

If someone is leaving, say, “Anyeong hee kaseyo.”

Anyeong hee kaseyo = “Good bye” to the person leaving. It leaterally means “Go in peace.” “Anyeong” means “peace.” “kaseyo” means please go.” It comes from “kada” ( to go). If somoene says this to you, say “Anyeong hee kyeseyo.”

If you are leaving, but your friend is staying, say, “Anyeong hee gyeseyo.”

Anyeong hee gyeseyo. = “Good bye” to the person staying. Literally “Anyeong” means “peace,” Kyeseyo” means “please stay.” This is the response to “Anyeong eei kaseyo.”

“Hanguk-oh mot habneeda” is not impolite, just a statement of fact.

Hanguk-oh mot habneeda= I can’t speak Korean at all, and I don’t plan on studying. (Hanguk= Korea), (oh= language), (mot habneeda = I can’t at all, and I really don’t care to try.) This is very formal, and they don’t consider it rude to say that you can’t do it at all and don’t plan on doing it.

If you are studying Korean or would like to study Korean, this is the way to say that you can’t speak Korean, “Hanguk mal ool hal soo obs-oyo.)

Hanguk mal ool hal soo obs-oyo = I can’t speak Korean, but I would like to. Again, (Hanguk= Korea), (mal = word, words, or langauge), (ool= a direct object marker), (hal soo obs-oyo= can’t, but the option isn’t out.) It comes from “hada” meaning “to do.”

Korean is a hard language to hear in the beginning, so this is a really good phrase to learn, “Tashee han bon malsom hay choo-asheegessoyo?”

Tashee han bon malsom hay choo-asheegessoyo? = Can you repeat that, please? (tashee= again), (han= one), (bon= time), (malssom= say or words), (hay choo-ashee gessoyo = please do). This is very formal. (hay= do) “Hay” comes from “hada” (to do). (choo-ashee-gessoyo= please), it is very formal).

Chon chon hee malsom hay chooseyo. = Please speak slowly. (Chon chon hee = slowly), again, (malsom = words, speak, say), (hay- do) from (hada) (chooseyo = please).

Chon chon hee mal haseyo. = Please speak slowly. It is the form you use with people who are your age or younger. (mal haseyo = please speak). (mal hada= to speak, to say, to talk). (mal = word). (hada = to do).

Lots of Koreans speak English, so you can try to talk to them and find out who speaks English.

Yong oh hashibneeka?= Do you speak English?, a very formal form. (Yong guk = England) (Yong oh= the English language). (hashipneeka? = do you speak?), a very formal form. (“ha” comes from “hada” (tada).) “ka” makes it a question. Use this on people you don’t know and on older people.

Morugesubnida. = I don’t know or I don’t understand. It is a very formal form. to use on older people or people you don’t know.

Morugesunika? = Do you know? or Do you understand? It is the question form. If you want to say, no,” say “ani-oh). If you understand, say “ne, algetsubnida” (Yes, I understand or Yes, I know.) This is a very formal way of speaking, so use it on older people and people you don’t know.

Morayo = I don’t know, I don’t understand. This is the form you use with people who are your age or younger. It is polite, but don’t use it with people who are older than you are.

Alayo = I know, or I understand. This is the form you use with people who are your age or younger. It is polite, but don’t use it with people who are older than you are.

I actually learned, “Algetsayo?” from an American preacher who couldn’t speak Korea, but preached in English, and every so often, he stopped and asked, “Algetsayo?” He was good at finding English speakers or people trying to learn to speak English to preach to. //Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Algetsayo? = Do you understand? or Do you know? This is the form you use with people who are your age or younger. It is polite, but don’t use it with people who are older than you are.

Eehey haji anayo. = I don’t understand. This is the form to use with people your age or younger.

Eehey hey yo? = Do you understand? Use this form with people your age or younger.

Eehey habnika? = Do you understand? Use this form with people who are older than you ro that you don’t know.

Ne, eehey heyo. = Yes, I understand. Use this form with people who are your age or younger.

Ne, eehey habnida. = Yes, I understand. Use this form with people who are older than you are or people who you don’t know.

We all need a helping hand sometimes, especially when we first get to a foreign country, so learn to say, “Cho-song- habnida, mahn, chom to-ah joo shee ghesubnika?” or “To-ah jooseyo.” //Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

cho-song-habnida, mahn, chom to-ah joo shee ghesubnika? = Excuse me, could you please help me. This is a very formal way to say it. (cho-song – habnida= excuse me). (mahn = “but”). (chom = a little). (to-ah= help). (Joo shee ghesubnika? = could you?) (“ka” means it is a question.) Use this with people who are older than you are or that you don’t know well.

to-ah jooseyo= Please help me. This is the form you use with people your age or younger.

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