Hangul for Real

I was in Seoul for five days and it was a fascinating experience to personally hear Koreans speak and try out my little skills.  Being able to read Hangul is an advantage at least, so having that pocket dictionary will at least help you in case you can’t speak the language. 

Some of the most helpful greetings I have used are:

  • 안녕하세요 – annyeonghaseyo, which is an overly used phrase equivalent to good morning, good evening, hi or hello
  • 감사합니다 – kamsahamnida, to say thank you and i have also used 고마와요 (komawayo) after being served when we dined in.
  • 괜찮아 / 괜찮아요 (gwaenchana/gwaenchanayo) is very handy to say its okay, no problem or are you okay? (just change the intonation). 

Honestly I am not confident to speak the language but there are times that I am forced, instead of just doing some sign language. It really helps to know the basics:

  • 예/어니오 (ye/aniyo) which mean yes and no respectively are very basic as a reply to simple questions.  
  • ~ 즈세요 (~juseyo) the polite ending which means please give me.  This has been very useful when asking for something specially on traditional Korean restaurant where people don’t speak English at all.  I remember ordering rice and requesting for water using this phrase and it goes like this:
    • 밥 즈세요 (Bap juseyo) – ordering rice.
    • 물 즈세요 (mull juseyo) – requesting for water.
  • 얼마나요?  (olmanayo) simple but polite way to ask ‘how much?’
  • ~이/에요 (i.eyo/eyo) noun plus this ending is proven to be very helpful its like asking or saying..’is this ~’.  I remember using this to ask if the building in front of us is what we are looking for. Orange Shock 이에요? (Is this Orange Shock?) 
  • ~ 좋아요 (chuayo) this verb ending could mean ‘to like’, and I had the guts to say to an 아즈씨 (ajusshi or polite way to address an old man) 휘성씨 좋아해요  (Wheesungsshi chuahaeyo). Got it 😉  Wheesung is the famous R&B singer in Korea who is under Orange Shock label.

It was fun roaming around Seoul Korea.  Having a first hand experience trying at least a part of these things that I kept on studying since last year was worth it.  Much more, saying the above phrase the Korean way is fun.  I love the intonation.  I need to be better in speaking the language when I go back. 한극말을 잘 하고싶어 (Hangukmareul jal hagoshipo) I wish to be good in Korean.


The wonders of Korean language.   As you know in English verbs are supposedly action words and adjectives are words used to describe — in short descriptive words.  In Korean,  verb as I have always been mentioning is the most important part of the statement and is usually placed at the end. 

Adjectives in Korean are formed by manipulating the form of a descriptive verb.  An example is the word 예쁘 (yeppu which means pretty) the infinitive form of this descriptive verb is 예뻐 (yeppo).  As discussed previously on creating the infinitive form of words, if it ends in ㅡ, the letter is dropped and ㅏ or ㅓ is added depending on the vowel before ㅡ, so in the case of yeppu its ㅖ by rule the infinitive form should end with ㅓ.  So how is the adjective derived from this word?  simply add ㄴ so its 예쁘+ㄴ = 예쁜 (yeppun or romanized as yeppeun in some cases).

The same thing is applied when transforming the word 기쁘 (gippu) to an adjective, it becomes 기쁜 (gippun or gippeun).

I have a feeling that there are other ways to transform words into adjective in Korean… maybe in the future lessons of the book I’d be able to find this out.

Negating a Verb – The Short Form

I just learned how to form a negative verb…the short way and i am just about to find out how is it done the long way.  These words easily turn verb into negative:

  • 안 (an…)  – this is derived from the word 아니오 (ani-o) or 아니 (a-ni)
  • 못 (mot…) yes its mot not ‘mos’ while ㅅ is equivalent to the sound of letter s, when its a final consonant it is not released (swallowed as the book says) so its sound is ㅌor ‘t’ instead.  However if its followed by a verb that start with i or y sound then it is pronounced at niy or nny.

So how is 안 different from  못? the first one simply means none, not and the latter tends to be more emphatic as in cannot, not possible or absolutely cannot.  Example:

  • 잘 안 자요 (jal an jayo) – means not able to sleep well
  • 잘 못 자요 (jal mot jayo) – means cannot sleep well

From the example above you will notice that this words are placed immediately before the verb regardless if the verb is formed by adding ~하.  So you won’t say 좋아 안해요 (chuha anhaeyo –> if you want to say don’t like) instead it should be 안 좋아해요 (an chuahaeyo).

The example below sets the difference in tone of the statement as you use 안 or 못.

  • 커피를 안 마셰요 (kopi-reul an masyo-yo) this means ‘don’t drink coffee’
  • 커피를 못 마셰요 (kopi-reul mot masyo-yo) would mean ‘ can’t drink coffee’

The first states the person is not drinking the coffee while the second one is more applicable when one cannot drink coffee simply because the person is not allowed or does not like coffee.

Another difference is that 못 cannot be used before a descriptive verb like 예쁜 (yeppeun which means pretty), 기쁜 (gippeun which means glad or pleased), etc. 

Happy Birthday

Few weeks ago I have been writing about days, months and numbers.  Today since someone is celebrating her birthday, its timely to know how to day the greetings in Korean.  Birthday in Korean is 생일 (saeng-il) so to day happy birthday:

  • 생일 축하합니다 (saeng-il chukha-hamnida) this is polite formal way to say it
  • 생일 축하해요 (saeng-il chukha-haeyo) this is the casual polite way

Birth of a child is known as 탄생 (tansaeng) in Korea and birthplace would be 출생지 (chulsaengji).  To ask date of birth one may use the word, 생년월일 (saeng-nyon-wo-ril).