Command, Suggestion and Past in Formal Style

There are different verb endings for command and suggestion in formal style.  For statement in command tone the verb ending to use is 십시오 (shipshi.o) and 으십시오 (ushipshi.o) for verb ending in vowel and consonant respectively. So 가십시오 (kashipshio) would mean ‘go!’ and 읽으십시오 (ilkushipsio) would mean ‘read!’.  The usual verb ending for command statements are actually 시오 /으시오 (shi.o/ushi.o) however, this is deemed too authoritative thus the use o honorific marker 십 is recommended.

The verb ending for command is often misspelled as 시요, this should be carefully noted as 시오 and not the polite verb ending 요.

To make a statement suggestive the verb ending ㅂ시다/읍시다 (shida/ushida) is added to verb with final vowel and consonant ending respectively.  To summarize the verb endings the i learned, i created the table below for reference:

Type of Statement Vowel Ending Verb Consonant Ending Verb
Statement ㅂ니다 습니다
Question ㅂ니까 습니까
Command 십시오 으십시오
Suggestion ㅂ시다 읍시다

All the verb ending above is attached to base form of the verb except for the past formal style.  As what I previously learned past base of verb is formed by the using the infinitive form plus ㅆ then the verb ending will always be 습니다 as ㅆ is consonant. Here are some examples:

  • 갔습니다 (kassumnida) – went
  • 했습니다 (haessumnida) – did it
  • 앉았습니다 (anjassumnida) – sat

Formal Style Verb Ending

Most of the first Korean phrases I learned are actually written in the Formal Style of speaking while my previous entries including examples made use of the polite and intimate or casual style.  The formal style is often used for communications with impersonal relations such as official discussion, business or to someone whom you met the first time.  This is the safest way to communicate in Korean specially if you are not sure of the age or the status of the person you are talking to. 

The verb ending for formal style is ㅂ니다 (pronounced as mnida) for verb ending in vowel and 습니다 (pronounced as sumnida) for verb ending in consonant.  Please note that the final consonant ㅂ is given the ‘m’ sound instead of the usual b/p.  Example would be for verb 가 (Ka which means go) in formal style this verb will be 갑니다 (kamnida) while verb 신 (shin which means to wear shoes or socks) would be 신습니다 (shinsumnida).

However, there is a rule in using this verb ending for  the ㄹ-extending verb.  Those verb that ends with ㄹ, drops it before attaching to the verb ending.  So for the case of the word 살 (sal which means live) when used in formal style this becomes 삽니다 (samnida). 

To make the expression in question form, 다 (da) in the verb ending is replaced by 까 (kka).  Unlike in the polite ending 요 (yo) which can only be discerned as question by means of voice tone.  Let’s take the classic phrase 안녕 (annyeong) which is a Korean greeting meaning ‘hi’ but it literally means ‘be well or be in good state’, in formal style this is expressed as 안녕합니다 (annyeonghamnida) so it’s like saying hi to someone that you don’t know or met the first time.  When used this way ‘안녕합니까?’ it now means ‘how are you?’

Particle 씩 (sshik)

This particle means per or a piece.  Its use can be compared to what we say in English ‘I work 4 hours per day’ however in a Korean sentence this is expressed as ‘In a day I work 4 hours per’.  The particle goes with the expression of time or quantity. So I work 4 hours per day can be expressed in Korean this way:

하루에 네 시간씩 일합니다 or 일해요 for less formal statement (Haru.e ne shicansshik ilhapnida/ilhaeyo).  Literally this means ‘In a day, I work four hours each’.

This particle is used at the end of numerical expression and usually refers to other element in the sentence like a subject/object or a time expression with the particle 마다 (mada -each/every).  You can find this particles used along with the particle 마다 which somehow means the same. See example below:

어머니랑 날마다 두 시간씩 전화로 이야기합니다 (Omonirang nalmada du shicansshik chonhwaro iyagihamnida).  This literally means ‘With mother every day two hours by means of phone I speak’.  It kinda look odd but this means ‘Everyday, I speak to my mother two hours through the phone.’

Lastly, this particle is used more like in English when the expression means distribution.  친구들한테 담배 한 갑씩 줬어요 (Chingudulhante tambae han kapsshik jwossoyo). Literal translation is ‘To friends cigarette one pack each given’ so it means I gave my friends one pack of cigarette each.

Particles 마다 (mada) and 만 (man)

Two new particles enter my knowledge base of Korean language.  For the past days my posts have been related to numbers and so it’s just timing to learn some particles that somehow relates to numbers, frequency, counting or limiting.

Let’s take the first particle first called 마다 (mada) which is equivalent to each/every.  So when you want to say ‘every morning’ its 아침마다 (achim.mada) or if ‘everyday’ its 날마다 (nal.mada). However, when used in a time expression, this particle takes the function of article a(n).  For example saying 날마다 삼십 분 (nalmada samship pun) would mean 30 minutes a day.

The second particle is 만 (man) which can either mean only or just. It’s actually a particle that restricts the noun expression it follows.  Now I know why one of my favorite Korean songs is translated as ‘Look Only at Me’ and sometimes ‘Just look at me’, the title in Korean is 나만 바라봐 (Naman Parabwa).  When a noun is followed by this particle, the subject particle 이~가 and 을~를 is not normally used.  For example:

연필만 있어요 (Yonpil issoyo) would mean – There are only pencils, it’s unusual to say 연필을 있어요 (Yonpireul issoyo).  Another application would be expressing ‘doing the same thing’ as in ‘Lately all I do is study’.  In Korean, this is expressed as 요즘 공부만 해요 (Yojum gongbuman haeyo).  This particle can also be used with a proper noun (as in persons name) or korean pronoun equivalent (as in 나, 저, etc.) In cases you want to say ‘Only Jane knows’, this can be expressed as 제인 씨만 알아요 (Jane sshiman arayo).

As i usually mention when discussing particles, these form part of the word so the pronunciation is seamless or without a pause.


Last posts was all about time, it’s going to be dates this time around.  During my first few days of posting, I was really aiming for Hangul lesson a day… admittedly I couldn’t keep up with a daily posting due to an equally important thing –my bread and butter.  Anyway,  it was foolish for me to include dates in Korean in my post during those times as one of the features of blogging is to have date and time stamp of post.

Interestingly, when giving dates in Korean the rule is to start from the longest to the shortest time element.  This is opposite how dates are relayed in English.  For example, in English we would normally say:

2:30 PM, Monday, July 14, 2008

In Korean this will be expressed as: 이천팔년 칠월 십사일 월요일, 오후 두시 삼십분 (ichon.palnyon, chilwol wolyoil, ohu dushi samshippan).  Literally this translates to:

  • 이천팔년 – 2008
  • 칠월 십사일 – July 14 day
  • 월요일 – Monday
  • 오후 두시 삼십분 – afternoon 2 o’clock 30 minutes

So with just the date the format is simply 이천팔년 칠월 십사일  which is 2008 July 14 or in most cases you will see this format 2008년 7월 14일 (literally year 2008 7th month 14th day).

Counting Months

I almost skipped this lesson.  I have posted topics on counting years and weeks already.  Months can be counted with either pure Native Korean or Sino-Korean numerals.  Months(in duration) can be counted in Korean using 달 (dal, native) or 개월 (gae wol, Sino-Korean) as marker.  So one month can be expressed as 한 달 (han dal) or 일 개월 (il gaewol).

In talking about months as in January, February March etc, knowing how to count 1 to 12 in Sino-Korean plus the constant marker 월 (wol)  followed by optionally pronounced marker 달 (dal) is the key.  In a mathematical expression the formula is <Sino-Korean Number>+ 월 + 달.

Below are the months in Korea, 달 is enclosed in parenthesis indicating it’s optionally pronounced:

  • 일월 (달) – ilwol (dal), January
  • 이월 (달) – iwol (dal), February
  • 삼월 (달) – samwol (dal), March
  • 사월 (달)  – sawol (dal), April
  • 오월 (달)  – owol (dal), May
  • 유월 (달)  – yuwol (dal), June
  • 칠월 (달) – chilwol (dal), July
  • 팔월 (달) – palwol (dal), August
  • 구월 (달) – guwol (dal), September
  • 시월 (달) – shiwol (dal), October
  • 십일월 (달) – shipilwol (dal), November
  • 십이월 (달) – shipiwol (dal), December

More on Time

Still on expressing time, in English we creatively express the time by using phrases like it’s 15 minutes past the hour of 10 in the morning or it’s 45 minutes before 11 in the morning.  In Korean there is also some other ways of expressing time similar to that.  12:40am can be expressed:

  • 아침 열두 시 사십 분 (achim yeoldu shi saship pun) the usual way but the other way is to say;
  • 오후 한 시 일십 전 (ohu han shi ilship cheon) which is actually 20 minutes before 1 o’clock in the afternoon literally this is 12:40am.  This is how to say it in Korean similar to the italcized numeral expression above.

We also usually hear stressed on time expression such as at exactly 1:30.  Thi is expressed as 정각(에) cheonggak(e) in Korea as such 한 시 삼십 정각에 (han shi samship cheonggake) is ‘at exactly 1:30’.

For the purpose of telling time 시 (shi) pertains to hour or o’clock but this cannot stand alone as mentioned in my previous post on markers.  For hours pertaining to duration or time in general, 시간 (shican) is used.