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?’


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