Common Place Nouns

Whenever I watch Korean movies, drama or any TV shows,  I always hear these commonly used nouns.  In fact in many cases where I took taxi in Seoul, the driver always ends up asking me ‘여기? ‘.  These are the common words that that are indicative of location:

  • 이 (i) this
  • 그 (gu) that, referring to something  nearby
  • 저 (jo) that , similar to over there or something far from the speaker

Now if you add -기 after this words they become place nouns with exception of 이 which becomes 여기 (yeogi);  그기 (keugi) and 저기 (cheogi)  for the other two.

Sometimes it gets confusing when you try to listen to actual Korean conversation because you will hear 요기 (yogi), 고기 (gogi) and 조기 (chogi) apparently pronouncing the words this way add some sort of cuteness.  Well I am not really sure about how cute that is but hearing someone speak in Korean produces that pattern and rhythm that i love to hear.

Honorific Nouns

On my earlier days of studying Korean, i have been introduced to some words that are called honorific.  These are words that are used when talking to someone with high social status, government official, foreign guest, teachers etc.

When honorific words are used the polite (-요) or formal (-ㅂ니다/습니다) style of speech. Many of the honorific words I learned before are actually verb such as 주무시 (chumushi) instead or 자 (ja) for the word sleep or 드시 (dushi) instead of 먹다 (mokta) for the verb eat.   Apart from these verbs, there are noun that are considered honorific.  Here are some of the examples:

Regular Noun

Honorific Noun

English Meaning

집 (jip) 댁 (daek) House
나이 (nai) 연세 (yeonse) Age
사람 (saram) 분 (bun) Person
밥 (bap) 진지 (chinji) Rice
아이 (ai) 자 녀분 (cha nyeobun) Children
자 제분 (cha chebun)

These are the nouns preferred when talking to an esteemed person.

Place Nouns and 에

I learned place nouns as Korean would name it.  The use of this nouns and 에 will help communicate clearly specially when location is discussed.  Among the few place nouns i learned are:

  • 안 (inside) used primarily when describing a space or location that can be loosely filled
  • 속 (inside) same meaning as 인 but is used mainly for space or location which can be easily identified as filled
  • 밖 (outside)
  • 위 (above, on top, over)
  • 밑 (below, bottom, underneath)
  • 아래 (lower, down, below)
  • 앞 (in front)
  • 뒤 (at the back, behind)
  • 근처 (within the vicinity, near)
  • 옆 (next to, beside)
  • 사이 (between)

Positioning of the noun is important since the above place nouns can be used to modify another noun.  I thought the language is not sensitive to such but I was wrong:

  • 문 뒤에 –  would mean behind the door or located behind the door but if word order is changed to
  • 뒤 문 –  it would then mean the ‘back door’ or door at the back or door behind.  뒤 is used to modify 문

 I also learned one important place noun which will be helpful when I travel to Korea, this is 편 or 쯕 which denotes direction or side (as location).  So to say the following:

  • On left – 왼 편에 or 왼 쯕에
  • On right – 오른 편에 or 오른 쯕에