These two Korean words have the same meaning. 아주 and 너무 both mean very or too in English. For the longest time i am always inclined to use 너무 than 아주. Last Saturday in my Korean class, my 선생님 (seonsaengnim — yes this is how teachers are addressed in Korean) gave a tip on how to differentiate the use.
According to my teacher 아주 is positive compared to 너무. The latter tends to be negative and a bit exaggerated. It may even sometimes sound sarcastic. So when complimenting people it would be safe to use 아주 instead.
I am writing some of my recommended activities in learning Korean. This is based on my experience as Korean Language entusiast. To learn this language really needs passion, so I just couldn’t imagine how challenging it is for someone who needs to learn Korean because it is simply required in their profession or job.
There are 4 things worth considering which I find helpful in my day to day learning of Korean.
- Learn how to read Hangul. If you really intend to understand the language you need to study their writing system and pronunciation rules using Hangul. Romanization will not help you speed your fluency. You will only be troubled by the way characters are translalated from Hangul to alphabet as there are different ways to romanize Hangul. I remember in my earlier days of learning, i had language exchange partners who i wrote emails with in romanized Korean and they are so confused on what I mean. Like the word 십팔 (shippal) which is actually eighteen, another word sounding like this means vulgar. The word 씨발 (sshipal) means fu*k. Although they are romanized differently since there is no single standard in romanization, one should be cautious in using this word the romanized way.
- Buy a book that explains the Korean language structure and use. Instead of buying phrase book, get to know how sentence are formed. How words are structured for conversational use. I remember buying every phrase book that I saw from the bookstore simply because there are pointers from one book which is not discussed on the other book. I ended up having 5 phrase book and it contains almost the same thing except for a portion or section. Each of the book tells me how to say 안녕하세요, 반갑습니다 etc. At the end of the day you will only memorize these words and never really know how each word is used. You might end up wondering why nouns or verbs have different pronunciation (and later discover that there is such thing as particles or post-positioning in Korean). I suggest you invest on a book that explains the language the linguistics approach. I am very much happy with my Elementary Korean Book. I learned a lot from it.
- Invest on a good English-Korean Dictionary. Make sure you buy the one that has Hangul characters on it and not a pure romanized Korean-English dictionary. If you are confused on word, search on my posting about dictionary entry =)
- Watch Korean movies and listen to Korean songs. Reading the book may trouble you with the pronunciation so you can validate sounds when you listen to native speaker speacilly on the characters that become glutha rest or with dual sound (ㄹ-l/r; ㄱ-g/k). There are likewise nuisance in the pronunciation of Korean words so this will help you. Listening to music will also help you practice Korean translation. It likewise help you validate what you have learned on you own.
I know it sometimes becomes a bore but you just have to be patient. Try to read something in Korean a day may it be a lesson from a book, a post in the internet, etc. and if it seems to be tiring get hold of your dictionaty and learn at least 2 to 3 new words… this way you learn slowly but surely. Happy Learning.