Korean For Dummies
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In learning Korean, you need to become familiar with the essentials: everyday expressions, question words and basic questions, the days of the week and months of the year, and essential numbers.

Question words and phrases in Korean

Learning Korean means asking a lot of questions, and if you want to ask those questions in Korean, you need to know the basic question words — who, what, where, and so on — as well as helpful questions themselves. The following table shows the basic question words:

English Question Korean Translation Pronunciation
Who? nugu? noo-goo?
What? mueot? moo-uht?
Where? eodi? uh-dee?
How eotteoke? uh-ttuh-kae?
When? eonje? uhn-jae?
Why? wae? wae?

When you want to ask a full-fledged question, use the phrases in the following table:

English Question Korean Translation Pronunciation
How’s it going? annyeonghaseyo? an-nyoung-ha-sae-yo?
Do you speak English? yeongeo haljul aseyo? young-uh hal-jool a-sae-yo?
Can you help me? jeo jom dowa jusillaeyo? juh jom do-wa-joo-shil-lae-yo?
What is your name? seonghami eotteokke doeseyo? sung-ha-mee uh-ttuh-kae dwae-sae-yo?
What time is it? myeotsieyo? myuht-shi-ae-yo?
How much is this? ige eolmajyo? ee-gae ul-ma-jyo?
Where is the bathroom? hwajangsiri eodiiseoyo? hwa-jang-shi-ree uh-dee-ee-ssuh-yo?
Can you repeat that? dasi malsseum haejusillaeyo? da-shi mal-sseum hae-joo-shil-lae-yo?
Can you slow down a bit? jom cheoncheoni malsseum haejusileyo? jom chun-chun-nee mal-sseum hae-joo-shil-lae-yo?
Where is it? eodi itjiyo? uh-dee eet-jee-yo?

Everyday expressions in Korean

Conversing in Korean means knowing the everyday expressions everyone uses in normal conversation. The words and phrases in the following table give you the essential words and phrases:

English Expression Korean Translation Pronunciation
Hello. annyeong. an-nyoung.
Please. jebal. jae-bal.
Thank you. gomapseumnida. go-map-sseum-nee-da.
Thank you. gamsahamnida. gam-sa-ham-nee-da.
I’m sorry. joesonghamnida. jwae-song-ham-nee-da.
I don’t know. moreugetseumnida. mo-reu-get-sseum-nee-da.
I don’t understand. mot aradeutgetseumnida. mot a-ra-deut-get-sseum-nee-da.
Excuse me. sillyehamnida. shil-lae-ham-nee-da.

Korean calendar terms

Being able to talk about the days of the week and months of the year are standard, new-language skills you need when learning Korean. The following tables list both, starting with the days of the week:

English Korean Translation Pronunciation
Monday woryoil wo-ryo-il
Tuesday hwayoil hwa-yo-il
Wednesday suyoil soo-yo-il
Thursday mogyoil mo-gyo-il
Friday geumyoil geu-myo-il
Saturday toyoil to-yo-il
Sunday iryoil ee-ryo-il

The following table translates the months into Korean:

English Korean Translation Pronunciation English Korean Translation Pronunciation
January irwol ee-rwol July chirwol chi-rwol
February iwol eeh-wol August parwol pa-rwol
March samwol sam-wol September guwol goo-wol
April sawol sa-wol October siwol shi-wol
May owol oh-wol November sibirwol ship-ee-rwol
June yuwol yoo-wol December sibiwol ship-ee-wol

Numbers in Korean

Numbers are essential in becoming familiar with a new language and Korean is no different. The following table shows the basic numbers from 1 to 20 along with the decade numbers to 100 in both Korean and Sino-Korean:

Number Sino-Korean Number (Pronunciation) Korean Number (Pronunciation) Number Sino-Korean Number (Pronunciation) Korean Number (Pronunciation) Number Sino-Korean Number (Pronunciation) Korean Number (Pronunciation)
1 il (Il) hana (ha-na) 11 sip il (shipil) yeol hana (yuhl ha-na) 20 i sip (ee-ship) seumul (seu-mool)
2 i (ee) dul (dool) 12 sip i (shipee) yeol dul (yuhl dool) 30 sam sip (sam- ship) seoreun (suh-reun)
3 sam (sam) set (set) 13 sip sam (shipsam) yeol set (yuhl set) 40 sa sip (sa-ship) maheun (ma-heun)
4 sa (sa) net (net) 14 sip sa (shipsa) yeol net (yuhl net) 50 o sip (o-ship) shwin (sween)
5 o (o) daseot (da-sut) 15 sip o (ship o) yeol daseot (yuhl da-sut) 60 yuk sip (yook-ship) yesun (yae-soon)
6 yuk (yook) yeoseot (yuh-sut) 16 sip yuk (ship-yook) yeol yeoseot (yuhl yuh-sut) 70 chil sip (chil-ship) ilheun (il-heun)
7 chil (chil) ilgop (il-gop) 17 sip chil (ship-chil) yeol ilgop (yuhl il-gop) 80 pal sip (pal-ship) yeodeun (yuh-deun)
8 pal (pal) yeodeol (yuh-duhl) 18 sip pal (ship-pal) yeol yeodeol (yuhl yuh-duhl) 90 gu sip (goo-ship) aheun (a-heun)
9 gu (goo) ahop (a-hop) 19 sip gu (ship- goo) yeol ahop (yuhl a-hop) 100 baek (baek) baek (baek)
10 sip (ship) yeol (yuhl)

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Jungwook Hong created a Korean language program and founded the Korean Studies Organization at the University of Virginia. Wang Lee has worked as a Korean translator, tutor, and interpreter.

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