Basic Korean Phrases for Beginners

Korea’s national language, Hangul, is known for being among the most interesting languages to learn.

In addition to its unique alphabet, Hangul has a reputation for being fairly easy to master!

Still, you might need to work around the basic Korean phrases to use for everyday life in Korea or when you need to ask for assistance.

Here are some of the most common and basic Korean phrases to help you when in Korea.

Basic Korean Greetings

If you’re a big K-drama fan, you probably know most of the phrases used to greet other people or answer their questions.
It’s also worth noting that some greetings have different degrees of formality!
In case you need a refresher, here are some essential phrases for initiating conversations with a Korean:
  • Hello – Annyeong haseyo (안녕하세요)
  • Hello (formal) – Annyeong hasimnikka (안녕 하십니까)
  • Hello (for mobile/phone calls) – Yeoboseyo (여보세요)
  • Good morning – Jo-eun achimimnida (좋은 아침입니다)
  • Good evening – Jo-eun jeonyeogimnida (좋은 저녁입니다)
  • Goodbye (to someone leaving) – Annyeonghi gaseyo (안녕히 가세요)
  • Goodbye (casual) – Annyeong (안녕)
  • How are you? – Eotteoke jinaesimnikka? (어떻게 지내십니까?)
  • Fine, thank you – Jal jinaemnida, gamsahamnida (잘 지냅니다, 감사합니다)


Good to Know: Have You Eaten Your Rice?

In Korea, it’s considered polite to ask someone if they have already eaten.
When greeting someone, it would also be good to ask them, “Bap meo geoseoyo? (밥 먹었어요?)”
This literally translates to, “Did you eat rice?”


Basic greetings in Korean

Basic Korean Phrases for Politeness

Of course, it would be helpful for your Korean journey if you could converse politely.

Here are some phrases to remember:

  • Thank you – Gamsahamnida or gomawoyo (감사합니다 or 고마워요)
  • Please – Juseyo (주세요)
  • You’re welcome – Cheonmaneyo (천만에요)
  • I’m sorry – Joesonghamnida or Mianhaeyo (죄송합니다) or (미안해요)
  • Excuse me – Sillyehamnida (실례합니다)
  • Have a nice day – Joeun haru bonaeseyo or Joeun haru bonaesipsio (하루 보내세요) or (좋은 하루 보내십시오)
Korean phrases for being polite

Basic Korean Phrases for Conversations

It’s always necessary to construct polite and well-structured sentences for conversations when you’re in a new country.

Here are some common Korean phrases to help you make a good impression on the locals!

  • Yes – Ne or ye (네 or 예)
  • No – Aniyo (아니요)
  • Okay – Ye or Gwaenchanhda (예) or (괜찮다)
  • My name is ___ – Je ireumeun ___-imnida (제 이름은 ____입니다)
  • I am ___ – Jeoneun ___-imnida (저는 ___입니다)
  • What is your name? – Seonghami eotteoke doeseyo? (성함이 어떻게 되세요?)
  • Nice to meet you – Mannaseo ban-gapseumnida (만나서 반갑습니다)
  • Where are you from? – Eodieseo wasseoyo? (어디에서 왔어요?)
  • Maybe – Amado (아마도)
  • I don’t know – Mollayo (몰라요)
  • I understand – Algetseumnida (알겠습니다)
Basic Korean phrases for conversations

Basic Korean Phrases for Special Occasions

Need to attend a Korean friend’s birthday, greet your K-idol online, or just want to know the words for a toast?

Here are some basic Korean phrases to help you out:

  • Cheers! – Keon bae! (건배!)
  • Happy birthday – Saengil chukha hamnida (생일 축하합니다)
  • Congratulations! – Chukha haeyo! (축하해요!)
  • Happy new year! (also for Lunar New Year) – Saehae bok mani badeuseyo! (새해 복 많이 받으세요!)
  • Happy Chuseok! – Chuseok jal bonaeseyo! (추석 잘 보내세요!)

Don’t Forget: Bowing

On top of basic Korean phrases, you also need to understand the nuances of Korean etiquette, especially bowing.

The trick is that the lower you bow, the deeper you respect the other person. Of course, scenarios such as being in crowded places are not good for these types of bows.

You can perform common bows, which typically require bending forward at a 30-40 degree angle, for casual situations. 

Big bows, or 90-degree bows, are meant to show respect and servitude. Ceremonial bows, which go as far as squatting, are intended to show remorse or gratitude—usually during funerals and weddings.


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