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Essential Korean Phone Conversation Phrases


Knowing how to communicate over the phone is an essential skill. 

Whether you want to make a reservation at a restaurant or discuss business plans with your long-distance colleague, you’ll need to pick up the phone! 

Holding a phone conversation is difficult enough in one’s native language, let alone in a foreign language like Korean! But don’t worry. 

In this article, you’ll learn some essential Korean phone conversation phrases and see dialogue examples showing how they might be used. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be able to confidently make a phone call in Korean for any situation!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for Your Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Sample Phone Conversations
  9. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You Master the Korean Language

1. Picking up the Phone

There are a number of different ways to answer the phone in Korean. The standard phrase is 여보세요 (yeoboseyo), though if you’re in a business setting or calling customer service, they’ll answer the phone differently. 

Below, you’ll find a few different phrases that are used to answer a phone call in Korean. 

1) 여보세요 (yeoboseyo

You’ve likely heard this phrase many times already if you watch Korean dramas! 

여보세요 (yeoboseyo), meaning “hello” in English, is the standard Korean phone greeting and is only used over the phone. Keep in mind that there are no “polite” or “casual” ways to answer the phone in Korean; we use this set phrase by default, unless we’re answering the phone in a business context (more on this later). 

The phrase 여보세요 (yeoboseyo) is a combination of several words: 

  • 여기 (yeogi) – “here”
  • 보다 (boda) – “to see”
  • 세요 (seyo) – “~do”

Additional Notes: Another common way to answer the phone is with the elongated sound 네 (ne), meaning “yes.” This greeting is commonly used by elders in Korea. 



여보세요, 누구세요?
(Yeoboseyo, nuguseyo?)
“Hello, who is this?”

2) 무엇을 도와드릴까요? (Mueoseul dowadeurilkkayo?

This phrase means “How may I help you?” in English. It’s commonly used by customer service representatives to start a conversation with the caller. They usually state the name of the company, followed by their name, before saying this phrase. 


A 회사의 김미영입니다. 무엇을 도와드릴까요?
(A hoesaui gimmiyeongimnida. Mueoseul dowadeurilkkayo?)
“This is A company’s Kim Mi-yeong speaking. How may I help you?”

3) 뭐 해? (Mwo hae?

This is a more casual greeting used both on the phone and in 카카오톡 (kakaotok), or “Kakaotalk.” Kakaotalk, commonly referred to as 카톡 (katok) or “KaTalk” in South Korea, is a free mobile instant messaging application (similar to Line, WeChat, etc.). The majority of Koreans use Kakaotalk to send messages and call each other.

There is a casual form and a more polite form of this phrase, both meaning “What are you up to?”

  • Casual: 뭐 해? (Mwo hae?)
  • Polite: 지금 뭐 하세요? (Jigeum mwo haseyo?)

Both versions are commonly used to initiate conversation, but you need to make sure that you and the other person have established rapport before using either one. If you say this to a stranger or someone you don’t know well, you may sound rude or the receiver may misinterpret your intentions.

    → Check out our lesson Calling on Skype to learn more about saying hello over the phone.

A Lady Laying Down on the Carpet while Talking on the Phone with a Friend

2. Saying Who You Are

It’s important to say who you are before jumping into the topic you want to talk about. There are different Korean phone phrases you can use to introduce yourself, so let’s have a look at each one. 

1) [회사이름] 의 [이름]입니다. ([Hoesaileum] ui [ireum]imnida.)

This phrase translates to: “This is [name] of the [company’s name].”

It’s a formal way to introduce yourself over the phone and it’s commonly used in business settings. 

While 여보세요 (yeoboseyo) is the standard phone call greeting in Korea, you should avoid using it in business settings or other formal contexts as it sounds less professional. 

When a receptionist answers the phone, for example, they usually say [회사이름] 의 [이름]입니다. You can reply using the same phrase pattern in order to let them know who you are. 


코리안클래스101의 폴입니다.
(Koreankeullaseu101ui porimnida.)
“This is Paul from KoreanClass101.”

안녕하세요, A사의 앨리스입니다.
(Annyeonghaseyo, A-saui aelliseuimnida.)
“Hello, this is Alice from A company.”

2) 안녕하세요, [이름]입니다. (Annyeonghaseyo, [ireum]imnida.

Another common way to introduce yourself in business settings is: 

  • 안녕하세요, [이름]입니다. (Annyeonghaseyo, [ireum]imnida.) – “Hello, this is [name].”

You may also hear this phrase preceded by the sound 네 (ne):

  • 네, 안녕하세요, [이름] 입니다. (Ne, annyeonghaseyo, [ireum]imnida.)

Which phrase is more polite? There’s no right or wrong answer, so choose the version that feels right to you. 


네, B사의 진입니다.
(Ne, B-saui jinimnida.)
“Hello, this is Jin from B company.”

안녕하세요 진씨. 저는 C사의 연아라고합니다.
(Annyeonghaseyo jinssi. Jeoneun C-saui yeonaragohamnida.)
“Hello Jin. This is Yeona from C company.”

3) 안녕하세요, [회사이름] 의 [이름] 입니다. (Annyeonghaseyo, [hoesaileum]ui [ireum] imnida.)

This phone introduction phrase translates to: “Hello. This is [name] of the [company’s name].” It is the most polite and common way to introduce oneself over the phone in business settings. 

Do you see the pattern?

In business settings, you need to greet, state your company, and give your name. 

Once you know this pattern and get some practice using it, you’ll have no problem introducing yourself in formal contexts! 


A사의 김미영입니다.
(A-saui gimmiyeongimnida.)
“This is Kim Miyeong of A company.”

4) 나야 (naya

The Korean phrase 나야 (naya), meaning “It’s me,” is commonly used among friends. Feel free to use it when the call receiver knows you well, instead of telling him or her who you are.

There are two other versions of this phrase you could also use: 

  • 어 나야 (eo naya) – “Hey, it’s me.”
  • 나 소연 (na soyeon) – “I’m Soyeon.”


A: 여보세요? (Yeoboseyo?) – “Hello?”
B: 어 나야. (Eo naya.) – “Hey, it’s me.”
A: 어 안녕. (Eo annyeong.) – “Oh hey, hello.”
B: 뭐 해? (Mwo hae?) – “What are you up to?”
A: 아무것도 안해. (Amugeotdo anhae.) – “Nothing.”

5) 나 [이름] (na [ireum]

This phrase means “It’s [name],” and it’s frequently used among friends. 


A: 여보세요. (Yeoboseyo?) – “Hello?”
B: 나 소연. (Na soyeon.) – “It’s Soyeon.”

A Person Dialing a Number to Make a Phone Call

3. Stating the Reason for Your Call

A vital step in your Korean phone call conversation is to let the receiver know why you’re calling. Effective communication is key here! 

1) 예약하려고 전화드렸어요. (Yeyaghalyeogo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo.)

If you plan to meet a friend for lunch or have a dinner date coming up, you’ll need to know this phrase! It means: “I am calling to make a reservation.”

In order to reserve a table for lunch or dinner specifically, you would add the appropriate word to the beginning of the phrase. 

For example, to say “I want to make a reservation for lunch,” add the Korean word for “lunch” to the beginning of this phrase:

안녕하세요, A 레스토랑입니다.
(Annyeonghaseyo, A reseutorangimnida.)
“Hello, this is A restaurant.”

안녕하세요, 점심 예약하려고 전화드렸어요.
(Annyeonghaseyo, jeomsim yeyakaryeogo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo.)
“Hello, I am calling to make a reservation for lunch.”

네, 몇분이시죠?
(Ne, myeotbunisijyo?)
“Okay, how many people?”

2) 문의 드릴것이 있어서 전화드렸어요. (Munui deurilgeosi isseoseo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo.) 

Translation: “I am calling because I have an inquiry.”

You can use this phrase if the purpose of your call is to receive an answer to a question or to gain more information about something. 

If you want to make it even more polite or business-like, you could say: 

  • 문의드릴것이 있어서 전화드렸습니다. (Mun-uideulilgeos-i iss-eoseo jeonhwadeulyeossseubnida.)

If you want to say it casually (to a friend, for example), you could say: 

  • 물어볼것이 있어서 전화했어. (Mul-eobolgeos-i iss-eoseo jeonhwahaess-eo.)


콜센터 린입니다. 무엇을 도와드릴까요?
(Kolsenteo linimnida. Mueoseul dowadeurilkkayo?)
“This is Lyn from the call center. How may I help you?”

안녕하세요, 문의드릴것이 있어서 전화드렸어요.
(Annyeonghaseyo, munui deurilgeosi isseoseo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo.)
“Hello, I am calling because I have an inquiry.”

4) 뭐하고 있는지 궁금해서 전화해봤어. (Mwohago inneunji gunggeumhaeseo jeonhwahaebwasseo.) 

This one means: “I called because I am curious what you are doing now.”

You could say this phrase to a friend or to someone you want to get to know better. 



어, 나야.
(Eo, naya.)
“Hey, it’s me.”

어, 무슨일 있어?
(Eo, museunil isseo?)
“Uh, what’s up?”

뭐하고 있는지 궁금해서 전화해봤어.
(Mwohago inneunji gunggeumhaeseo jeonhwahaebwasseo.)
“I called because I am curious what you are doing now.”

5) 안 본지 너무 오래돼서 잘 지내는지 궁금해서 전화해봤어. (An bonji neomu oraedwaeseo jal jinaeneunji gunggeumhaeseo jeonhwahaebwasseo.

This is a casual way to say: “It’s been awhile since we saw each other, so I called to check up on you.” 



어, 나야.
(Eo, naya.)
“Hey, it’s me.”

안본지 너무 오래돼서 잘지내는지 궁금해서 전화해봤어.
(An bonji neomu oraedwaeseo jal jinaeneunji gunggeumhaeseo jeonhwahaebwasseo.)
“It’s been awhile since we saw each other, so I called to check up on you.”

6) 전화했었어? (Jeonhwahaesseosseo?

This is another common Korean phone call phrase, often used to start a conversation. It means: “Did you call?”


A: 여보세요. (Yeoboseyo.) – “Hello.”
B: 어, 나 소연. 전화했었어? (Eo, na soyeon. Jeonhwahaesseosseo?) – “Hey, it’s Soyeon. Did you call?”
A: 아 어, 했었어. (A eo, haesseosseo.) – “Ah, yeah I did.”

A Lady Studying with a Smartphone

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

If you’re calling a home phone or business line (or if someone else answers your friend’s smartphone!), you might need to ask to speak to another individual. Here are some Korean phrases you can use to do this. 

1) [이름] 집에 있습니까? ([Ileum] jibe issseumnikka?

If you’re trying to reach a friend and someone else picks up the phone, you can use this phrase to ask if they can put your friend on the line. This phrase means: “Is [name] home?”


A: 여보세요. (Yeoboseyo.) – “Hello.”
B: 어, 나 소연. (Eo, na soyeon.) – “Hey, it’s Soyeon.”
A: 에이미 집에 있습니까? (Eimi jibe issseumnikka?) – “Is Amy home?”

2) ___씨와 통화할 수 있을까요? (___ssiwa tonghwahal su isseulkkayo?) 

This phrase translates to: “Could I speak to ___, please?”

In business settings, it’s good etiquette to use either 씨 (ssi) or 님 (nim) when asking to speak to someone. Both mean “Mr. / Mrs. / Ms.” but 님 (nim) is considered more polite than 씨 (ssi). If you’re not sure which word to use, pay close attention to your colleagues. Which one do they use? If you notice that they use one instead of the other, then follow their lead. 


코리안클래스101의 폴입니다.
(Koreankeullaeseu101ui porimnida.)
“This is Paul from KoreanClass101.”

안녕하세요, A사의 김미영입니다. 앨리스 씨와 통화할 수 있을까요?
(Annyeonghaseyo, A-saui gimmiyeongimnida. Aelliseu ssiwa tonghwahal su isseulkkayo?)
“Hello, this is Kim Miyeong of A company. Could I speak to Alice, please?”

“I will put you through.”

3) [Family name] [Job title]님 + 자리에 계신가요? ([Family name] [Job title]nim + jarie gyesingayo?

This phrase means: “Is Mr./Ms. [Name] there?”

It’s a common way to ask if someone is available to speak. 


코리안클래스101의 폴입니다.
(Koreankeullaeseu101ui porimnida.)
“This is Paul from KoreanClass101.”

안녕하세요, A회사의 김미영입니다. 앨리스님 자리에 계신가요?
(Annyeonghaseyo, A-saui gimmiyeongimnida. Alliseunim jarie gyesingayo?)
“Hello, this is Kim Miyeong of A company. Is Alice there?”

네, 자리에 계십니다. 지금 바로 연결해드리겠습니다.
(Ne, jarie gyesimndal. Jigeum baro yeongyeolhaedeurigetseumnida.)
“Yes, she is here. I will put you through.”

4) [이름] 지금 집에 있어? ([Ireum] jigeum jibe isseo?

This is a casual way to ask “Is [name] at home?”



나 연아인데, 가연이 지금 집에 있어?
(Na yeonainde, gayeoni jigeum jibe isseo?)
“I’m Yeona, is Gayeon at home?”

5) [이름] 바꿔줄래? ([Ireum] bakkwojullae?) 

This is a casual way to ask “Can you put me through to [name?]” If you want to say it politely, use: 

  • [이름] 바꿔주시겠습니까? (Iireum] bakkwojusigetseumnikka?) – “Can you please put me through to [name]?”


A: 여보세요. (Yeoboseyo.) – “Hello.”
B: 가연이 바꿔줄래? (Gayeoni bakkwojullae?) – “Can you put me through to Gayeon?”

6) [이름] 이랑 통화할 수 있을까? ([Ireum] irang tonghwahal su isseulkka?) 

This is a casual way to ask “Can I speak to [name]?” in Korean. A more polite version is:

  • [이름]씨와 통화할 수 있을까요? ([Ireum] ssiwa tonghwahal su isseulkkayo?) – “Can I please speak to [name]?”


A: 여보세요. (Yeoboseyo.) – “Hello.”
B: 가연이랑 통화할 수 있을까? (Gayeonirang tonghwahal su isseulkka?) – “Can I speak to Gayeon?”

    → Do you want to boost your confidence in speaking business Korean? Then check out our lesson series Business Korean for Beginners to really learn the ropes!

A Lady Working Overtime at the Office, Talking on the Phone

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Especially in business settings, it’s common practice to ask the other person to wait while you connect them or retrieve requested information. Here are a few ways you can do this in Korean: 

1) 잠시만요. (Jamsimanyo.)

This Korean phone call phrase translates to: “Hold on, please.”


A: 앨리스님 자리에 계신가요? (Aelliseunim jarie gyesingayo?) – “Could I speak to Alice, please?”
B: 그럼요. 잠시만요. (Geureomyo. Jamsimanyo.) – “Of course. Hold on, please.”

2) 잠시만 기다려주세요. (Jamsiman gidaryeojuseyo.

This phrase has the same meaning as the one above, but it’s considered more polite. 


A: 앨리스님 자리에 계신가요? (Aelliseunim jarie gyesingayo?) – “Could I speak to Alice, please?”
B: 잠시만 기다려주세요. (Jamsiman gidaryeojuseyo.) – “Hold on, please.”

3) [이름] 씨 연결해 드리겠습니다. ([Ileum] ssi yeongyeolhae deurigetseumnida.)

This phrase means: “I’ll put you through to [name].”

If you ask to speak to someone, the person on the other end of the call may say this phrase to let you know you’re being transferred. You might also hear this phrase used without the name: 

  • 연결해 드리겠습니다. (Yeongyeolhae deurigetseumnida.


A: 연아 씨 지금 자리에 계신가요? (Yeona ssii jigeum jarie gyesingayo?) – “Could I speak to Yeona, please?”
B: 네, 연결해 드리겠습니다. (Ne, yeongyeolhae deurigetseumnida.) – “Yes, I will put you through.”

4) 죄송하지만 ___씨가 잠시 자리를 비웠습니다. (Joesonghajiman ___ssiga jamsi jalireul biwotseumnida.)

This phrase means: “I’m afraid ___ isn’t in at the moment.”

 죄송 (jeosong) means “sorry” and 하지만 (hajiman) means “but.” Together, it means: “I am sorry, but…” 


연아씨 지금 자리에 계신가요?
(Yeona ssii jigeum jarie gyesingayo?)
“Could I speak to Yeona, please?”

죄송하지만 연아씨가 잠시 자리를 비웠습니다.
(Joesonghajiman yeona ssiga jamsi jalireul biwotseumnida.)
“I am afraid Yeona isn’t in at the moment.”

5) 메시지를 남기시겠어요? (Mesijireul namgisigesseoyo?

If the person you wish to speak to is not available, you may be able to leave a message. The receptionist may ask you: 메시지를 남기시겠어요? (Mesijireul namgisigesseoyo?) – “Would you like to leave a message?”

Broken down, 메시지 (meseji) means “message” and 남기다 (namgida) means “to leave.”

You might also be asked: 

  • 성함이랑 전화번호 알려주시겠어요? (Seonghamirang jeonhwabeonho allyeojusigesseoyo?) – “Could you tell me your name and phone number?”


연아씨 지금 자리에 계신가요?
(Yeona ssii jigeum jarie gyesingayo?)
“Could I speak to Yeona, please?”

죄송하지만 연아 씨가 잠시 자리를 비웠습니다. 메시지를 남기시겠어요?
(Joesonghajiman yeona ssiga jamsi jarireul biweotseumnida. Mesijireul namgisigesseoyo?)
“I am afraid Yeona isn’t in at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?”

6) 통화중입니다. (Tonghwajungimnida.) 

This phrase translates to: “He/she is on the phone right now.” 

It’s one of many possible reasons the call receiver might give you for the other party not being available. Here are more reasons you might hear: 

  • 미팅중입니다. (Mitingjungimnida.) – “He/she is in a meeting.”
  • 점심식사중입니다. (Jeomsimsiksajungimnida.) – “He/she is having lunch.” 
  • 지금 자리에 안 계십니다. (Jigeum jarie an gyesimnida.) – “He/she is not in his/her seat right now.” 
  • 외부 미팅중입니다. (Oebu mitingjungimnida.) “He/she is out on a meeting.” 


A: 연아씨 지금 자리에 계신가요? (Yeona ssii jigeum jarie gyesingayo?) – “Could I speak to Yeona, please?”
B: 연아씨 지금 통화중입니다. (Yeona ssii jigeum tonghwajungimnida) – “Yeona is on the phone right now.”

7) 잠깐만. (Jamkkanman.) / 잠만. (Jamman.

잠만 (jamman) is a shortened version of 잠깐만 (jamkkanman), and it’s considered a slang term. Both versions mean “hold on,” and they’re best used among friends rather than in business settings. 


나 집에 열쇠 두고 간 것 같은데 한번 봐줄래?
(Na jibe yeolsoe dugo gan geot gateunde hanbeon bwajullae?)
“I think I left my keys at home. Can you have a look at it for me?”

“Hold on.”

8) 지금 전화 못 받는데. (Jigeum jeonhwa mot batneunde.)

This is a casual phrase often used among friends. It means: “I can’t talk on the phone right now.”


여보세요, 지금 전화가능?
(Yeoboseyo, jigeum jeonhwaganeung?)
“Hello, are you available for a call?”

미안, 지금 샤워중이라 전화 못 받는데.
(Mian, jigeum syawojungira jeonhwa mot batneunde.)
“I am sorry, I’m taking a shower so I can’t talk right now.”

A Man Talking on the Phone Inside the Bus

6. Leaving a Message

If you’ve made an urgent phone call only to find out the person you need to speak to is unavailable, you can ask to leave a message. Here are three Korean phone phrases you could use: 

1) 전화했었다고 전해주실래요? (Jeonhwahaesseotdago jeonhaejusillaeyo?)

Translation: “Could you please tell him/her that I called?”


죄송하지만 연아씨가 잠시 자리를 비웠습니다. 메시지를 남기시겠어요?
(Joesonghajiman yeona ssiga jamsi jarireul biweotseumnida. Mesijireul namgisigesseoyo?)
“I am afraid Yeona isn’t in at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?”

알겠습니다. 그럼 전화했었다고 전해주실래요?
(Algetseumnida. Geureom keonhwahaesseotdago jeonhaejusillaeyo?)
“Okay. Could you please tell him/her that I called?”

2) 나중에 다시 전화하겠습니다. (Najunge dasi jeonhwahagetseumnida.)

Translation: “I’ll call again later.”


죄송하지만 연아씨가 잠시 자리를 비웠습니다. 메시지를 남기시겠어요?
(Joesonghajiman yeona ssiga jamsi jarireul biweotseumnida. Mesijireul namgisigesseoyo?)
“I am afraid Yeona isn’t in at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?”

괜찮습니다. 나중에 다시 전화하겠습니다.
(Gwaenchanseumnida. Najunge dasi jeonhwahagetseumnida.)
“Fine. I’ll call again later.”

3) 메시지 남겨주시겠습니까? (Mesijireul namgyeojusigetseumnikka?)

Translation: “Could you leave a message?”


A: 메시지 남겨주시겠습니까? (Mesijireul namgyeojusigetseumnikka?) – “Could you leave a message?”
B: 전화번호가 어떻게 되시죠? (Jeonhwabeonhoga eotteoke doesijyo?) – “What’s your number?”

A Lady with Headphones Listening to a Korean Song

7. Asking for Clarification

As a non-native speaker making a phone call in the Korean language, you might have difficulty understanding what the other person is saying. This problem could become exacerbated if there’s bad reception in your area. Here are a few phrases you could use to ask for clarification when needed: 

1) 좀 더 크게 말씀해 주시겠어요? (Jom deo keuge malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?

This phrase translates to: “Could you speak up a bit more, please?”

Let’s break it down: 

  • 좀 더 (jom deo) – “a bit more”
  • 크게 (keuge) – “louder”
  • 말씀해 주시겠어요 (malsseumhaejusigesseoyo) – “speak please”

This is a polite/business way to ask someone to speak louder.


진호 씨, 죄송하지만 좀 더 크게 말씀해 주시겠어요?
(Jinho ssi, joesonghajiman jom deo keuge malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?)
“Mr. Jinho, I am sorry but could you speak up a bit more, please?”

리나 씨, 목소리가 잘 안 들려요. 좀 더 크게 말씀해 주시겠어요?
(Rina ssi, moksoriga jal an deullyeoyo. Jom deo keuge malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?)
“Ms. Rina, I can barely hear you. Could you speak up a bit more, please?”

2) 다시 말씀해 주시겠어요? (Dasi malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?)

This one means: “Could you repeat that, please?” A common variation is: 

  • 다시한번만 말씀해주시겠어요? (Dasihanbeonman malsseumhaejusigess-eoyo?) – “Could you say that again, please?”


목소리가 잘 안들렸어요. 다시 말씀해 주시겠어요?
(Moksoriga jal andeullyeosseoyo. Dasi malsseum hae jusigesseoyo?)
“I could not hear you. Could you repeat that, please?”

3) 잘 안들리는데 다시 말씀해 주시겠어요? (Jal andeullineunde dasi malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?

This one translates to: “I’m having a hard time hearing you, can you say that again please?”

We use this phrase to let the person know that we cannot hear his or her voice, and that we’d like them to repeat what they just said. 


죄송해요. 잘 안들리는데 다시 말씀해 주시겠어요?
(Joesonghaeyo. Jal andeullineunde dasi malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?)
“Sorry, I’m having a hard time hearing you, can you say that again please?”

4) 전화 상태가 너무 안좋은데요. (Jeonhwa sangtaega neomu anjoeundeyo.)

If you’re struggling to hear due to a bad connection, you can use this phrase to let the other person know. The phrase means: “The connection is not good.”

Breaking it down:

  • 전화 상태 (jeonhwa sangtae) – “connection”
  • 너무 (neomu) – “too” 
  • 안 좋은데요 (an joeundeyo) – “is not good”


여보세요, 전화 상태가 너무 안좋은데요. 다시 걸어보겠습니다.
(Yeoboseyo, jeonhwa sangtaega neomu anjoeundeyo. Dasi georeobogetseumnida.)
“Hello, the connection is not good. I will try to call you again.”

전화상태가 너무 안좋은데요. 제 목소리 들리시나요?
(Jeonhwa sangtaega neomu anjoeundeyo. Je moksori deullisinayo?)
“The connection is not good. Can you hear my voice?”

여보세요? 전화상태가 너무 안좋은데요. 여보세요?
(Yeoboseyo? Jeonhwa sangtaega neomu anjoeundeyo. Yeoboseyo?)
“Hello? The connection is not good. Hello?”

5) 들리시나요? (Deullisinayo?

This phrase means: “Can you hear me?”

You could say this phrase if you can barely hear the other person over the phone. Alternatively, you could repeat “hello” twice to indicate that the connection is not stable: 

  • 여보세요? 여보세요? (Yeoboseyo? Yeoboseyo?)

Another option is the phrase: 

  • 제 목소리 들리시나요? (Je mogsoli deullisinayo?) – “Can you hear my voice?” 


여보세요? 여보세요?
(Yeoboseyo? Yeoboseyo?)
“Hello? Hello?”

네, 여보세요. 제 목소리 들리시나요?
(Ne, yeoboseyo. Je moksori deullisinayo?)
“Yes, hello. Can you hear my voice?”

아 네, 이제 들려요.
(A ne, ije deullyeoyo.)
“Yes, I can hear you now.”

6) 뭐라고? (Mworago?

This phrase means “What?” and it’s used among friends. 


  • 여보세요? 뭐라고? (Yeoboseyo? Mworago?) – “Hello? What?” 

7) 잘 안들려. (Jal andeullyeo.

This phrase means “I can’t hear you,” and it’s used among friends. If you want to say it more politely, it would be: 

  • 잘 안들려요. (Jal andeullyeo.) / 잘 안들립니다. (Jal andeullimnida.)


여보세요? 야 잘 안들려. (Yeoboseyo? Ya, jal andeullyeo.) – “Hello? I can’t hear you.”

뭐라고? 잘안들려. (Mworago? Jal andeullyeo.) – “What did you say? I can’t hear you.”

8) 다시 한번 말해줄래? (Dasi hanbeon malhaejullae?

This phrase means “Can you say it again?” and it’s used among friends only. 


미안, 다시한번 말해줄래?
Mian, dasi hanbeon malhaejullae?
“Sorry, can you say that again?”

미안, 다시 한번만 말해줄래?
Mian, dasi hanbeonman malhaejullae?
“Sorry, can you say that again?”

잘 안들렸어. 다시한번 말해줄래?
Jal andeullyeosseo. Dasi hanbeon malhaejullae?
“I couldn’t hear you. Can you say that again?”

    →Do you want to know Korea’s country code and other interesting information about Korean telephone numbers? Check out this Wikipedia page on telephone numbers in South Korea.

A Staff Member Scanning a Barcode from a Man’s Phone Screen

8. Sample Phone Conversations 

Now that we’ve gone through different Korean phone call phrases, let’s have a look at a couple of sample conversations. One scenario uses only informal language and the other uses formal language. 

1) Informal Phone Conversation 

Scenario: Two friends (Yeongung and Hyunna) are setting up a time to meet for brunch on a weekend.


어. 영웅. 전화했었어?
(Eo, Yeongung. Jeonhwahaesseoseo?)
“Hey Yeongung. Did you call?”

응. 안본지 오래됐는데 같이 점심이라도 먹을까?
(Eung. Anbonji oraedwaetneunde gachi jeomsimirado meogeulkka?)
“It’s been awhile since we’ve met. Do you want to have lunch with me?”

응 좋아. 어디로 갈까?
(Eung joa. Eodiro galkka?)
“Yes, sounds good. Where should we go?”

괜찮은곳 알아. 이번 주 금요일 한 시 어때?
(Gwaenchaneungot ara. IIbeon ju geumyoil han si eottae?)
“I know a good place. How about Friday at one o’clock?”

응 좋아.
(Eung joa.)
“Yeah, sounds good.”

알았어. 그럼 예약 잡고 장소 카톡으로 보낼께.
(Arasseo. Geureom yeyak japgo jangso katogeuro bonaelkke.)
“Okay. I will make a reservation and send a message to you on Kakaotalk.”

어어 알았어. 고마워!
(Eoeo arasseo. Gomawo!)
“Okay. Thanks!”

2) Formal Phone Conversation

Scenario: After they’ve set the time and place, Yeongung calls the restaurant to reserve a table. 

A 레스토랑입니다.
(A reseutorangimnida.)
“This is A restaurant.”

여보세요, 점심 예약하려고 전화드렸어요.
(Yeoboseyo, jeomsim yeyakaryeogo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo.)
“Hello, I am calling to make a reservation for lunch.”

네, 언제로 잡아드릴까요?
(Ne, eonjero jabadeurilkkayo?)
“Okay. When would you like to come?”

이번 주 금요일 한 시요.
(Ibeon ju geumyoil han siyo.)
“This Friday at one p.m., please.”

몇 분이세요?
(Myeot buniseyo?)
“How many people?”

두 명입니다.
(Du myeongimnida.)
“Two people.”

성함은 어떻게 되세요?
(Seonghameun eotteoke doeseyo?)
“Can I have your name, please?”

“It’s Kim Yeongung.”

네 알겠습니다. 이번주 금요일 한 시 김영웅 씨 이름으로 테이블 예약해드리겠습니다.
(Ne algetseumnida. Ibeonju geumyoil han si gimyeongung ssi ireumeuro teibeul yeyakaedeurigetseumnida.)
“Okay. I reserved a table for this Friday at one p.m. under the name of Kim Yeongung.”

네 알겠습니다. 감사합니다.
(Ne algetseumnida. Gamsahamnida.)
“Okay. Thank you.”

그때 봐.
(Geuttae bwa.)
“See you then.”

A Lady Working with a Laptop

9. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You Master the Korean Language

Once you memorize these useful Korean phone call phrases and learn how to use them, you’ll be able to confidently speak on the phone in both formal and informal settings. 

Want to learn more about Korean culture and business etiquette? Or maybe you’d like to study even more practical everyday Korean phrases? Then you should definitely check out KoreanClass101! We provide a range of free learning resources, including vocabulary lists and audio/video lessons. It’s our goal to make learning Korean fun and to infuse each lesson with useful information on Korean culture. 

Create your free lifetime account today and advance your Korean language skills with us!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean

Master Korean Words for Beginners with KoreanClass101!


If you’ve just started learning Korean, it’s vital for your success that you begin by building a solid vocabulary base. This means studying the most frequently used words in a variety of categories—and eventually learning how to form simple sentences with them! 

But, remember: Baby steps. 

Today, you’ll just be learning some basic Korean words for beginners that you’ll need in order to hold conversations with native speakers. 

Let’s go!

List of Pronouns in English
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You Learn Korean

1. Pronouns

The first words you should add to your Korean vocabulary are pronouns. These are the words that we use to refer to ourselves, the people around us, and even animals or objects, without saying the actual name of what we’re referring to. Let’s take a look: 

1) Personal Pronouns

저희jeohui“we” / “us”
우리uri“we” / “us”
그녀들geunyeodeul“they” (females)

2) Demonstrative Pronouns

There are three main demonstrative pronouns that you need to know: 

  • 이것 (igeot) – “this” is used when the object is near the speaker.
  • 그것 (geugeot) – “that” is used when the object is near the listener.
  • 저것 (jeogeot) – “over there” is used when the object is far from both the speaker and the listener.


  • 여기에 있어요? (Yeogie isseoyo?) – “Is it here?!”
  • 아니요. 거기에 없습니다. 저기에 있습니다. (Aniyo. Geogie eopseumnida. Jeogie itseumnida.) – “No. It’s not there. It’s over there.”

Practice makes perfect! Check out these pages to learn more demonstrative pronouns: 

Five Even Numbers in Blue Balls

2. Numbers

Another set of simple Korean words to practice as a beginner are numbers. Once you have the basics down, you’ll be well on your way to counting, discussing prices, and more! 

Numbers 1-10

There are two ways to count in Korean:

  1. Sino Korean: Used for dates, money, addresses, phone numbers, etc.
  2. Native Korean: Used for number of items and age 

Let’s take a look at Sino and Native Korean for the numbers 1-10. 

  • 일 (il) / 하나 (hana) – “One”
  • 이 (i) /둘 (dul) – “Two”
  • 삼 (sam) / 셋 (set) – “Three”
  • 사 (sa) / 넷 (net) – “Four”
  • 오 (o) / 다섯 (daseot) – “Five”
  • 육 (yuk) / 여섯 (yeoseot) – “Six”
  • 칠 (chil) / 일곱 (ilgop) – “Seven”
  • 팔 (pal) / 여덟 (yeodeol) – “Eight”
  • 구 (gu) / 아홉 (ahop) – “Nine”
  • 십 (sip) / 열 (yeol) – “Ten”


  • 몇 살이에요? (Myeot sarieyo?) – “How old are you?”
    아홉 살이에요. (Ahop sarieyo.) – “I’m nine years old.” (O)
    구살이에요. (Gusarieyo.) – “I’m nine years old.” (X)
  • 이거 얼마예요? (Igeo eolmayeyo?) – “How much is this?”
    삼천원이에요. (Samcheonwonieyo.) – “It’s 3,000 won.” (O)
    셋천원이에요. (Setcheonwonieyo.) – “It’s 3,000 won.” (X)

Check out Counting Part I: Sino-Korean Numbers, Counting Part II: Pure-Korean Numbers, and Numbers on to practice your counting skills! 

3. Nouns 

Nouns are perhaps the most important part of speech when it comes to getting an idea across. They’re used to identify people, places, things, and even ideas. When used with verbs, they form a complete thought—in a pinch, they can even be used by themselves most of the time! Below are the most essential Korean beginner words in this category. 

1) People and Occupations

Family members

  • 장남 (jangnam) – “oldest son”
  • 첫째아들 (cheotjjaeadeul) – “oldest son”
  • 장녀 (jangnyeo) – “oldest daughter”
  • 첫째 딸 (cheotjjae ttal) – “oldest daughter”
  • 둘째 아들 (duljjae adeul) – “second son”
  • 둘째 딸 (duljjae ttal) – “second daughter”
  • 막내 아들 (mangnae adeul) – “youngest son”
  • 막내 딸 (mangnae ttal) – “youngest daughter”
  • 외아들 (oeadeul) – “only child” (male)
  • 외동딸 (oedongttal) – “only child” (female)
  • 형제 (hyeongje) – “brothers”
  • 자매 (jamae) – “sisters”
  • 언니 (eonni) – “older sister” (of a female sibling)
  • 누나 (nuna) – “older sister” (of a male sibling)
  • 여동생 (yeodongsaeng) – “younger sister”
  • 오빠 (oppa) – “older brother” (of a female sibling)
  • 형 (hyeong) – “older brother” (of a male sibling)
  • 남동생 (namdongsaeng) – “younger brother”
  • 쌍둥이 (ssangdungi) – “twins”

You can also check out Describe Your Family in Korean: “Brother” in Korean and More and Must-Know Terms for Family Members to learn more family-related vocabulary and gain insight into Korean family culture.


  • 농부 (nongbu) – “farmer”
  • 시인 (siin) – “poet”
  • 약사 (yaksa) – “pharmacist”
  • 배관공 (baegwangong) – “plumber”
  • 프로 포커 선수 (peuro pokeo seonsu) – “professional poker player”
  • 변호사 (byeonhosa) – “lawyer”
  • 영업 사원 (yeongeop) – “salesperson”
  • 사무원 (samuwon) – “clerk”
  • 엔지니어 (enjinieo) – “engineer”
  • 미용사 (miyongsa) – “beautician”
  • 디자이너 (dijaineo) “designer”
  • 정원사 (jeongwonsa) – “gardener”
  • 영상 제작자 (yeongsang jejakja) – “audio visual producer”
  • 무대 감독 (mudae gamdok) – “stage director”
  • 음악 기획자 (eumak gihoekja) – “music promoter”

We also have a vocabulary list with example sentences titled 20 Common Words for Occupations. Make sure to check it out if you’d like to learn even more occupation names along with their pronunciation. 

Santiago de Compostela in Spain

2) Places Around Town

  • 도서관 (doseogwan) – “library”
  • 서점 (seojeom) – “bookstore”
  • 식당 (sikdang) – “restaurant”
  • 꽃가게 (kkotgage) – “flower shop”
  • 병원 (byeongwon) – “hospital”
  • 학교 (hakgyo) – “school”
  • 백화점 (baekhwajeom) – “department store”
  • 커피숍 (keopisyop) – “coffee shop”
  • 공항 (gonghang) – “airport”
  • 지하철역 (jihacheolyeok) – “subway station”
  • 호텔 (hotel) – “hotel”
  • 시내 (sinae) – “downtown”
  • 바다 (bada) – “beach”
  • 우체국 (ucheguk) – “post office”
  • 은행 (eunhaeng) – “bank”
  • 소방서 (sobangseo) – “fire station”
  • 경찰서 (gyeongchalseo) – “police station”
  • 약국 (yakguk) – “pharmacy”
  • 제과점 (jegwajeom) – “bakery”
  • 슈퍼마켓 (syupeomakes) – “supermarket”
  • 주유소 (juyuso) – “gas station”
  • 방송국 (bangsongguk) – “broadcasting station”

3) School/Office Essentials

  • 펜 (pen) – “pen”
  • 공책 (gongchaek) – “notebook”
  • 연필 (yeonpil) – “pencil”
  • 숙제 (sukje) – “homework”
  • 시험 (siheom) – “exam”
  • 수학 (suhak) – “math”
  • 대학교 (daehakgyo) – “university”
  • 배낭 (baenang) – “backpack”
  • 과학 (gwahak) – “science”
  • 컴퓨터 (keompyuteo) – “computer”
  • 노트북 (noteubuk) – “laptop”
  • 아이폰 (aipon) – “iPhone”

Check out our vocabulary list School Subjects to learn more useful school-related words in Korean.

4) Body Parts

  • 발 (bal) – “foot”
  • 발목 (balmok) – “ankle”
  • 다리 (dari) – “leg”
  • 머리 (meori) – “head”
  • 목 (mok) – “neck”
  • 팔 (pal) – “arm”
  • 팔꿈치 (palkkumchi) – “elbow”
  • 손목 (sonmok) – “wrist”
  • 손 (son) – “hand”
  • 손가락 (songgarak) – “finger”
  • 근육 (geunyuk) – “muscle”
  • 뼈 (ppyeo) – “bone”
  • 척추 (cheokchu) – “backbone”
  • 몸 (mom) – “body”
  • 배 (bae) – “stomach”
  • 무릎 (mureup) – “knee”
  • 피부 (pibu) – “skin”
  • 혈액 (hyeoraek) – “blood”
  • 등 (deung) – “back”
  • 가슴 (gaseum) – “chest”

Want to learn more words for body parts? Check out our free list titled Your Face

5) Food

Korean Food

  • 된장찌개 (doenjangjjigae) – “doenjang jjigae”
  • 떡볶이 (tteokbokki) – “tteokbokki”
  • 김치 (gimchi) – “kimchi”
  • 김치볶음밥 (gimchibokkeumbap) – “kimchi fried rice”
  • 순두부찌개 (sundubujjigae) – “raw bean curd stew”
  • 김치찌개 (gimchijjigae) – “kimchi stew”
  • 부대찌개 (budaejjigae) – “army base stew”
  • 라면 (ramyeon) – “ramen”
  • 냉면 (naengmyeon) – “cold noodle soup”

Fruits and Vegetables

  • 과일 (gwail) – “fruit”
  • 바나나 (banana) – “banana”
  • 사과 (sagwa) – “apple”
  • 야채 (yachae) – “vegetable”
  • 양상추 (yangsangchu) – “lettuce”
  • 토마토 (tomato) – “tomato”
  • 감자 (gamja) – “potato”
  • 당근 (danggeun) – “carrot”
  • 양파 (yangpa) – “onion”
  • 수박 (subak) – “watermelon”
  • 파인애플 (painaepeul) – “pineapple”
  • 메론 (meron) – “melon”
  • 콩 (kong) – “soybean”
  • 살구 (salgu) – “apricot”
  • 옥수수 (oksusu) – “corn”
  • 고구마 (goguma) – “sweet potato”
  • 땅콩 (ttangkong) – “peanut”
  • 순무 (sunmu) – “turnip”
  • 버섯 (beoseot) – “mushroom”
  • 자몽 (jamong) – “grapefruit”
  • 포도 (podo) – “grape”
  • 캐슈넛 (kaesyuneot)  – “cashew nut”
  • 견과 (gyeongwa) – “nut”

An Image of the Word Verb

4. Verbs

Verbs describe actions or states of being, and they help to form a complete thought when used with nouns. To give you a huge vocabulary boost, here are the most common Korean verbs:

  • 오다 (oda) – “to come”
  • 마시다 (masida) – “to drink”
  • 먹다 (meokda) – “to eat”
  • 주다 (juda) – “to give”
  • 가다 (gada) – “to go”
  • 듣다 (deutda) – “to hear”
  • 배우다 (baewuda) – “to learn”
  • 만들다 (mandeulda) – “to make”
  • 앉다 (anta) – “to sit”
  • 자다 (jada) – “to sleep”
  • 찍다 (jjigda) – “to take (a picture)”
  • 쓰다 (sseuda) – “to wear (e.g. eyewear)”
  • 신다 (sinta) – “to wear (e.g. shoes)”
  • 빌리다 (billida) – “to borrow” / “to lend”
  • 전화하다 (jeonhwahada) – “to call someone”
  • 말하다 (malhada) – “to talk”
  • 섞다 (seokta) – “to mix”
  • 굽다 (gupda) – “to grill”
  • 가르치다 (gareuchida) – “to teach”
  • 기다리다 (gidarida) – “to wait”
  • 알다 (alda) – “to know”
  • 모르다 (moreuda) – “to not know”
  • 요리하다 (yorihada) – “to cook”
  • 끓이다 (kkeurida) – “to boil”
  • 걸다 (geolda) – “to call” / “to dial”
  • 청소하다 (cheongsohada) – “to clean”
  • 닫다 (datda) – “to close”
  • 일하다 (ilhada) – “to work”
  • 쉬다 (swida) – “to rest”
  • 운동하다 (undonghada) – “to exercise”
  • 생각하다 (saenggakada) – “to think”
  • 썰다 (sseolda) – “to slice”
  • 튀기다 (twigida) – “to fry”
  • 재다 (jaeda) – “to measure”
  • 볶다 (bokda) – “to fry”
  • 찌다 (jjida) – “to steam”
  • 묻다 (mutda) – “to ask”
  • 내다 (naeda) – “to pay”
  • 결혼하다 (gyeolhonhada) – “to marry”
  • 없다 (eopda) – “to not have”
  • 살다 (salda) – “to live”
  • 죽다 (jukda) – “to die”
  • 찾다 (chatda) – “to find”
  • 꿈꾸다 (kkumkkuda) – “to dream”
  • 좋아하다 (joahada) – “to like”
  • 걱정하다 (geokjeonghada) – “to worry”
  • 약속하다 (yaksokada) – “to promise”
  • 휘젓다 (hwijeotda) – “to stir”
  • 하다 (hada) – “to do”
  • 있다 (itda) – “to have”
  • 거짓말하다 (geojinmalhada) – “to lie”
  • 가지다 (gajida) – “to have”
  • 기억하다 (gieokada) – “to remember”
  • 고백하다 (gobaekada) – “to confess”
  • 죄송하다 (joesonghada) – “to be sorry”
  • 시작하다 (sijakada) – “to start”
  • 싫어하다 (silreohada) – “to hate”
  • 이야기하다 (iyagihada) – “to talk”
  • 연습하다 (yeonseupada) – “to practice”
  • 준비하다 (junbihada) – “to prepare”
  • 태어나다 (taeeonada) – “to be born”
  • 서두르다 (seodureuda) – “to hurry”
  • 사랑하다 (saranghada) – “to love”
  • 축하하다 (chukahada) – “to congratulate”
  • 끝나다 (kkeunnada) – “to finish”
  • 보내다 (bonaeda) – “to send”
  • 사용하다 (sayonghada) – “to use”
  • 팔다 (palda) – “to sell”
  • 싸우다 (ssauda) – “to fight”

The more Korean verbs you learn, the better you’ll be at holding conversations with locals. Check out Top 100 Important Korean Verbs for Beginners and Basic Korean Verb & Adjective Conjugation: Rules & Tips to expand your language skills!

5. Adjectives

Adjectives are used to describe nouns. They can add spice to your conversations and flair to your writing. Learning the basic Korean words below will give you more room for creative expression and help you get your point across! 

  • 화나다 (hwanada) – “angry”
  • 짜증나다 (jjajeungnada) – “annoyed”
  • 나쁘다 (nappeuda) – “bad”
  • 아름답다 (areumdapda) – “beautiful”
  • 크다 (keuda) – “big”
  • 쓰다 (sseuda) – “bitter”
  • 심심하다 (simsimhada) – “bored”
  • 지루하다 (jiruhada) – “boring”
  • 씩씩하다 (ssikssikada) – “brave”
  • 싸다 (ssada) – “cheap”
  • 싸늘하다 (ssaneulhada) – “chilly”
  • 통통하다 (tongtonghada) – “chubby”
  • 깨끗하다 (kkaekkeutada) – “clean”
  • 흐리다 (heurida) – “cloudy”
  • 춥다 (chupda) – “cold”
  • 차갑다 (chagapda) – “cold”
  • 편하다 (pyeonhada) – “comfortable”
  • 편리하다 (pyeonrihada) – “convenient”
  • 시원하다 (siwonhada) – “refreshing”
  • 귀엽다 (gwiyeopda) – “cute”
  • 축축하다 (chukchukada) – “wet”
  • 습하다 (seupada) – “damp”
  • 맛있다 (masitda) – “delicious”
  • 다르다 (dareuda) – “different”
  • 어렵다 (eoryeopda) – “difficult”
  • 더럽다 (deoreopda) – “dirty”
  • 건조하다 (geonjohada) – “dry”
  • 이르다 (ireuda) – “early”
  • 쉽다 (swipda) – “easy”
  • 당황하다 (danghwanghada) – “embarrassed”
  • 비어 있다 (bieoitda) – “empty”
  • 비싸다 (bissada) – “expensive”
  • 빠르다 (ppareuda) – “fast”
  • 뚱뚱하다 (ttungttunghada) – “fat”
  • 기름지다 (gireumjida) – “fatty”
  • 적다 (jeokda) – “few”
  • 신선하다 (sinseonhada) – “fresh”
  • 가득하다 (gadeukada) – “full”
  • 기쁘다 (gippeuda) – “glad”
  • 잘생기다 (jalsaengida) – “handsome”
  • 착하다 (chakada) – “good-natured”
  • 좋다 (jota) – “good”
  • 행복하다 (haengbokada) – “happy”
  • 딱딱하다 (ttakttakada) – “hard”
  • 건강하다 (geonganghada) – “healthy”
  • 높다 (nopda) – “high”
  • 뜨겁다 (tteugeopda) – “hot”
  • 덥다 (deopda) – “hot (weather)”
  • 불편하다 (bulpyeonhada) – “inconvenient”
  • 재미있다 (jaemiissda) – “interesting”
  • 복잡하다 (bokjapada) – “crowded”
  • 늦다 (neutda) – “late”
  • 적다 (jeokda) – “less”
  • 많다 (manta) – “many”

Two Hands Connecting Two Puzzle Pieces

6. Conjunctions

  • 그리고 (geurigo) – “and” / “and then”
  • 그래서 (geuraeseo) – “so” / “so that”
  • 그렇지만 (geureochiman) – “but” / “however” (to express disappointment)
  • 그런데 (geureonde) – “but” / “however”
  • 그러면 (geureomyeon) – “then” / “in this case” / “if it’s so”
  • 아니면 (animyeon) – “or”
  • 때문에 (ddaemune) – “because of”
  • 만약 (manyak) – “if”
  • 그래도 (geuraedo) – “even if”

Want to learn more about conjunctions? Check out the lesson Korean Conjunctions: Add Seaweed, and Meat, and Garlic on our website and visit this Wikibooks page as well. 

7. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You Learn Korean

Today, you’ve learned more than 200 of the most useful basic Korean words for beginners, from pronouns to conjunctions. It takes time to memorize each word and understand when it’s used, but if you study every day, you’ll eventually start to sound like a native speaker.

KoreanClass101 has plenty of free resources designed to help you learn even more Korean—from beginner lessons to advanced content—as well as tools you can use to practice. For example, our free vocabulary lists are a great way to learn new words and practice your pronunciation. 

Good luck with your Korean studies and feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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The Top 10 Most Common Korean Filler Words


Filler words are small words or sounds that are used for a variety of purposes in spoken language. Common uses include indicating a pause in speech, keeping the speaker’s thoughts structured, and adding emphasis to something being said. While these words have no real meaning of their own, they’re an important part of any language—including Korean!

Learning the most common Korean filler words will help you sound more like a native speaker and give you the ability to end a conversation without an awkward silence. 

In this article, you’ll learn 10 essential Korean filler words and their variations as well as examples of how to use each one.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. 음 (eum) / 어 (eo)
  2. 있잖아 (itjana)
  3. 세상에 (sesange)
  4. 말하자면 (malhajamyeon)
  5. 아무튼 (amuteun)
  6. 우와 (uwa)
  7. 에이 (ei)
  8. 뭐? (Mwo?) / 뭐라고? (Mworago?) / 네? (Ne?)
  9. 진짜 (jinjja) / 정말 (jeongmal)
  10. 아이고! (Aigo!) / 어머나! (Eomeona!) / 어머! (Eomeo!) / 어우씨 (Eoussi)
  11. Pros and Cons of Using Korean Filler Words
  12. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You with Your Korean Studies

1. 음 (eum) / 어 (eo)

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning

This filler sound is one of the most common Korean words you’ll hear when talking with locals, particularly in informal settings. Just like its English equivalent, you can use it to mark a pause while you think of what to say next.
  • 음… 무슨 말을 해야할 지 모르겠어. 
    Eum… museun mareul haeyahal ji moreugesseo.
    “Um… I don’t know what to say.” 

  • 바나나케이크랑, 음…치즈케이크 하나 씩 주세요. Bananakeikeulang, eum…chijeukeikeu hana ssik juseyo.
    “One banana cake, umm…and a Chinese cake please.”

  • 음.. 글쎄요, 잘 모르겠어요. 
    Eum.. geulsseyo, jal moreugesseoyo.
    “Um… Well, I don’t really know.”

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning

This is another common filler sound, used in both informal and formal settings. This Korean filler word has the exact same meaning as the previous one and is used in the same way. 
  • 어… 글쎄요, 무슨 뜻인지 잘 모르겠는데요. 
    Eo… geulsseyo, museun tteusinji jal moreugetneundeyo.
    “Uh… Well, I don’t understand the meaning.”

  • 그래요? 그럼, 어… 이쪽으로 갈까요?
    Geuraeyo? Geureom, eo… ijjogeuro galkkayo?
    “Really? Then, uh…let’s go this way?”

  • 블랙 커피랑 카페 모카랑 뭐 마시지? 어… 커피 마셔야겠다. 
    Beullaek keopilang kape mokarang mwo masiji? eo… keopi masyeoyagetda.
    “Should I drink black coffee or a cafe mocha? Uh… I will drink coffee.”

2. 있잖아 (itjana) 

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
있잖아itjana“you know what”

You can use 있잖아 (itjana) when you want to attract someone’s attention and start a conversation, especially if you want to talk with them about something personal or discuss something in secret. 
  • 있잖아, 그 소문 들었어? 
    Itjana, geu somun deureosseo?
    “You know what, did you hear about the rumor?”

  • 있잖아, 나랑 같이 어디갈래?
    Itjana, narang gachi eodigallae?
    “You know what, do you want to go somewhere with me?”

#2-1 [Alternative] – 참 (cham) 

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
참!Cham!“Oh, I just remembered!” 

This is another way to gain someone’s attention. You can use this filler word anytime you remember something important and want to say something about it.  
  • 참! 너 우유 사왔어? 
    Cham! Neo uyu sawasseo?
    Oh, I just remembered! Did you buy milk?”

  • 참! 나 집에 노트북 깜빡하고 안 가져왔어. 
    Cham! Na jibe noteubuk kkamppakago an gajyeowasseo.
    “Oh, I just remembered! I left my laptop at home and forgot to bring it with me.”

Four Popular Filler Words Used Worldwide

3. 세상에 (sesange

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
세상에sesange“oh my god”

This one is most often used by women, but it’s becoming less popular over time. Another way women can say this is: 어머 (eomeo).
  • 세상에! 정말?
    Sesange! Jeongmal?
    “Oh my god! Really?”

  • 세상에! 그런일이 있었구나, 몰랐어. 
    Sesange! Geureoniri isseotguna, mollasseo.
    “Oh my god! I did not know it happened.”

#3-1 [Alternative] – 오마이갓 (ohmaigat) 

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
오마이갓omaigat“oh my god”

This is the English phrase “oh my god” pronounced in Korean. If someone uses a strong Korean accent when saying this phrase, they’re emphasizing the situation in a humorous way. 
  • 오마이갓! 뭐하는거야? ㅋㅋㅋ
    Omaigat! Mwohaneungeoya? kkk
    “Oh my god! What are you doing? lol”

  • 오마이갓! 진심으로 하는 소리야? ㅋㅋㅋ
    Omaigat! Jinsimeuro haneun soriya? kkk
    “Oh my god! Are you serious? lol”

4. 말하자면 (malhajamyeon

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
말하자면malhajamyeon“in short”

You can use 말하자면 (malhajamyeon) to quickly summarize what you want to say, especially when you’re running out of time. 
  • 시간 없어. 짧게 말하자면…
    Sigan eopseo. Jjalge malhajamyeon…
    “I don’t have time. In short…”

  • 그러니까 말하자면… 
    Geureonikka malhajamyeon…
    “So in short…”

Two Korean Women in Hanbok

5. 아무튼 (amuteun

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning

아무튼 (amuteun) is one of the most frequently used filler words in Korean, and it’s used to change the topic just like the word “anyway” does in English. 
  • 아무튼, 초대해줘서 고마워요.
    Amuteun, chodaehaejwoseo gomawoyo.
    “Thank you for inviting us anyway.”

  • 아무튼 지금은 가 봐야 해. 나중에 보자.
    Amuteun jigeumeun ga bwaya hae. Najunge boja.
    “Anyway, I have to go now. See you later.”
Check out our lesson I Do Like You But… on to learn another way of changing the topic in Korean!

#5-1 [Alternative] – 어쨌든 (eojjetdeun) 

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning

어쨌든 (eojjaetdeun) has the same meaning as 아무튼 (amuteun). 
  • 어쨌든 그렇게 하겠습니다. 
    Eojjaetdeun geureoke hagetseumnida.
    “I will do that, anyway.”

  • 어쨌든 고마워요.
    Eojjaetdeun gomawoyo.
    “Thank you anyway.”
See our lesson I Was Going To Do It Anyway to learn when to use “anyway” in Korean!

6. 우와 (uwa

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning

우와 (uwa) means “wow” in English and is used exactly the same way. 
  • 우와! 너 벌써 구독자가 500만 명이네!
    Uwa! Neo beolsseo gudokjaga obaekman myeongine!
    “Wow! You already have 5 million subscribers.”

  • 우와! 대단한데!
    Uwa! Daedanhande!
    “Wow! That’s totally awesome!”
In our lesson Surprises in Korean: Wow! I Love Surprises, Too! you can learn more about how to express enthusiasm or excitement in Korean.

7. 에이 (ei

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
에이Ei“come on”

에이 (ei) is equivalent to the English filler “come on,” and it’s used the same way. 
  • 에이, 설마! 너 진담으로 그러는 건 아니겠지.
    Ei, seolma! Neo jindameuro geureoneun geon anigetji.
    “Come on! You cannot be serious.”

  • 에이, 두 개를 사자. 비용은 어떻게 되겠지, 뭐!
    Ei, du gaereul saja. Biyongeun eotteoke doegetji, mwo!
    “Come on, let’s get two and hang the expense!”

Two Wooden Blocks with Illustrations of a Human’s Head with Question Marks, and One with a Lightbulb

8. 뭐? (Mwo?) / 뭐라고? (Mworago?) / 네? (Ne?) 

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
뭐? Mwo?“What? What did you say?”
뭐라고?Mworago?“What? What did you say?”
네?Ne?“Pardon? What did you say?”

These common Korean fillers are used to ask someone to repeat what they said. 네? (Ne?) is the most common, while 뭐라고? (Mweorago?) can convey different meanings depending on how you say it. 
  • 뭐라고? 다시 한번 말해봐. 
    Mworago? Dasi hanbeon malhaebwa.
    “What? Say that again.”

  • 뭐? 설마!
    Mwo? seolma!
    “What? No way!”

  • 네? 
    “What did you say?” (Or: “Could you repeat that again?”)

9. 진짜 (jinjja) / 정말 (jeongmal

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning

This filler word means “really,” and it’s often used to tell someone about something you strongly believe in.
  • 진짜 몰랐어. 
    Jinjja mollasseo.
    “I really didn’t know.”

  • 정말? 내일이 수미 생일이야? 몰랐네. 
    Jeongmal? Naeiri sumi saengiriya? Mollatne.
    “Really? Is it Sumi’s birthday tomorrow? I didn’t know.”
See our lesson Gyeongsangdo Korean: Saying “Really?” to learn how to say this word in another dialect! 

10. 아이고! (Aigo!) / 어머나! (Eomeona!) / 어머! (Eomeo!) / 어우씨 (Eoussi

KoreanRomanizationEnglish Meaning
어머나! Eomeona!“Oops!”

These filler words are used in many situations. You can use one of these words when you’ve been startled or when you’re beginning to remember something, for example. 

어머! (Eomeo!) and 어머나! (Eomeona!) are commonly used by women, and 아이고! (Aigo!) is commonly used by elders. 어우씨 (Eoussi) is used by both women and men, but do be careful about saying this as it will make you sound aggressive and unfriendly. 
  • 어우씨, 깜짝이야. 
    Eoussi, kkamjjagiya.
    “Oh, you startled me.” 

  • 아이고! 깜빡했네, 미안. 
    Aigo! Kkamppaghaetne, mian.
    “Oops! I forgot, sorry.” 

  • 어머나! 괜찮으세요? 
    Eomeona! Gwaenchanneuseyo?
    “Oops! Are you okay?”

  • 어머! 진짜요? 
    Eomeo! Jinjjayo?
    “Oops! Oh really?”

A Lady with a Korean Flag Smiling

11. Pros and Cons of Using Korean Filler Words

Filler words exist in every spoken language, making them a key component of communication. As a student of the language, you’ll greatly benefit from learning Korean filler words because doing so will help you sound more like a native speaker in everyday conversations. 

However, you should use them with caution. If you use filler words too often, you’ll sound less confident and less professional. It’s strongly recommended by Korean language professionals to avoid using filler words as much as possible—especially words like “oh” and “err.” 

The best thing would be to avoid saying them at all. It’s better to be silent than to overuse filler words! 

12. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You with Your Korean Studies

In summary, you’ve learned 10 essential Korean filler words that will help you sound more like a native speaker. You’ve also learned some of the pros and cons of using them in your conversations with locals. 

If you want to further advance your Korean skills, make sure to create your free lifetime account on! We offer a number of entertaining and practical learning resources, including vocabulary lists and YouTube videos. 

We look forward to helping you reach your language learning goals!

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Negative Sentences in Korean


How many times a day do you answer a question with “no,” politely reject an invitation, or ask someone not to do something? Pretty often, right? 

Depending on your personality, saying no might come as naturally as breathing to you. But what about in a foreign language?

As you study Korean, one of the most important things you’ll learn is how to form negative sentences. This is a skill that will make you a more effective communicator and add depth to your day-to-day interactions with native speakers. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to construct negative sentences in Korean and become familiar with the most common words of negation. Let’s dive in.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Negate a Statement
  2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question
  3. Other Negating Words and Phrases
  4. KoreanClass101 Can Help with Your Korean Studies!

1. Negate a Statement

To begin, let’s examine how to make negative Korean sentences. There are a few different structures you can use: 

1.  안 (an) + Predicate // 못 (mot) + Predicate 

The negative 안 (an) is an abbreviation of 아니 (ani), meaning “no.” The negative 못 (mot) means “cannot.” You can easily make a negative sentence or phrase by placing either 안 (an) or 못 (mot) in front of the predicate. 

For example: 

1. 안 (an) + Verb

  • 안 (an) + 가요 (gayo) ➞ 안 가요 (an gayo) – “not going”
  • 안 (an) + 마셔요 (masyeoyo) ➞ 안 마셔요 (an masyeoyo) – “not drinking”
  • 안 (an) + 자요 (jayo) ➞ 안 자요 (an jayo) – “not sleeping”

2. 안 (an) + Adjective 

  • 안 (an) + 아파요 (apayo) ➞ 안 아파요 (an apayo) – “not painful”
  • 안 (an) + 예뻐요 (yeppoyo) ➞ 안 예뻐요 (an yeppoyo) – “not pretty”
  • 안 (an) + 바빠요 (bappayo) ➞ 안 바빠요 (an bappayo) – “not busy”

3. 못 (mot) + Verb 

  • 못 (mot) + 가요 (gayo) ➞ 못 가요 (mot gayo) – “cannot go”
  • 못 (mot) + 마셔요 (masyeoyo) ➞ 못 마셔요 (mot masyeoyo) – “cannot drink”
  • 못 (mot) + 자요 (jayo) ➞ 못 자요 (mot jayo) – “cannot sleep”

Remember that 못 (mot) is related to one’s inability to do something. You should not confuse it with the negative particle 안 (an).

For example:

  • 아파요 (apayo) ➞ 못 아파요 (mot apayo) – “cannot be painful” (X)
  • 아파요 (apayo) ➞ 안 아파요 (an apayo) – “not painful” (O)

2. Stem + ~지 않아요 (~ji anayo) // Stem + ~지 못해요 (~ji mothaeyo)

To make this Korean negative form, add 지 (ji) to the stem of the verb or adjective, followed by the negative auxiliary 않다 (anta) or 못 하다 (mot hada). 

For example: 

1. Verb stem + 지 않다 (ji anta)

  • 가다 (gada) ➞ 가지 않아요 (gaji anayo) – “(I) don’t go.” 
  • 먹다 (meokda) ➞ 먹지 않아요 (meokji anayo) – “(I) don’t eat.” 
  • 마시다 (masida) ➞ 마시지 않아요 (masiji anayo) – “(I) don’t drink.” 

2. Adjective stem + 지 않다 (ji anta)

  • 넓다 (neolbda) ➞ 넓지 않아요 (neolbji anayo) – “(It) isn’t spacious.” 
  • 싸다 (ssada) ➞ 싸지 않아요 (ssaji anayo) – “(It) isn’t cheap.” 
  • 크다 (keuda) ➞ 크지 않아요 (keuji anayo) – “(It) isn’t big.” 
  • 비싸다 (bissada) ➞ 비싸지 않아요 (bissaji anayo) – “(It) isn’t expensive.” 

3. Verb stem + 지 못 하다 (ji mot hada)

  • 팔다 (palda) ➞ 팔지 못 해요 (paji mothaeyo) – “(I) cannot sell.” 
  • 뛰다 (ttwida) ➞ 뛰지 못 해요 (ttwiji mothaeyo) – “(I) cannot run.” 
  • 읽다 (ikda) ➞ 읽지 못 해요 (ikji mothaeyo) – “(I) cannot read.” 

3. The Auxiliary Verb 말다 (malda

To make an imperative sentence negative in Korean, use the auxiliary verb 말다 (malda). This word has a polite form and a casual form:

Polite: 하지 말아요 (haji marayo) – “Please don’t do…”
Casual: 하지마 (hajima) – “Don’t do…”

For example: 

1. Polite Form of 말다

  • 게임을 하지 말아요. (Geimeul haji marayo.) – “Please don’t play the game.” 
  • 뛰어 놀지 말아요. (Ttwieo nolji marayo.) – “Please don’t run around.” 
  • 소주를 많이 마시지 말아요. (Sojuleul mani masiji marayo.) – “Please don’t drink too much soju.” 
  • 집에 가지 말아요. (Jibe gaji marayo.) – “Please don’t go home.”

2. Casual Form of 말다 

  • 게임(을) 하지 마. (Geim[eul] haji ma.) “Don’t play the game.” 
  • 뛰어 놀지 마. (Ttwieo nolji ma.) – “Don’t run around.” 
  • 소주 많이 마시지 마. (Soju manh-i masiji ma.) – “Don’t drink too much soju.” 
  • 집에 가지 마. (Jibe gaji ma.) – “Don’t go home.”

Four Colleagues Having a Discussion

4. ~없다 (eopda) – “to not have”

~없다 (eopda) indicates that you don’t have something, and it’s the opposite of ~있다 (itda), which means “to have.”

For example:

  • 시간이 없어요. (Sigani eopseoyo.) – “I don’t have time.”
  • 돈이 없어요. (Doi eopseoyo.) – “I don’t have money.”
  • 애완동물이 없어요. (Aewandongmuri eopseoyo.) – “I don’t have a pet.”

 ~없다 (eopda) can also be used to mean that something was not at a particular location. 

For example:

  • 사람이 한명도 없었어요. (Sarami hanmyeongdo eopseoyo.) – “There was not even one person.” 
  • 수미는 지금 한국에 없어요. (Sumineun jigeum hanguge eopseoyo.) – “Sumi is not in Korea now.”

5. 싫어하다 (sireohada) – “to not like”

싫어하다 (sireohada) is a verb that’s used to say that one does not like something. The opposite of 싫어하다 (sireohada) is 좋아하다 (joahada), which means “to like something.”

For example:

  • 저는 동물을 좋아해요. (Jeoneun dongmureul joahaeyo.) – “I like animals.”
  • 저는 동물을 싫어해요. (Jeoneun dongmul-eul sireohaeyo.) – “I dislike animals.”
  • 저는 여름을 좋아해요. (Jeoneun yeoreumeul joahaeyo.) – “I like summer.”
  • 저는 여름을 싫어해요. (Jeoneun yeoreumeul sireohaeyo.) – “I dislike summer.”

6. ~ 기 싫다 (~gi silta) – “don’t want to”

~ 기 싫다 (~gi silta) is used to express that one doesn’t want to (or like to) do something, with that something being an action verb. To construct this type of sentence, the rule is as follows: 

Verb 기 (gi) + 싫다 (silta

Let’s practice with the verbs 걷다 (geotda) and 쓰다 (sseuda)!

We must transform these action verbs into nouns to use them in this structure:

걷다 (geotda) – “to walk” ➞ 걷기 (geotgi)
쓰다 (sseuda) – “to write” ➞ 쓰기 (sseugi)

For example: 

  • 걷기 싫어. (geodgi sireo.) – “I dislike walking.” 
  • 일기 쓰기 싫어. (ilgi sseugi sireo.) – “I dislike writing a diary.”

A Figure Standing through a Red Cancellation Symbol and Indicating No

How do you say “no” in Korean?

2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question 

A common situation in which you might need to use negation in Korean is when giving a negative answer to a question. There are a few ways you can do this:

1. 아니다 (anida) – “not to be”

아니다 (anida) means “not to be.” Like most Korean verbs, this one is conjugated by removing ~다 (~da) to get the verb stem 아니 (ani).

For example:

  • 그릇 누가 깼어? 너야? (Geureut nuga kkaesseo? Neoya?) – “Who broke the bowl? Is it you?”
  • 아니, 나 아니야. (Ani, na aniya.) – “No, it’s not me.”
  • 혹시 수미 씨? (Hoksi sumi ssi?) – “Are you Sumi?”
  • 아니요, 수미 아니예요. (Aniyo, sumi aniyeyo.) – “No, I’m not Sumi.”

2. 아니 (ani) + ㅂ니다 (mnida) = 아닙니다 (animnida)

This negative form is also used to say “not to be,” as explained above. The only difference is that 아니야 (aniya) is casual and 아닙니다 (animnida) is more polite.

For example: 

  • 아까 도와주셔서 감사해요. (Akka dowajusyeoseo gamsahaeyo.) – “Thank you for helping me earlier.”
  • 아닙니다. (Animnida.) – “No problem.” 
    • * The direct translation is “not to be,” but in context it means “no problem” or “don’t mention it.”

3. Noun1 는 (neun) or 은 (eun) +  Noun2 가 (ga) +이 (i) + 아닙니다 (animnida)

This structure forms a complete negative sentence. We highly recommend you memorize it because it’s commonly used and you can use this sentence structure in any situation. For example, you could say that [Noun1] is not [Noun2]:

  • 저는 학생이 아닙니다. (Jeoneun haksengi animnida.) – “I am not a student.”
  • 요한은 의사가 아닙니다. (Yohaneun uisaga animnida.) – “Yohan is not a doctor.”
  • 요한은 영국사람이 아닙니다. (Yohaneun yeongguksarami animnida.) – “Yohan is not British.”

If you’re not sure whether to use 는 (neun) or 은 (eun), here’s the rule: 

  • (neun) is used after words ending in a vowel.
  • (eun) is used after words ending in a consonant.

Six Coworkers at a Round Table Doing Work

Learning negating words will help you effectively communicate with others.

3. Other Negating Words and Phrases

To conclude, let’s look at just a few more Korean negators and how to use them. 

1. 절대로 (jeoldaero) – “Never” 

절대로 그 사람들과 싸워서는 안돼.
Jeoldaelo geu saramdeulgwa ssawoseoneun andwae.
“You should never fight them.”

2. 아무도 (amudo) – “No one”

아무도 내 이름을 몰라.
Amudo nae ireumeul molla.
“Nobody knows my name.”

3. 어디에도 (eodiedo) – “Nowhere”

휴, 내가 앉을 데가 어디에도 없어.
Hyu, naega anj-eul dega eodiedo eopseo.
“Sigh, there was nowhere for me to sit.”

4. 거의…할 수가 없다 (geoui…hal suga eobsda) – “Hardly”

(너무 졸려서) 눈을 제대로 뜨고 있을 수가 없어.
(Neomu jollyeoseo) nuneul jedaero tteugo isseul suga eopseo.
“I can hardly keep my eyes open.”

5. 별로 (byeolo) – “Not particularly,” “Not especially”

별로 크지 않아. 
Byeollo keuji ana.
“It’s not particularly big.”

Here are a couple more pages on where you can study more negative vocabulary: 

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4. KoreanClass101 Can Help with Your Korean Studies!

In this article, you’ve learned everything about negation in Korean, from basic negative expressions to more advanced rules. If you would like to continue learning with us, KoreanClass101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings as well as free resources to keep your Korean learning entertaining! Also, you can upgrade to Premium PLUS in order to access all of our study materials and get personal 1-on-1 coaching!

To explore today’s topic further, here are study pages from KoreanClass101 and across the web where you can learn more about negation!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how confident you feel about forming Korean negative sentences now! We look forward to hearing from you, and will do our best to help if you have any questions or concerns.

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Learn Korean Tenses

There’s no denying that K-Pop has taken over the world and played a huge role in popularizing the Korean language. According to The Korea Herald, the King Sejong Institute is busy at work opening new Korean-language learning centers around the globe. This institute currently operates 172 branches and teaches Korean to 57,000 students in 56 different countries. 

Whether you’re learning the Korean language to understand the lyrics of your favorite K-Pop songs or to follow along with the subtitles for Korean films, you’ve come to the right place! 

Korean tenses are an essential part of the Korean language you should become familiar with early on. In today’s article, we’ll teach you about the present, past, and future tenses in Korean and show you how they’re formed. The information provided here is intended for beginners, but intermediate and advanced students can also read it to brush up on their skills. 

Let’s go!

The Word Goals and a Blank Numbered List

Having a goal is very important in learning the Korean language.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Present Tense
  2. Past Tense
  3. Future Tense
  4. Revise Your Knowledge with KoreanClass101!
  5. Why Learn with Us?

1. Present Tense

The Korean present tense is used to describe something that is happening in the present. Take the English phrases “I eat” and “I drink,” for example. There are three different ways to form the present tense in Korean. 


When the last syllable of the stem ends in a consonant, -는다 (-neunda) is added to the stem of the word. 

For example:

  • 먹다 (meokda) – “to eat” 
    • 먹 (meok) + 는다 (neunda) = 먹는다 (meokneunda) or “I eat”
  • 닫다 (datda) – “to close” 
    • 닫 (dat) + 는다 (neunda) = 닫는다 (datneunda) or “I close”

Example sentences:

  • 라면을 먹는다. (Ramyeoneul meokneunda.) – “I eat ramen.”
  • 문을 닫는다. (Muneul datneunda.) – “I close the door.”


When the last syllable of the stem ends in a vowel, -ㄴ (-n) is added to the last syllable followed by 다 (da). 

For example:

  • 배우다 (baewuda) – “to learn” 
    • 배우 (baewu) + ㄴ다 (nda) = 배운다 (baewunda) or “I learn”
  • 공부하다 (gongbuhada) – “to study” 
    • 공부하 (gongbuha) + ㄴ다 (nda) = 공부한다 (gongbuhanda) or “I study” 
  • 가다 (gada) – “to go” 
    • 가 (ga) + ㄴ다 (nda) = 간다 (ganda) or “I go” 
  • 오다 (oda) – “to come” 
    • 오 (o) + ㄴ다 (nda) = 온다 (onda) or “I come”

Example sentences:

  • 영어를 배운다. (Yeongeoreul baewunda.) – “I learn English.”
  • 한국어를 공부한다. (Hangukeoreul gongbuhanda.) – “I study Korean.”
  • 집으로 간다. (Jibeuro ganda.) – “I go home.”
  • 친구가 온다. (Chinguga onda.) – “My friend comes.”


This grammar rule is used to describe something happening right now, such as “I am eating” and “I am drinking” in English. 

Remove the stem and simply add -고 있어요 (-go itseoyo) to complete the sentence. 

For example:

  • 먹다 (meokda) – “to eat”
    • 먹 (meok) + 고 있어요 (go isseoyo) = 먹고 있어요 (meokgo isseoyo) or “I’m eating”
  • 마시다 (masida) – “to drink”
    • 마시 (masi) + 고 있어요 (go isseoyo) = 마시고 있어요 (masigo isseoyo) or “I’m drinking”
  • 입다 (ibda) – “to put on” or “to wear”
    • 입 (ib) + 고 있어요 (go isseoyo) = 입고 있어요 (ipgo isseoyo) or “I’m wearing”

Example sentences: 

  • 밥을 먹고 있어요. (Babeul meokgo isseoyo.) – “I am eating some rice.” 
  • 물을 마시고 있어요.  (Mureul masigo isseoyo.) – “I am drinking some water.”
  • 드레스를 입고 있어요. (Deureseureul ipgo isseoyo.) – “I am wearing a dress.”
A Swirly Clock Picture

The conversation will be a lot smoother if you can construct tenses correctly.

2. Past Tense

The past tense is used to describe actions that took place at some point in the past, which is especially important in storytelling or conveying certain types of information. There are three ways to form the Korean past tense. 

RULE #1 

When the final vowel of a verb is ㅗ (o) orㅏ(a), add -았다 (-atda).

For example:

  • 만나다 (mannada) – “to meet” 
    • 만나 (manna) + 았다 (atda) = 만났다 (manatda) or “I met”
  • 가다 (gada) – “to go” 
    • 가 (ga) + 았다 (atda) = 갔다 (gatda) or “I went”

Example sentences:

  • 친구를 만났다. (Chingureul mannatda.) – “I met a friend.”
  • 집으로 갔다. (Jibeuro gatda.) – “I went home.”


When the final vowel of a verb is anything but ㅗ (o) orㅏ(a), add -었다 (-eotda).

For example:

  • 먹다 (meokda) – “to eat” 
    • 먹 (meok) + ~았다 (-atda) = 먹었다 (meokatda) or “I ate”
  • 배우다 (baewuda) – “to learn” 
    • 배우 (baewu) + ~았다 (-atda) = 배웠다 (baeweotda) or “I learned”

Example sentences: 

  • 수박을 먹었다. (Subageul meogeotda.) – “I ate a watermelon.”
  • 한국어를 배웠다. (Hangugeoreul baeweotda.) – “I studied Korean.”


If a verb ends with the syllable 하 (ha), add -였다 (-yeotda).

For example:

  • 요리하다 (yorihada) – “to cook” 
    • 요리하 (yoriha) + 였다 (yeotda) = 요리했다 (yorigatda) or “I cooked”
  • 공부하다 (gongbuhada) – “to study” 
    • 공부하 (gongbuha) + 였다 (yeotda) = 공부했다 (gongbuhaetda) or “I studied”

Example sentences:

  • 한식을 요리하다. (Hansigeul yorihada.) – “I cooked Korean dishes.”
  • 요리를 공부했다. (Yorireul gongbuhaetda.) – “I studied cooking.”
Someone Celebrating at the Top of a Big Flight of Stairs

Learning the Korean language takes time, but it’s absolutely worth it!

3. Future Tense

The future tense is used to talk about future events. There are two Korean future tenses: one that describes something that will happen in the future and one that describes what might happen

Simple Future Tense

The simple future tense is very easy to learn because all you need to do is add -겠다 (-getta) to the stem of a verb. Simple, right? 

For example:

  • 배우다 (baewuda) – “to learn” 
    • 배우 (baewu) + 겠다 (getda) = 배우겠다 (baewugetda) or “I will learn”
  • 먹다 (meokda) – “to eat” 
    • 먹 (meok) + 겠다 (getda) = 먹겠다 (meokgetda) or “I will eat” 
  • 가다 (gada) – “to go” 
    • 가 (ga) + 겠다 (getda) = 가겠다 (gagetda) or “I will go” 
  • 키우다 (kiuda) – “to raise” 
    • 키우 (kiu) + 겠다 (getda) = 키우겠다 (kiugetda) or “I will raise” 

Example sentences: 

  • 포토샵을 배우겠다. (Potosyapeul baewugetda.) – “I will learn Photoshop.”
  • 나중에 먹겠다. (Najunge meokgetda.) – “I will eat later.”
  • 저녁에 가겠다. (Jeonyuge gagetda.) – “I will go in the evening.”
  • 토끼를 키우겠다. (Tokkireul kiwugetda.) – “I will raise a rabbit.” 

Probable Future 

The probable future tense is used when you want to say, “I will probably ___.” The rule is to attach 으 (eu) or ㄹ  거에요 (r geoyeyo) to the verb stem. 

Here are the rules:

1) If the stem ends in a consonant, attach 을 거예요 (eul geoyeyo).

2) If it ends in a vowel, attach ㄹ 거예요 (r geoyeyo).

  • 먹다 (meokda) – “to eat” 
    • 먹 (meok) + 을 거예요 (eul geoyeyo) = 먹을 거예요 (meogeul geoyeyo) or “I will probably eat”
  • 가다 (gada) – “to go” 
    • 가 (ga) + ㄹ 거예요 (r geoyeyo) = 갈 거예요 (gal geoyeyo) or “I will probably go”
Students Taking an Exam in a Classroom

Revise, revise, and revise! It is the fastest way to learn Korean well.

4. Revise Your Knowledge with KoreanClass101! 

How about a quick exercise to revise everything you’ve learned today? 

Below is a table featuring words from our free list “Vocabulary for the 25 Most Commonly Used Verbs of Any Language.” You can either print out this page or get a notebook ready, and fill in the answers for the blank cells. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle to remember the correct answers! When you’re done with the exercise, simply drag each column to see the answer. 

Dictionary FormPresent TensePast TenseFuture Tense
먹다 (meokda)먹는다 (meokneunda)먹었다 (meokeotda)먹겠다 (meokgetda)
가다 (gada)간다 (ganda)갔다 (gatda)가겠다 (gagetda)
사용하다 (sayonghada)사용한다 (sayonghanda)사용했다 (sayonghaetda)사용하겠다 (sayonghageta)
보다 (boda)본다 (bonda)봤다 (bwatda)보겠다 (bogetda)
일하다 (ilhada)일한다 (ilhanda)일했다 (ilhaeta)일하겠다 (ilhageta)
말하다 (malhada)말한다 (malhanda)말했다 (malhaetda)말하겠다 (malhagetda)
오다 (oda)온다 (onda)왔다 (watda)오겠다 (ogetda)
마시다 (masida)마신다 (masinda)마셨다 (masyeotda)마시겠다 (masigetda)
자다 (jada)잔다 (janda)잤다 (jatda)자겠다 (jageta)
생각하다 (saengakhada)생각한다 (saengakhanda)생각했다 (saengakhaetda)생각하겠다(saengakhageta)
알아듣다 (aladeutda)알아듣는다 (aladeutneunda)알아들었다 (aladeuleotda)알아들겠다 (aladeulgetda)
물어보다 (mureoboda)물어본다 (mureobonda)물어봤다 (mureobwatda)물어보겠다 (mureobogetda)
주다 (juda)준다(junda)줬다 (jweotda)주겠다 (jugetda)
시작하다 (sijakhada)시작한다(sijakhanda)시작했다 (sijakhaetda)시작하겠다 (sijakhagetda)

How many did you get right? If you’re still struggling to understand Korean tenses, go back to the corresponding section from the article and try it again. Practice makes perfect! 

Here’s another list of Korean verbs from our website that you can use to practice the past, present, and future tenses:

And here are lessons that we made just for you (that is, if you’re an absolute beginner):

Did you find those too easy? Here are some pages for intermediate and advanced learners:

Check out these other pages from the web to learn more about Korean-language verbs in general: 

5. Why Learn with Us? 

KoreanClass101 offers free vocabulary lists and a free dictionary where you can learn new words and practice their pronunciation. We also have a Korean word of the day feature, which allows you to receive a free daily Korean lesson from us. We know that some Korean learners love challenging themselves by memorizing a word everyday, so we’ve also compiled the Korean Core 100 Word List so that you can challenge yourself and learn Korean words that are used every day in Korea. We also have 200-, 300-, and 2000-word lists! So do check them out if you’re up to the challenge!

Have a question? Feel free to leave a comment below or simply visit our forum page where you can learn all about Korea and practice your language skills. A lot of Korean learners share their Korean travel experiences and provide learning tips here. In addition, native Korean speakers also visit this page to help Korean learners like yourself.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article, and good luck with your Korean studies!

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