Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Keith: It's Impossible to Study Korean with All That Noise! In this lesson, you will learn how to say you're not very good at something.
Misun: Like not good at, 잘 못해요.
Keith: This conversation takes place…
Misun: On the street
Keith: The conversation is between…
Misun: A foreigner and a Korean person.
KeithL: The speakers are strangers, so they’ll be speaking formal Korean.
Misun: 네. 존댓말이요.
Keith: All right. Let’s listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

예린 외국 사람이에요?
빌리 죄송합니다. 한국말 잘 못해요.
예린 외국 사람이네요!
빌리 죄송합니다. 한국말 잘 못해요.
English Host: One more time with the English.
예린 외국 사람이에요?
Keith: Are you a foreigner?
빌리 죄송합니다. 한국말 잘 못해요.
Keith: Sorry. I don't speak Korean well.
예린 외국 사람이네요!
Keith: You are a foreigner!
빌리 죄송합니다. 한국말 잘 못해요.
Keith: Sorry. I don't speak Korean well.
Misun: Keith, what's the perception of foreigners in Korea?
Keith: Well, if you look different than Koreans, you might be a spectacle to some kids.
Misun: Right, Korea is the most homogeneous country in the world, right?
Keith: So if you look different, you'll get some looks.
Misun: That’s right. But recently, there's been a lot more foreigners in Korea.
Keith: Yeah. There's the American military, and a lot of English teachers in Korea, too.
Misun: Absolutely. There's also a lot of Chinese and Japanese people that come to Korea. For example, like to tour and work or something like that.
Keith: Right. I mean, not just those countries, there’s a bunch of people. So in the past few years, there has been a larger influx of foreigners in Korea. So Misun, just a quick question, what was your perceptions of foreigners in Korea when you were a kid?
Misun: Oh. Well, when I was young, like, wherever I look, it’s just there’s military people, and then missionary personal nurse like Mormons, walking on the street. And then I was so fascinated by their look. It’s so exotic and very handsome.
Keith: Everyone’s so good-looking.
Misun: Right. They’re totally different from what I got, right? So it’s kind of like a strange feeling.
Keith: But I think recently, since there’s a lot more people, I think Korean people are getting used to foreigners being in Korea now.
Misun: 네. So no difference at all now.
Keith: Well, I think there is a difference but just a little less. All right, well, let’s take a look at the vocabulary.
Misun: 외국 사람 [natural native speed]
Keith: Foreigner.
Misun: 외국 사람 [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 외국 사람 [natural native speed].
Keith: Next.
Misun: 죄송합니다 [natural native speed]
Keith: I'm sorry.
Misun: 죄송합니다 [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 죄송합니다 [natural native speed]
Keith: Next is…
Misun: 한국말 [natural native speed].
Keith: Korean (language)
Misun: 한국말 [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 한국말 [natural native speed].
Keith: And finally…
Misun: 잘 못해요 [natural native speed].
Keith: Not very good at.
Misun: 잘 못해요 [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 잘 못해요 [natural native speed].
Keith: All right. Well, let's take a look at some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Misun: The first phrase we’ll look at is, 죄송합니다.
Keith: I'm sorry.
Misun: This is the most formal and most polite way to say sorry to someone.
Keith: Right, there are a couple of other forms. Like the informal.
Misun: Yea, You wouldn't use 죄송합니다 with a close friend. It's too polite. If you were talking to a good friend, you could say 미안해.
Keith: Yeah, it's informal, but still apologetic. So who would we use 죄송합니다 with?
Misun: We would use it with bosses, teachers, the elderly person, et cetera.
Keith: Right. Essentially the people you have to respect.
Misun: 네 맞아요.
Keith: All right. Our next word is “foreigner.”
Misun: 외국사람.
Keith: And many people may hear this word, but there's another word people might hear as well.
Misun: 네. 외국인.
Keith: Can we have that a little slowly?
Misun: 네, 외/국/인
Keith: And this essentially means the same thing, 외국사람 and 외국인.
Misun: 네. Both mean foreigner.
Keith: All right. Well, let’s move on to the focus of this lesson.

Lesson focus

Misun: The focus of this lesson is the phrase 잘 못 해요.
Keith: 잘 못 해요 (jal mot haeyo) is a phrase that is used to express one's lack of adequate ability, not very good at.
Misun: Yes, It's translated as "not very good at."
Keith: And just 잘 못 해요 is in the standard politeness level. It is polite and conversational. Well, Misun, let's take a look at the one example that came out in this lesson.
Misun: The foreigner said, 죄송합니다. 한국말 잘 못 해요.
Keith: "Sorry. I don't speak Korean well."
Misun: The first part is 한국말.
Keith: Korean.
Misun: And the second part is 잘 못 해요.
Keith: Which is literally “not good at.”
Misun: So literally it's “Korean, not good at.”
Keith: But when we translate it, it means “I'm not good at speaking Korean.”
Misun: But instead of this one example, how about we give some other useful example, Keith?
Keith: Sure! How about "I'm not good at sports." Some people might find this useful.
Misun: Yes. That would be 스포츠 잘 못 해요.
Keith: Right. Notice how the thing you're not good at, Korean or sports, it all comes in the front of the phrase, 잘 못해요.
Misun: Another example we can give is 운전 잘 못 해요.
Keith: "I'm not good at driving."
Misun: Again. Driving comes out in front.
Keith: The word for driving is 운전. This next example is specifically for me.
Misun: You mean, 공부 잘 못 해요?
Keith: "I'm not a very good student." But literally, that's I'm not good at studying.
Misun: This might be useful for some of our listeners, 술 잘 못 마셔요.
Keith: "I have low tolerance." Or literally, I'm not good at drinking. Why would that be useful Misun?
Misun: Korean culture tends to use alcohol quite often for social situations.
Keith: Right. So if you’re not that fun of drinking, you can kindly refuse drinks with that phrase.
Misun: Yes. Okay. So we went over 잘 못해요, which means “I'm not very good at.”
Keith: But you can use just 잘 on its own to say that you're good at something.
Misun: Yup. For example, 한국말 잘 해요.
Keith: I'm good at Korean.
Misun: Or, 태권도 잘 해요.
Keith: I'm good at taekwondo.
Misun: Notice how the phrase 잘 못 해요 becomes just 잘 해요.
Keith: Right. And that means “you’re good at something.”
Misun: We can also change the phrase 잘 못 해요 again.
Keith: Right. We can say just say 못 해요.
Misun: 네 맞아요. This means that you can’t do something.
Keith: For example?
Misun: 중국어 못 해요.
Keith: "I can't speak Chinese." And this one is stronger. Instead of “I'm not good at,” it's pretty clear – “I can't.”
Misun: 네 맞아요. Or if you don't have a license, 운전 못 해요.
Keith: That means, "I can't drive."


Keith: Well, that just about does it for today, bye-bye.
Misun: 안녕히 계세요 여러분. (Annyeonghaseyo yeoreobun).


Korean Grammar Made Easy - Unlock This Lesson’s Grammar Guide

Easily master this lesson’s grammar points with in-depth explanations and examples. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

KoreanClass101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
Pinned Comment
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello KC101여러분

여러분은 술을 잘 마시나요? 아니면 잘 못 마시나요?

KoreanClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 05:00 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello Semi,

See below translations!

한국말 잘 못해요. I'm not good at Korean.

한국말 잘 해요. I'm good at Korean.

한국말 못 해요. I don't speak Korean.

한국어 할 수 있어요. I speak Korean,

한국어 할 수 없어요. I don't speak Korean.

Kind regards,

Hyeon Yeong Seo

Team KoreanClass101.com

Monday at 05:03 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.


I have a question this phrases means the same to Say not good at and be good at?

한국말 잘 못해요.

한국말 잘 해요.

한국말 못 해요

한국어 잘 못해요

한국어 잘 해요

한국어 못 해요.

한국어 할 수 있어요

한국어 할 수 없어요


KoreanClass101.com Verified
Monday at 04:26 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello Palak,

Thanks for posting!

Informal way to say 못해요 is 못해.

Kind regards,

Hyeon Yeong Seo

Team KoreanClass101.com

Wednesday at 06:16 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

How to use 못해요 informally?

KoreanClass101.com Verified
Saturday at 05:18 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello 던,

Thank you for posting. Great job, keep up the good work!



Team KoreanClass101.com

Tuesday at 03:48 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

저는 스포츠 잘 못해요.

영어 잘 해요.

태권도 못해요.

KoreanClass101.com Verified
Friday at 12:18 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Ula,

Thanks for posting. As it is a polite sentence you would use 저는/전:

전 커피 못 마셔요.



Team KoreanClass101.com

Tuesday at 08:44 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hello, can i ask, would this be correct for 'I can't drink coffee' ?

난 커피 못 마셔요.

KoreanClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 03:32 PM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi Maria,

Thank you for posting. There are other big cities in Korea that are also fun to live in (Busan is also a popular spot for both local and foreigners). Living expenses are not too bad, but housing may be a problem--but you could always find a roommate.



Team KoreanClass101.com

Maria E Constantine
Monday at 04:34 AM
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Dear Keith and Misun:

I am an American of later age. I'd like to go and live in South Korea. Would it be possible, and if it is expensive, can it be done somewhere other than Seoul?