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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Jae here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Korean questions.
The question for this lesson is…
How do I use 명 [myeong] and 분 [bun] correctly when counting in Korean?
In Korea, formality is really important. Therefore, even words for counting, or counters, can serve as honorifics in Korean. For example, 명 [myeong] is a counter used to refer to people. However, when you’re talking about people who are older or of a high status, you should use 분 [bun]. It’s an honorific counter used to refer to people.
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to use 명 [myeong] and 분 [bun] correctly.
When you go into a restaurant, a staff member will probably ask you "How many?" to check how many people you’ll be dining with. In Korean, you’ll be asked either 몇 명이세요? [Myeot myeongiseyo?] or 몇 분이세요? [Myeot buniseyo?]. Of course, the latter is more formal and polite.
Then, how should you respond? Can you also use either 명 [myeong] or 분 [bun]? The answer no. You can only use 명 [myeong]. This is because you are referring to yourself and the group that you are a part of. You should only use honorifics to show respect to others.
Let’s do one more example. Which counter should you use to say "There are 40 people in my company?" Since you are referring to yourself and your workplace, you need to use 명 [myeong]. Therefore, you would say 우리 회사에는 40 명이 있습니다. [Uri hoesaeneun sasip myeongi itsseumnida.]
How was this lesson? I hope that clears things up!
Please leave any more questions in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
See you next time. 다음 시간에 만나요. (Daeum-sigane mannayo.)