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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 many ways can you say “yes” in Korean?
There are two formal ways to say “yes” in Korean. The one you might think of first is 네[ne]. But actually, the first official standard Korean word for “yes” is 예[ye]. Did you know that 네[ne] only became standard in 1988? Nowadays, people use both.
There are also two informal ways to say yes. If you’re talking with close friends, or people younger than you, you can use the words 응[eung] and 어[eo]. 응[eung] usually sounds cute and 어[eo] typically has a more masculine sound.
Let’s break it down with some examples so you know which “yes” to use and when to use it.
Say, for example, you’re talking to your boss. Your boss asks if you've finished the project you’ve been working on. To answer “yes,” you can use either 예 [ye] or 네 [ne]. 예 [ye] is a little more polite.
Let’s imagine another scenario where you’re talking to your friend. Your friend wants to know if you’re going to come over to his house tomorrow. In this case, you can use either 응[eung] or 어[eo].
In our last situation let’s imagine you’re talking to your mom. She is asking you if you’ve finished your homework yet. Now, some Koreans speak to their parents using polite Korean and some don’t... so this answer differs from family to family. In this case, you can use any of the words we've mentioned for “yes,” depending on the situation.
An interesting tip worth noting is that because 예[ye] was the original word for “yes” in Korean, the older generation tends to use it more. On the other hand, the younger generation tends to use 네[ne]... so it’s good to know both!
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer them!
See you next time. 다음 시간에 만나요. (Daeum-sigane mannayo.)