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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…
What’s the difference between 이에요 (ieyo) and 예요 (yeyo)?
Both 이에요[ieyo] and 예요[yeyo] are used like the English verb "to be." So how do you know which one to use? The answer is actually pretty simple: If the last word of the sentence ends in a consonant, you add 이에요 (ieyo). If the last word ends in a vowel, you add 예요 (yeyo).
Let’s break it down with some examples so you know which ending to use and when to use it.
Let’s say you want to introduce your new friend, 민수[Minsu]. How would you say, “This is Minsu?” 민수[Minsu] ends in a vowel, so you'd say, 민수예요 [Minsuyeyo] with the 예요 (yeyo) ending.
Let’s do another example with the word, 선물[seonmul], which means “gift” or “present.” Imagine that you bought something for your friend—how would you say, “It’s a gift?” Since 선물[seonmul] ends in a consonant, you'd say, 선물이에요 [Seonmurieyo] with the 이에요 (ieyo) ending.
One final example would be where you use both. For example, you see a drink on the table, and you want to ask, “Is it juice or water?” The Korean word for “juice,” 주스[jeuseu], ends in a vowel, and the word for “water,” 물[mul], ends in a consonant. So what do you do? Here’s a hint. You have to ask two questions, one ending in 예요 (yeyo) and the other in 이에요 (ieyo). Do you know the answer? The answer is: 주스예요? 물이에요? [Jeuseuyeyo? Murieyo?].
Remember, even if you make a mistake, you'll still be able to get your point across. However, knowing the difference is a great way to improve how natural you sound in Korean!
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.)