Tag Archives: learning

Pronouncing Difficult Korean Sounds

You’ve carefully perused the fantasmic page on learning hangeul, right? Excellent… [drums fingertips together]

But what Sejong didn’t tell you with that wise man / stupid man one-liner is that Hangeul isn’t perfectly phonetic. [Collective gasp!] Just like many other scripts, there are irregularities and pronunciation tricks that must be learned. I’ve adapted an excellent Korean grammar book, Elementary Korean by Ross King and Jae-Hoon Yeon, for this section. Continue reading

How to Conjugate Korean Verbs: Formal

Koreans use formal verbs in many business and public speaking situations. Newscasters speak in unremitting formal tones; business people and shop owners will often use the formal when speaking to clients and customers; people use it with those who are significantly older; public officials use the formal when campaigning; even friends and associates sometimes use the formal with one another to express respect, humility or deference to the other person. Continue reading

How to Conjugate Korean Verbs: Honorific Polite

The honorific polite form is used often in the Korean business world. You’ll hear it when from people speaking to business clients and customers, to teachers and elders, on semi-formal occasions and also from time to time among friends.  Continue reading

How to Conjugate Korean Verbs

If it sends chills down your spine to learn verbs in a language where the very word for verb (동사) also means death by cold (no kidding!), then take comfort. Korean verbs are actually not that bad. Not nearly as bad as death by cold, at least. The good news: you don’t have to change the verb endings (conjugate the verbs) depending on who does the action. The, er… other news: there are lots of endings, sometimes called “patterns” that change the verb’s mood and meaning and you’ll have to learn them. Cheer up, chum. The other good news is that you can start using verbs right away as soon as you know just one conjugation: the present tense polite form. Continue reading

How to Conjugate Korean Verbs: Polite

There’s nothing easier than making informal Korean verbs into polite Korean verbs. (If only making everything polite were so simple!) First, make the informal form. Then, simply add 요 to the end of the verb. Ta-da!

The Polite form is used most often in Korean. Commonly, it’s used among friends, especially acquaintances but sometimes also with close friends. It’s OK to use this form for almost every daily interaction you have, but you’ll need to understand the honorific polite when it’s spoken to you by business owners and you’ll also be appreciated if you use the formal with people much older than you as well as people in positions of authority.
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How to Conjugate Korean Verbs: Informal

The informal is the basic. Knowing it will help you make all the other forms. However, do note that you can only use it when you’re talking to a close friend or somebody significantly younger than you!

To make the informal, first find the vowel closest to the -다 in the dictionary form. For example, if we look up the word laugh in the dictionary (or our handy cell phones dictionaries) we would find 웃다, where ㅜ is the vowel closest to -다. Second, drop the -다. Now you have the base, in this case 웃-. Now to make the informal, add a new vowel ending. The vowel you use will depend on what vowel is closest to the end of the verb base. Use this chart as a reference to find the correct ending to add at this point to make the informal. In our example, since the verb ends in a consonant and the closest vowel to the end of the verb base is ㅜ, we will add 어 and end up with the informal, 웃어. Try putting some of the verbs you know into the informal form. If you have questions, just leave them in the comments section and I or somebody else will try to answer them. Take a look at the chart for a simple(ish) glance at how to do it. Continue reading

Learn Korean: Useful Expressions

Here are some useful expressions that will give you just enough to get around, but not quite enough to get into trouble. (Don’t worry. That comes later.) Continue reading

Funny Facts about Korean

Every language has its bizarre words, booby traps, and hilarious translations. I once wanted some french fries and gravy in Quebec and asked for a hooker by mistake (poutine is the food, poutin is a hooker) and came back to my professor’s office in Italy after an oral exam, explaining “I forgot my penis.” (pene is penis, penna is pen). Well, my friend, Korean is no exception. Continue reading

Learn the Korean Alphabet: Hangeul

When King Sejong announced the invention of a Korean writing system 550 years ago, he claimed “A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days.” No pressure. Continue reading

Learn Korean Online

So you want to marry Kim Yu-Na. Or, more realistically, you are like many others living in South Korea as a foreigner. Either way, you’re gonna be much more successful if you can learn to speak some Korean.

Learning Korean can be a bit intimidating for English speakers, especially if it’s your first time with an Asian language. For starters, the sentence structure (syntax) is different from English. Every language forces your brain to think in a different pattern; breaking into the Korean pattern will not be as natural as understanding thought patterns of European languages. What’s more, you get a precious few word freebies (cognates). English has loads of similarities with other European languages since they cohabited the same region for so long, however the only freebies with Korean are “Konglish,” words that have been adapted from English (and sometimes French) into Korean. However, you (yes, you!) can learn Korean.

Luckily, the first step–learning the alphabet–is pretty easy. When King Sejong announced the invention of a Korean writing system 550 years ago, he claimed “A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days.” No pressure.

The Korean Alphabet, Hangeul (한글)

How to Conjugate Korean Verbs

Useful Expressions

Funny Facts about Korean

Extras: Rate Your Hagwon

Keep checking back as I update this page with more links and this site with more resources and posts.