10 Ways to ask How Are You in Korean & How to Respond

How are you?

Good? Good! You’re here because you want to ask How are you in Korean.

This is a super-important question to know.

You’ll learn 10 ways to ask it and you will also learn how to respond in Korean.

Sound good? Good!

how are you in korean


Part 1 – Formal Vs Informal

First, you know that Korean has two main speech forms, right? Formal and Informal. 

  • Formal speech  [존댓말 ( John-Daet-Mal ) ]
    • Formal speech is a polite form of speech that you use when speaking to strangers, elders, or someone of a higher position at work. You must always use formal speech in the service industry when communicating with customers or clients, or in business settings.
  • Informal speech  [반말 ( Ban-Mal ) ]
    • Informal speech is a speech that you use when talking to friends, family, and to people who are your age or younger. Remember, it is rude to use informal speech when you are talking to strangers, elders, or those of higher position than you at work.

You will learn both ways of asking How are You in Korean.

Part 2 – Audio Lesson to Help You Learn Korean

Want to learn Korean? Here’s an audio lesson (on how to greet others in Korean) that will get you speaking the language.

Just press the play button on the player below.

This lesson came from KoreanClass101, a Korean language learning program and website.

Click here to visit KoreanClass101 for more fun & easy lessons.

Part 3 – How to Say How Are You in Korean

1. How are you? 

how are you in korean

Formal

어떻게 지내세요?

Eo-tteoh-ke Ji-nae-se-yo?

Informal

어떻게 지내?

Eo-tteoh-ke Ji-nae?

This is the most basic way to ask how are you in Korean.

Do you see the “yo” at the end of the first example?

Sentences written in formal speech often end with ~(yo).

That’s something you should remember.

Now, let’s break these phrases down. Here are the words you should know.

  • 어떻게 (Eo-tteoh-ke) = How
  • 지내다(Ji-nae-da) = to spend time or live. You can also use 계시다(Gae-Shi-da) which means the same thing but is only used in formal speech.
  • 어떻게 지내세요 in literal translation is ‘how have you been spending your time’, which basically means ‘how are you’.

How can you respond to this question?

Basic Responses

Formal

I am fine

저는 지냈어요

Jeo-neun Jal Ji-nae-sseo-yo

I am not fine

저는 지냈어요

Jeo-neun Jal Mot Ji-nae-sseo-yo

Informal

I am fine

나는 지냈어

Na-neun Jal Ji-nae-sseo

I am not fine

나는 지냈어

Na-neun Jal Mot Ji-nae-sseo

Here are the words you should know.

  • (jal) = well.
  • (Mot) = bad.
  • 하다(Ha-da) = to do.
    • So for example, if you say 잘하다(Jal-ha-da), it means ‘to do something well’.
    • If you write 못하다(Mot-ha-da) it means ‘to do something poorly/badly’.
  • 지냈어요 means ‘have been doing well’
  • (Jeo)= ‘I/Me’ used in formal speech
  • (Nah)=’I/Me’ used in informal speech

Now that you know how to ask How are You in Korean, let’s learn some other variations.

You can ask someone how they’ve been in Korean.

2. How have you been?

how are you in korean

Formal

어떻게 지내셨어요?

Eo-tteoh-ke Ji-nae-shuh-sseo-yo?

Informal

어떻게 지냈어?

Eo-tteoh-ke Ji-nae-sseo?

Advanced Responses

Formal

I am So-so

저는 그저 그렇게 지냈어요

Jeo-neun Geu-jeo Geu-reo-keh Ji-nae-sseo-yo

How about you?

당신은요?

Dang-shin-eun-yo?

Informal

I am So-so

나는 그저 그렇게 지냈어

Na-neun Geu-jeo Geu-reo-keh Ji-nae-sseo

How about you?

너는?

Neo-neun?

Words to know:

  • 당신 (Dang-shin) = ‘You’ used in formal speech.
  • (Neo)= ‘You’ used in informal speech.
  • 그저 그래 (Geu-jeo-geu-rae) = so-so

3.  Have you been well? 

how are you in korean

Want to know if they’ve been doing well? Use these Korean questions.

Formal

안녕히 계셨어요?

An-nyoung-hee Gae-shuh-sseo-yo?

Informal

있었어?

Jal it-sseot-sseo?

Words to know:

  • 안녕히 (Ahn-nyoung-hee) means the same thing as (Jal);
  • It which means well/good, but 안녕히 (Ahn-nyoung-hee) is only used in formal speech.
  • 계시다(Gae-Shi-da) = to spend time or live. This word has the same meaning as ‘지내다’ (Ji-nae-da), but 계시다 (Gae-shi-da) is only used in formal speech.
  • 있었어 = to be (standard past tense)

Answering this question is simple. You can say either yes or no.

Basic Responses

Formal

Yes

Nae

No

아니요

Ah-ni-yo

Informal

Yes

Eung

No

아니

Ah-ni

Words to know:

  • (Yes/ok) – used only in formal speech
  • 아니오 (No) – used only in formal speech
  • (Eung/ok) – used only in informal speech
  • 아니 (No) – used only in informal speech

4. Have you been well? (2)

Formal

안녕히 지내셨어요?

An-nyoung-hee Ji-nae-shuh-sseo-yo?

Informal

지냈어?

Jal Ji-naet-sseo?

how are you in korean

Advanced Responses

Formal

I’ve been busy

저는 바쁘게 지냈어요

Jeo-neun Ba-bbeu-gae Ji-naet-sseo-yo

Informal

I’ve been busy

나는 바쁘게 지냈어

Na-neun Ba-bbeu-gae Ji-naet-sseo

Words to know:

  • 바쁘다(Ba-bbeu-da) : Busy

5. Have you been well? (3)

With this specific question, you want to know if they have been well during the time you two have been apart.

Formal

그동안 계셨어요?

Geu-dong-ahn Jal Gae-shut-sseo-yo?

Informal

그동안 있었어?

Geo-dong-ahn Jal It-sseot-seo?

how are you in korean

Words to know:

  • 그동안 (geu-dong-ahn) = in the meantime
  • 그동안 계셨어요? Means ‘have you been well in the meantime (while we haven’t seen each other)’?
  • Basic Responses

Formal

Yes, I have been very well

, 저는 지냈어요

Nae, Jeo-neun Jal Ji-nae-sseo-yo

Informal

Yes, I have been very well

, 나는 있었어

Eung, Na-neun Jal Ji-nae-sseo

6.  Have you been well? (4)

The following questions are asking whether any significant events or incidents have happened in the meantime ever since the last time you saw each other. 

‘Have you been well (without any significant events/incidents)?’

Formal

그동안 없으셨어요?

Geu-dong-ahn Byul Il Ub-eu-shut- sseo-yo?

Informal

그동안 없었어?

Geu-dong-ahn Byul Il Ub-seo-sseo?

how are you in korean

Words to know:

  • (Byul Il) means any events, incidents.
  • 없다 = to not exist
  • 별일 없다 =  There isn’t any significant events/indicents/happenings.

Basic Responses

Formal

No,  I am fine (without any events/incidents/happenings)

아니요, 저는  별일 없었어요

Ah-ni-yo, Jeo-neun Byul Il Ub-sseot-seo-yo

Informal

No, I am fine (without any events/incidents/happenings)

아니, 나는 별일 없었어

An-ni, Na-neun Byul Il Ub-sseot-seo

7. What have you been up to?

Formal

뭐하고 지내셨어요?

Mwo-ha-go Ji-nae-shut-sseo-yo?

Informal

뭐하고 지냈어?

Mwo-ha-go Ji-naet-seo?

how are you in korean

Words to know:

  • (Mwo) = What

Advanced Responses

Formal

I have been learning Korean

저는 한국어를 공부하며 지냈어요

Jal Ji-naet-seo-yo

I have been learning English

저는 영어를 공부하며 지냈어요

Jal Mot Ji-naet-seo-yo

Informal

I have been learning Korean

한국어 공부하며 지냈어

Jal Ji-naet-seo

I have been learning English

영어 공부하며 지냈어

Jal Mot Ji-naet-seo

Words to know:

  • 공부(Gong-bu) = study
  • 하다 – to ~(verb)
  • 공부하다 (Gong-bu-ha-da) = to study

8. Long time no see!

Formal

오랜만이에요

Oh-raen-man-e-eh-yo

Informal

오랜만이야

Oh-raen-man-e-ya

how are you in korean

Words to know:

  • 오랜만 (Oh-raen-man) means ‘after a long time’.
  • 오랜만이에요/오랜만이야 means ‘It’s been a long time (since we haven’t seen each other). It is an expression you use when you are greeting someone you haven’t seen for a long time.

Responses

Formal

Yes, It’s been a long time!

, 오랜만이에요!

Nae, oh-ren-man-e-eh-yo

Informal

Yes, It’s been a long time!

, 오랜만이야

Eung, Oh-ren-man-e-ya

9. I missed you!

You’re right, this is not a literal “How are you in Korean” phrase. But, you would say this when greeting someone, right? And, if you miss them, you do want to know how they are now, right? So, you can use it too.

Anyway, knowing how to say I miss you in Korean is important too.

Formal

보고싶었어요

Bo-go-ship-uh-sseo-yo

Informal

보고싶었어

Bo-go-ship-uh-sseo.

how are you in korean

Words to know:

  • 보고싶다 (Bo-go-sib-da) means ‘I miss you’.

How can you respond if someone tells you they miss you?

Formal

Me too!

저도요!

Jeo-do-yo!

Me too, I missed you!

저도요, 저도 보고싶었어요!

Jeo-do-yo, Jeo-do Bo-go-sip-peu-sseo-yo

Informal

Me too!

나도!

Na-do!

Me too, I missed you!

나도, 나도 보고싶었어!

Na-do, Na-do Bo-go-sip-peu-sseo

Words to know:

  • (Do) that comes after a noun means ‘too/as well’.
  • 저도=Me too/as well (in formal speech)
  • 나도 = Me too/as well (in informal speech)

10. Have you eaten?

This is also not an exact “how are you in Korean” phrase. Seems strange right?

how are you in korean

In Korean culture, it is very common to ask ‘have you eaten?’ as a way of saying ‘how are you?’, usually when greetings are happening around lunch, or dinner time.

Formal

식사 하셨어요?

Sik-sa Ha-shut-uh-yo?

Informal

먹었어?

Bab muk-ut-sseo?

Words to know:

  • (Bab) = Rice/Meal (Informal speech)
  • 식사(Sik-Sa) = Meal (Formal speech)
  • 먹다 = to eat

Let’s answer this question.

Formal

Yes, I have

, 먹었어요

Nae, muk-uht-seo-yo

No, not yet

아니요, 아직이요

Ah-ni-yo, ah-jik-e-yo

Informal

Yes, I have

, 먹었어

muk-uht-seo

No, not yet

아니, 아직

An-ni, ah-jik

Words to know:

  • 아직 (Ah-jik) = Not yet.

Now you are ready to ask people how they are in Korean! 

Plus, you also know how to respond if I ask you how you are.

Leave a comment down below and tell me how you care.

– The Main Junkie

P.S. I highly recommend this for Korean learners. If you REALLY want to learn Korean with effective lessons by real teachers – Sign up for free at KoreanClass101 (click here) and start learning!

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