What are the most useful Korean phrases?
In this quick Korean guide, you’ll learn 19+ useful Korean phrases. Phrases like “hello, I love you , thank you,” and more. Enough to get you started with the Korean language.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. 안녕하세요! Hello!
- Pronunciation: An-nyeong-ha-se-yo
“An-nyeong-ha-se-yo” is the first phrase that learners always learn. A super common Korean greeting. This phrase can be used in a generalized setting; elderly, older people, and people you meet for the first time. You can use the informal way of saying this which is 안녕 (an-nyeong) when you meet your close friends or people you are close with.
2. 감사합니다/고맙습니다 Thank you (formal)
- Pronunciation: Kam-sa-ham-ni-da/ go-map-seum-ni-da
This is the Korean way of saying ‘thank you’. These two mean the same but in just two different ways of saying it. These are the formal ways of saying ‘thank you’ in Korean. You can say any of these two to elderly people or to people whom you’ve just met for the first time to show some respect.
3. 감사해요/고마워요 Thank you (less formal)
- Pronunciation: Kam-sa-hae-yo/ go-ma-wo-yo
This is the lesser formal way of saying ‘thank you’ in Korean. You can say this to people who are not much older than you or to people whom you are close with like your family or relatives.
4. 고마워 Thank you (informal)
- Pronunciation: Go-ma-wo
This is the informal way of saying ‘thank you’ in Korean. You say this to your close friends or people younger than you. You can say this also to kids as they are much younger than you, but I recommend using the lesser formal form (refer to no.3) to them so that they can still adapt the respectful way of saying it even at a young age.
5. 죄송합니다/죄송해요 Sorry (formal)
- Pronunciation: Jwe-song-ham-ni-da/ jwe-song-hae-yo
This is the formal way of saying ‘sorry’ in Korean. This is usually used in a professional setting or formal letters. You can use this with elderly people or people who are much older than you.
Sorry (formal, casual)
- Pronunciation: Mi-yan-ham-ni-da/ mi-yan-hae-yo
This is another way of saying ‘sorry’ in Korean. This is usually a more casual way of saying it. It is still a formal way of apologizing which you can use to your family members or to people who are not that much older than you.
6. 미안해 Sorry (informal)
- Pronunciation: Mi-yan-hae
This is the informal way of saying ‘sorry’ in Korean. You can use this when apologizing to your friends or to people who are younger than you.
7. 잘 먹겠습니다 Thank you for the food (I will eat it well)
- Pronunciation: Jal meok-ge-seum-ni-da
This is the Korean way of giving respect to the food server or to the people who cook the food for you. When food is served, you say ‘잘 먹겠습니다’ which means you are thankful for the food being served.
8. 잘 먹었습니다 Thank you for the food (I ate it well)
- Pronunciation: Jal meo-go-seum-ni-da
While no.8 is used when the food is being served, this one is used when you finished eating your food. After eating, you say ‘잘 먹었습니다’ which shows the satisfaction with the food you ate. It’s a bit confusing because it sounds almost the same as the other one, but you will notice the difference in how it is used and pronounced.
9. …주세요 Please give…
- Pronunciation: Ju-se-yo
This is the Korean way of asking for a favor or asking for something. You say ‘주세요’ which means ‘please give’. So for example, you need water, you can use it by saying ‘물 주세요’ (mul ju-se-yo) because 물 means ‘water’ so it means ‘please give me water’. You can just add the thing that you need at the start of your sentence.
10. …어디예요? Where is…?
- Pronunciation: Eo-di-ye-yo?
This is the Korean way of asking for directions. When you visit Korea for the first time and you want to ask directions from someone, you can ask by saying the place and adding 어디예요?. For example, you can ask by saying ‘화장실 어디예요?’ because 화장실 means ‘toilet/powder room’ so it translates to ‘where is the toilet/powder room?’.
11. 이거 얼마예요? How much is this?
- Pronunciation: Eol-ma-ye-yo?
When you are in the market, shop, or any store, you can use this to ask Koreans how much is the product they are selling. For example, in the market, you can ask ‘이거 얼마예요?’ while pointing to something or while holding a product. 이거 means ‘this’ and 얼마예요 means ‘how much’ so it translates to ‘how much is this?’.
12. 도와주세요 Please help me/Please give me help
- Pronunciation: Do-wa-ju-se-yo
This phrase is used when you are asking for help from someone. It translates to ‘please give me help’ because as you can notice, ‘주세요’ is being used which means ‘please give’ (refer to no.10).
13. 맛있어요! It’s delicious!
- Pronunciation: Ma-shi-sseo-yo!
You can use this to describe very delicious food. You can simply say ‘맛있어요.’ But, if you find the food amazing and you are too overwhelmed by its taste, you can add ‘진짜’ or ‘너무’ which means ‘really.’ So, you can say ‘진짜 맛있어요!’ (jin-jja ma-shi-sseo-yo) or ‘너무 맛있어요’ (neo-mu ma-shi-sseo-yo) which means ‘it’s delicious!’.
14. 맛이겠다! It seems delicious!
- Pronunciation: Ma-shi-get-da!
The next time you see food and it looks delicious on sight alone, you can say ‘맛이겠다!’ This means the food is already mouth-watering just by looking at it.
15. 없어요. There is none/There is no….
- Pronunciation: Eop-seo-yo
This means ‘none’ or ‘there is no’. When you ask for something and the speaker answered ‘없어요’ it means ‘none’. You can also use this by stating something that is gone, like the example, ‘치즈 없어요’ (chi-jeu eop-seo-yo) which means ‘there is no cheese’.
16. 있어요 There is…
- Pronunciation: i-sseo-yo
You can use this by stating something present. For example, ‘우유 있어요’ (u-yu i-sseo-yo) which means ‘there is milk,’ where 우유 means ‘milk’. You can also use this to ask if he/she has that thing you are looking for. For example in a store, you can ask them “큰 사이즈 있어요?” (keun sa-i-jeu i-sseo-yo) which means ‘do you have a bigger size?’ and they can just answer you with yes or no.
17. 네, 아니요 Yes, No
- Pronunciation: Ne, a-ni-yo
This is the Korean way of saying yes and no.
18. 괜찮아요 It’s okay/ It’s alright
- Pronunciation: Gwaen-cha-na-yo
This is the Korean way of saying ‘it’s okay’ or ‘it’s alright’. You can also use this to ask if someone is okay by just converting it to a question ‘괜찮아요?’.
Korean conversations are sometimes as easy as asking the same question and answering with the same question also, hehe.
19. 사랑해요 I love you.
- Pronunciation: Sa-rang-hae-yo
Are you fond of watching Korean dramas? If so, you will usually hear this phrase from the couples who express their love to each other. This is the Korean way of saying ‘I love you’ so by the next time you want to express your love to your Korean idol or favorite Korean actor, you can say ‘사랑해요’.
Now, you know the most useful Korean phrases.
If you want to remember these phrases, print out this page.
If you have a favorite Korean phrase, leave a comment.
If you want to know how to say some other phrase, leave a comment.
I read ’em all.
– The Main Lingua Junkie