Lesson 101: Korean Slang and Abreviations

Click here for a Workbook to go along with this lesson.

Jump to:


Abbreviating Particles: 난, 건, 걸, etc…
Internet Speech (ㅋㅋ, ㅠㅠ, 넘, ㅇ)
얘, 걔 and 쟤




소비자 = consumer
미 = beauty
튀김 = something deep fried
번개(치다)  = lightning
천둥(치다) = thunder
안개 (끼다) = fog
특성 = specific characteristic
특기 = special skills/specialties
접촉사고 = fender bender
해병 = marines
만두 = dumplings
마찬가지 = the same thing

발생하다 = originate from/occurred
차다 = to wear a watch
절약하다 = to try to save something (energy)
남겨주다 = to leave an object (for somebody)
남겨두다 = leave an object (on something)
놔두다 = to leave something

징그럽다 = gross/creepy
달라지다 = change/become different
신선하다 = fresh

Adverbs and Other Words:
대중 = mass (mass transit, etc…)
각종 = all sorts/all types
금연 = no smoking/giving up smoking
실물 = in person/real thing
전국 = whole country
각 = each
각각 = each and every
각자 = each individual
늘 = always



In this lesson, you will learn some common abbreviations that are commonly used in Korean speech (and in writing when speech is represented through quoting). In addition, you will learn the most common internet abbreviations and slang terms that you can use in texts and messaging. Let’s get started!



Abbreviating or Omitting Particles: 난, 건, 걸, etc…

Here in Lesson 101, you are probably aware of most of the content presented in this lesson. However, if you have been studying Korean outside of Korea (and thus, can’t meet Korean people that often) these concepts might be new to you. It is common to abbreviate the particles ~는 or ~를 by attaching just ~ㄴ or ~ㄹ to the word. For example:

나를 can be abbreviated to 날
너를 can be abbreviated to 널
나는 can be abbreviated to 난
너는 can be abbreviated to 넌

It is possible to abbreviate 저는 to 전, but doing this generally is seen as informal – which sometimes means it would be inappropriate.

These types of abbreviates often occur in speech. However, often times the speaker isn’t even making a conscious effort to abbreviate these words. Rather, their pronunciation of “나를” (for example) might sound closer to “날” in a sentence. The most common place you will see these abbreviations is in internet messaging like on Facebook or Kakao (the Korean messaging app). It is also possible to see these used in literature where direct quotes are used. In these cases, authors often try to write in a way that mimics the sound of a real sentence as if it were spoken.

Below are some examples:

난 천둥이 치는 소리를 들었어 = I heard thunder
아버지는 날 위해 돈을 남겨주었어 = Dad left (some) money for me
넌 누구를 기다리고 있니? = Who are you waiting for?
난 널 안고 싶어 = I want to hug you

This abbreviation can technically be done to any noun that ends in a vowel. While this is most commonly done with 나 and 너, it is also very common to do it with “것.”

Remember first that “것” can be shortened to “거” with no difference in meaning. For example:

저는 내일 캐나다에 갈 것이에요 = I am going to Canada tomorrow
저는 내일 캐나다에 갈 거예요 = I am going to Canada tomorrow

저는 맛있는 것을 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat something delicious
저는 맛있는 거를 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat something delicious

~를 or ~는 can be abbreviated to attach directly to “거” just like with 너 or 나:

거 + 를 = 걸
거 + 는 = 건

For example:

저는 맛있는 걸 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat something delicious
이건 얼마예요? = How much is this?
그 걸 하지 마세요 = Don’t do that please!

As I said, this abbreviation rule can technically be done with any word that ends in a vowel. Though you will see (and hear) 난/넌/날/널/걸/건 a lot in Korean, you will find that this is done much less commonly with other nouns. The most common place that you will find these constructions is in texting or other form of internet messaging. For example:

나의 침댄 너무 딱딱해! = My bed is too hard!

It is also quite common to omit these particles completely. Again, doing this is most common in speech or forms of writing that try to mimic speech (like direct quotes in stories or internet messaging). For example:

Instead of saying:
나는 밥을 먹고 싶어 = I want to eat (rice)

It would be common to simply say:
나 밥 먹고 싶어 = I want to eat (rice)

Or, instead of saying:
나는 만두를 먹기 싫어 = I don’t want to eat dumplings

It would be common to simply say:
나 만두 먹기 싫어 = I don’t want to eat dumplings

While we are on the topic of texting and internet messaging, I want to introduce you to other forms of “internet” speech.



Internet Speech (ㅋㅋ, ㅠㅠ, 넘, ㅇ)

If you have ever had a text-conversation with Korean people (especially somebody younger than 25, and especially if it is a female), you will have seen that the grammar and word constructions can be very different than what you are used to. You might be aware of most of these by now, but I have yet to introduce them in any lesson to this point. The following are very common in Korean texts and messaging:

ㅋㅋ = It doesn’t matter how many of these you include in a message, the meaning is like “lol” in English. It stems from the fact that the pronunciation of “ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ” sounds like somebody chuckling. Typically, the more “ㅋ’s” you include, the more you are laughing. This is less commonly represented as “ㅎㅎ….”

ㅠㅠ = Similar to above, it doesn’t matter how many of these you include in a message – although there are usually two of them. The letters represent two eyes with tears pouring out of them – indicating that you are sad. Some people input more than two to emphasize that they are very sad. You can sometimes hear people joking about the pronunciation of these two as “you you,” which would be the pronunciation of “유유.” This is less commonly represented as “ㅜㅜ.”

넘 = This is an abbreviation of 너무. It can be placed in sentences just like “너무,” and some people often include more than one as if to emphasize “very very…” For example:
난 넘넘 배고파! = I’m sooooo hungry!

^^  = This represents a happy face. When Korean people smile, their eyes usually make a half-moon shape, which is what each one of these “^” symbols represent.

낼 = This is an abbreviation of 내일.

꺼 = This is an abbreviation of 것, or 거. Many people pronounce “거” as “꺼” (although, many foreigners have a hard time distinguishing between these two sounds for the first few years of learning). The most common place you would see “꺼” is following the word “내” as “내 꺼” (my thing/mine). For example:
넌 내꺼야! = You’re mine!
그게 내꺼! = That’s mine!

ㅅ instead of ㅆ  = For no real reason, people on the internet will often substitute ㅅ for ㅆ when it is used as the bottom of a syllable. For example, instead of “있어” they will write “잇어”

No spaces  = It is also common to see Korean people write text messages or posts on the internet (more commonly Facebook posts instead of something like a message board) with no spacing between their words. This makes it very difficult for a foreign learner to process, but it usually only takes a second for your brain to realize where one word ends and the next one starts. Here’s an example that I found on one of my Facebook friend’s wall: 응너혼자잘다녀와




This word isn’t necessarily internet speech or slang, but it is quite common in speech in general, and I don’t believe I have formally introduced it yet.

Although common, it takes some time for your brain to realize exactly what it means (and how it can be used) because any definition you see online won’t be able to define exactly what it means. Well, luckily you have me, who has already processed years of information and can (hopefully) regurgitate it into this lesson for you.

The best way to use  “그러니까” is by itself (or before a clause, but separated from it), used after somebody mentions some fact – usually their opinion about something.  By saying “그러니까” the best translation to English is “That’s the thing!” For example:

Person 1: 아~ 김연아가 올림픽 금메달을 못 따는 걸 믿을 수 없어ㅠㅠ
= Ahh… I can’t believe 김연아 didn’t win the gold medal at the Olympics

Person 2: 나도! 그 러시아에서 온 선수가 많이 넘어졌는데 어떻게 이길 수 있어?
= Me too! That skater (athlete) from Russia fell so many times, how could she win?

Person 1: 그러니까! = That’s the thing!


“그러니까” doesn’t have to be by itself. Sometimes it is followed by another clause.
그러니까! 김연아가 러시아 선수보다 훨씬 잘했어~
= That’s the thing! 김연아 did so much better than the Russian skater!

Another example:
데이트가 어땠어? = How was the date?
음~ 괜찮았는데 남자가 조금 못생겼어 ㅠ = Oh… it was okay, but the guy was a little bit ugly
아 진짜? 그 건 안 돼~ 남자랑 사귀려면 남자가 잘생겨야 돼 = Really? That’s not good! If you go out with a boy, he should be handsome
그러니까! = That’s the thing!

When used like this, some people on the internet or on phones change “그러니까” to “그니깡”. It’s good to be aware of, but I don’t suggest you do it unless you are a teenage (or 20-something) girl.

When used connected with an actual clause (and not just used by itself as shown above), you can see it as the meanings of 그렇다 + ~(으)니까. By putting these two together, you get 그러니까 which is similar to “그래서” and means “that is why/that is the reason why…”. For example:

그러니까 에너지를 절약해야지! = That’s why we need to save energy!
그러니까 그것을 만지기 싫어. 너무 징그러워서~ = That’s why I don’t want to touch it. It’s too gross.




The word “그치” is also hard to translate into words. It is often used after one says a statement and is asking the listener to agree with what he/she said. In practice, this is quite similar to the ending ~지/죠 which was introduced in Lesson 93 as it is actually an abbreviation of “그렇지”. For example:

날씨가 너무 덥지? = The weather is very hot, eh? (isn’t it?)
날씨가 너무 더워, 그치?  = The weather is very hot, isn’t it!?

우리가 어제 산 토마토가 엄청 신선하지 = The tomatoes we bought yesterday are fresh, eh?
우리가 어제 산 토마토가 엄청 신선해, 그치? = The tomatoes we bought yesterday are fresh, aren’t they!?

The formal equivalent of 그치 is 그쵸 (abbreviated from 그렇죠). For example:
어젯밤에 번개가 많이 쳤죠? = There was a lot of lightning last night, eh?
어젯밤에 번개가 많이 쳤어요, 그쵸? = There was a lot of lightning last night, wasn’t there?

Here’s an example I pulled off of one of my friend’s Facebook pages:
저사진진짜잘찍엇어그치 = I took that picture well, didn’t I?,
Note that this could be written as:
제가 사진을 진짜 잘 찍었죠?  = I took that picture well, didn’t I?

그치/그쵸 can also be used by itself when the listener of a statement wants to show that he/she agrees with what was just said. Actually, this usage is very similar to the meaning of 그러니까 (when it is also used by itself). For example:

한국피자가 제일 맛있다! = Korean pizza is the most delicious pizza!
그치! = (I agree!)
그러니까! = (That’s the thing!)

Person 1: 한국말을 제대로 배우려면 HowtoStudyKorean웹사이트 레슨을 잘 따라야 돼! = If you want to learn Korean the right way, you should follow the HowtoStudyKorean lessons.
Person 2: 그치! 다른 웹사이트는 문법을 잘 설명하지 않거든! = (I agree!) Because other websites don’t explain grammar that well!
Person 1: 그니깡! = That’s the thing!

Note that using 그치 and 그쵸 are almost exclusively reserved for speaking. The only time you would ever see them written is through some sort of messaging system where the written dialogue is trying to mimic an actual dialogue.






Abbreviations 얘, 걔, 쟤

얘, 걔 and 쟤 are all respective abbreviations of 이 아이, 그 아이 and 저 아이.

The word “아이” (meaning “child” or just a general young person) is typically reserved for people who are actually young (like under 10 years old or younger or something around that range). It would be weird to refer to a 20- or 30-year old person using the word “아이”.

However, the abbreviations 얘, 걔 and 쟤 are all used to refer to many more people than just children. People often use these words to refer to people as “him/her/he/she” amongst friends or when referring to somebody who doesn’t deserve a high level of respect.

For example:
슬기는 방금 나갔어 = Seulgi just left (went out)
걔 어디 갔어? = Where did she go?

쟤가 누구야? = Who is that?
쟤가 우리 선생님의 딸이야 = That (person) is our teacher’s daughter

얘가 내가 전에 말한 친구야 = This is the friend that I was talking about



ㅇ ending

In addition to all of the above, one of the cutest things you can do in Korean (when speaking or writing) is adding ~ㅇ as the 받침 to a word without one. Notice that I say “one of the cutest things.” Young Korean girls will use this form all the time, both in speaking and in writing. When an older person does it (older than about 30 or so), they are most likely doing so as a joke. An older Korean man would sound very funny using this form.
Nonetheless, I (a 28 year old male) use this form all the time when texting and messaging on the internet – for no other reason other than it makes Korean people laugh. I guess it is funny to them to hear a foreigner use this “cute speech.”

This typically isn’t added directly to nouns (although it could sometimes, it is totally up to the speaker), and is more commonly attached after conjugating a verb or adjective. For example:

먹었어 ~ 먹었엉
배고파 ~ 배고팡

Some examples:
난 다 왔엉! = I’m here! (I came the whole way)
내일 안 갈 거양 = I’m not going tomorrow

~ㅇ can also be added after 요 or ~습니다 to conjugate a polite ending in a cute way. Note however that in most situations, using ~ㅇ with formal conjugations would sound ridiculous. The only time this could be done is if using polite speech with your friends as a joke. For example, I could write this to my girlfriend:

내일 맛있는 걸 사 줘용! = Buy me something delicious tomorrow, please!
감사합니당! = Thank you!

I would say that the most common unconjugated word that this ~ㅇ is attached to it “네” (yes).
Saying “넹” would be a cute way to say “yes.”

Alright, that’s enough cuteness for one lesson. In the next lesson, we’re start learning some real Korean grammar again!

Click here for a Workbook to go along with this lesson.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to make a post on our Forum!

Okay, got it! Take me to the next lesson!