Lesson 1: Basic Korean Sentences

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Jump to:
Vocabulary
Greeting Words
Sentence Word Order
Korean Particles
To be: 이다
That thing/This thing
This thing is a book

 

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Vocabulary

The vocabulary is separated into nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for the purpose of simplicity.

Click on the English word to see information and examples of that word in use (you probably won’t be able to understand the grammar within the sentences at this point, but it is good to see as you progress through your learning).

A PDF file neatly presenting these words and extra information can be found here.

Want to give your brain practice at recognizing these words? Try finding the words in this vocabulary list in a Word Search.

Nouns:
한국 = Korea

Common Usages:
한국 사람 = Korean person
한국어 = Korean language (For Korean people, Korean language class is called “국어 (수업)”)
한국인 = Korean person
한국 역사 = Korean history (in school, Korean history class is usually called “한국사 (수업)”)
한국 문화 = Korean culture
한국 경제 = Korean economy
한국 전쟁 = the Korean War
한국주식시장 = Korean stock market
한국어능력시험 = Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK)

Notes: The formal name of the country is 대한민국

Examples
저는 7년 동안 한국에서 살았어요 = I lived in Korea for seven years
저는 내년에 한국에 갈 거예요 = I will go to Korea next year
저의 어머니는 올해 한국에 올 것입니다 = My mom will come to Korea this year
저는 한국어를 한국에서 배웠어요 = I learned Korean in Korea
고등학교는 한국에서 어려워요 = High school is difficult in Korea
그 집은 한국에서 지어졌어요 = that house was built in Korea
저는 한국에서 살고 있어요 = I live in Korea

도시 = city

Common Usages:
대도시 = a large city
신도시 = a new city (usually a city that is planned to serve a specific purpose)
도시가스 = the gas that is used in one’s home (by the heating systems and stoves)
도시남자 = a city boy/man (kind of a “cool” and “cold” style of man)

Example:
서울은 큰 도시예요 = Seoul is a big city
어느 도시에 갈 거예요? = What city are you going to go to?
도시는 분위기가 좋아요 = This city has a good atmosphere
서울 대신에 다른 도시에 갈 거예요? = Other than Seoul, will you go to another city?
강가에는 도시에서 내려온 많은 쓰레기가 쌓여 있어요 = Garbage is piled in the area around the river that comes down from the city

이름 = name

Common Usages
이름이 뭐예요? = What is your name?
제 이름은 __이에요 = My name is__
이름을 개명하다 = to change to one’s name
이름을 쓰다 = to write one’s name
이름을 부르다 = to call one’s name

Examples
그 사람의 이름은 뭐예요? = What is that person’s name?
저의 이름은 김한성이에요 = My name is 김한성
저는 그 사람의 이름이 기억 안 나요 = I can’t remember that person’s name
저는 그의 이름을 불렀어요 = I called his name
덕석은 흔하지 않은 이름이에요 = “덕석” is not a common name
이 길의 이름이 뭐죠? = What is the name of this road/street?
친구 이름을 잊어버려서는 안 돼요 = You shouldn’t forget your friend’s name

= I, me (formal)

Common Usages:
저는 = I
제가 = I
저의 = my

Notes: When used as the subject of a sentence, 저 translates to “I,” when used as the object of a sentence, “저” translates to “me.” For example:

는 그 여자를 사랑해요 = I love that girl
그 여자는 를 사랑해요 = That girl loves me

저 changes to 제 when 이/가 are attached. See Lesson 2 for more information. For example:

제가 한국을 좋아해요 = I like Korea
저는 한국을 좋아해요 = I like Korea

나 is used instead of 저 in informal situations.

Examples
는 친구를 만났어요 = I met a friend
의 친구는 를 만났어요 = My friend met me
는 지난 주에 영화를 봤어요 = I saw a movie last week
는 삼일 동안 밥을 안 먹었어요 = I didn’t eat rice for 3 days

= I, me (informal)

Common Usages:
나는 = I
내가 = I
나의 = my

Notes: When used as the subject of a sentence, 나 translates to “I,” when used as the object of a sentence, “나” translates to “me.” For example:

는 그 여자를 사랑해 = I love that girl
그 여자는 를 사랑해 = That girl loves me

나 changes to 내 when 이/가 are attached. See Lesson 2 for more information. For example:

내가 한국을 좋아해 = I like Korea
나는 한국을 좋아해 = I like Korea

저 is used instead of 나 in formal situations.

Examples
는 친구를 만났어 = I met a friend
의 친구는 를 만났어 = My friend met me
는 내년에 한국에 갈 거야 = I will go to Korea next year
는 사과 한 개를 샀어 = I bought one apple

남자 = man

Common Usages:
잘생긴 남자 = handsome man
강한 남자 = strong man
남자 친구 = boyfriend
도시 남자 = a city boy
남자화장실= men’s bathroom

Examples
그는 잘생긴 남자예요 = He is a handsome man
남자
는 방에 들어왔어요 = That man came into room
저는 잘생긴 남자를 만났어요 = I met a handsome man
저의 친구는 주로 남자예요 = My friends are mostly men
그 남자가 키가 너무 커요 = That man is very tall
어떤 남자는 어제 여기에 왔어 = Some man came here yesterday

여자 = woman

Common Usages
예쁜 여자 = pretty girl
아름다운 여자 = beautiful girl
여자 친구 = girlfriend
여자화장실 = women’s bathroom

Examples
그녀는 예쁜 여자예요 = She is a beautiful girl
여자의 머리 색깔은 자연스러워요 = That girl’s hair color is natural
저의 여자 친구는 귀엽고 예뻐요 = My girlfriend is cute and pretty
저는 그 여자를 사랑해요 = I love that girl

= this

Notes: Certain types of words can be placed before nouns to describe them. For example, adjectives can be placed before nouns to describe them (for example: a pretty girl). 이 is a type of word called a “관형사,” which isn’t an adjective, but is another type of word that can be placed before nouns to describe them. In English, “관형사” translates to a “modifier” or “a determiner.” 이 is placed before nouns within reaching distance to indicate that one is talking about “this” specific thing. For example:

이 사람 = this person

Other examples of determiners in Korean (and English) are:

그 사람 = that person
모든 사람 = all people
어떤 사람 = which person

It is easy to distinguish between a determiner and an adjective in Korean. Although both placed before nouns to “describe” them, the dictionary (ordinary) form of an adjective always ends in ~다 and must change in order to describe them. For example, 예쁘다 changes to 예쁜 when placed before a noun to describe it (See Lesson 3 for more information). Determiners keep their original form when placed before a noun. This might be too much grammar for you at this point, but make a note of it.

Example:
차는 너무 비싸요 = This car is too expensive
방은 넓습니다 = This room is big/wide
저는 영화를 더 이상 보고 싶지 않아요 = I don’t want to watch this movie anymore
고기는 돼지고기입니다 = This meat is pork
사람은 저의 누나예요 = This (person) is my sister

= that

Notes: 그 is another example of a “관형사” in Korean. 그 is placed before nouns that are being referred to from context or a previous sentence. For example, if your father is talking about a specific person, you can refer to “that person” by saying “그 사람.”

Common Usages:
그것 = that thing
그 사람 = that person

See more information about 관형사 in my description of “이” above.

Examples:
남자는 저의 아버지예요 = That man is my father
여자는 나랑 결혼하고 싶었어요 = That girl wanted to marry me
저는 책을 원해요 = I want that book
병원은 멉니다 = That hospital is far
여자의 머리카락은 깁니다 = That girls hair is long

= that (when something is far away)

Notes: 저 is another example of a “관형사” in Korean. 저 is placed before nouns that are far away (not within reach). For example, if you want to refer to the person across the street, you can refer to “that person” by saying “저 사람.”

그 and 저 both translate to “that.” This often causes confusion for English speakers.

Also notice that “저” has more than one meaning. Earlier, you saw that “저” means “I/me.” Welcome to the world of Korean! Where often times one word has more than one meaning.

Common Usages:
저것 = that thing
저 사람 = that person

See more information about 관형사 in my description of “이” above.

Examples:
사람은 누구예요? = Who is that person?
저는 케이크를 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat that cake
바지가 얼마예요? = How much are those pants?
저의 친구는 쪽으로 갔어요 = My friend went that way
학교는 역사적인 건물이에요 = That school is a historical building
다음 버스는 정류장에서 출발할 거예요 = The next bus will depart from that station

= thing

Common Usages
이것 = this thing
저것 = that thing
그것 = that thing
~는 것 principle (see Lesson 26)

Notes: Not only used as a simple noun, but also used as a noun that can be described by full sentences. See Lesson 26 for more information about this.
것 can be shortened to 거. 것이 can be shortened to 게

Examples
저는 비싼 만 좋아해요 = I only like expensive things
을 어떻게 해요? = How do you do that (thing)?
은 뭐야? = What is this (thing)?
은 얼마예요? = How much is this (thing)?

이것 = this (thing)

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “이걷”
이것 is often shortened to 이거 in speech.

Notes: When 이, 그 or 저 are placed before “것,” the result is a compound word. Therefore, when placing “것” after 이, 그 or 저, there should not be a space between the two.

Although it can be translated as “this thing,” 이것 itself is a pronoun and can be simplified to translate to “this.” For more information, see the explanation in Lesson 1.

Common Usages:
이것저것 = this thing and that thing (this and that)

Examples:
이것은 뭐야? = What is this (thing)?
이것은 너무 작은가요? = Is this (thing) too small?
이것은 여권이야 = This (thing) is a passport
이것이 더 좋아요 = This (thing) is better
이것을 보셔요 = Look at this (thing)
이것을 먹어 봐! = Eat this (thing)! (Try eating this (thing)!)
모든 프린터 중에 이것이 제일 싸요 = Among all the printers, this (one) is the cheapest
이것을 다 작성해 주실래요?  = Can you write all of this up for me?
이것은 처음이자 마지막 기회예요 = This is the first and last chance

그것 = that (thing)

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “그걷”
그것 is often shortened to 그거 in speech.

Notes: When 이, 그 or 저 are placed before “것,” the result is a compound word. Therefore, when placing “것” after 이, 그 or 저, there should not be a space between the two.

Although it can be translated as “that thing,” 그것 itself is a pronoun and can be simplified to translate to “that.” For more information, see the explanation in Lesson 1.

Examples:
저는 그것을 손으로 만들었어요 = I built that (thing) with my hands
저는 그것을 지난 번에 배웠어요 = I learned that (thing) last time
저는 그것을 처음부터 끝까지 복습했어요 = I reviewed that (thing) from start to finish
저는 그것을 영어로 할 거예요 = I will say that (thing) in English
저는 그것을 친구한테서 들었어요 = I heard that (thing) from my friend

저것 = that (thing)

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “저걷”
저것 is often shortened to 저거 in speech.

Notes: When 이, 그 or 저 are placed before “것,” the result is a compound word. Therefore, when placing “것” after 이, 그 or 저, there should not be a space between the two.

Although it can be translated as “that thing,” 저것 itself is a pronoun and can be simplified to translate to “that.” For more information, see the explanation in Lesson 1.

Common Usages:
이것저것 = this thing and that thing (this and that)

Examples: 저것은 사과예요 = That (thing) is an apple
우리 아빠는 저것을 싫어할 것 같아 = Dad will probably not like that (thing)
저것
은 사람이 아니라 눈사람이에요 = That (thing) is not a person, it is a snowman

의자 = chair

Common Usages
의자에 앉다 = sit on a chair

Example
그녀는 의자에서 일어났어요 = She rose up from her chair
고양이는 의자 밑에 있다 = The cat is under the chair
의자
는 탁자보다 더 낮아요 = The chair is lower than the table
저는 의자를 앞으로 움직였어요 = I moved my chair forward

탁자 = table

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “탁짜”

Notes: The little table that Korean people use when they sit on the floor to have meals is called a “상.” A kitchen table can be referred to more specifically by saying “식탁.”

Common Usages
탁자 위에 = on top of the table
탁자에 놓다 = to place on a table

Examples
저는 잡지를 탁자 위에 놓을 거예요 = I will put the magazine on the table
펜이 탁자에 놓여 있었어요 = The pen was (laying) on the table
의자는 탁자보다 더 낮아요 = The chair is lower than the table
밖에 나가기 전에 열쇠를 탁자에 두었어요 = Before I went outside, I put the keys on the table
탁자가 너무 낮아요 = This table is too low
병이 탁자에서 떨어졌다 = The bottle fell from the table

선생님 = teacher

Notes: This is often colloquially shortened to “쌤”

선생님 (or 쌤) is often used to broadly refer to anybody in any form of a teaching position, or anybody who works at any position in a school. For example, the maintenance people who work at a school would be referred to as “선생님” within the school.

Common Usages:
교장선생님 = principal
교감선생님 = vice-principal
영어 선생님 = English teacher
중국어 선생님 = Chinese (language) teacher

Examples
저는 선생님이 되고 싶어요 = I want to be a teacher
저는 학교에서 저의 선생님을 항상 봐요 = I always see my teacher at school
저는 선생님이에요 = I am a teacher
저는 어제 선생님을 처음 만났어요 = I met my teacher for the first time yesterday
선생님들은 다 나갔어요 = All the teachers left (went out)
선생님은 학생들과 박물관에 갔다 = The teacher went to the museum with the students
저는 선생님과 함께 공부했어요 = I studied with my teacher
선생님
들은 똑똑해요 = Teachers are smart

침대 = bed

Common usages:
이층침대 = bunk bed
간이침대 = cot
침대에 눕다 = to lay in bed
침대에서 자다 = to sleep in a bed

Examples
애기는 침대에서 자고 있어요 = The baby is sleeping in the bed
저는 침대에 누워 있어요 = I’m lying in bed
저의 사진은 침대 위에 걸려 있어요 = My picture is hanging above my bed
피곤한 사람은 침대에 누워서 잤어요 = The tired person lay on the bed and slept
저는 침대에 잠깐 눕고 싶어요 = I want to lie down in bed for just a second

= house

Common Usages:
집에 가다 = to go home
집값 = the price of houses
우리 집 = our house (this is used more commonly that “my house”)
어린이집 = daycare (literally a “kids house”)
맛집 = a new term used to refer to a “cool” and delicious restaurant
집사람 = wife (older men often use this to refer to their wife)
집을 짓다 = to build a house
집 청소를 하다 = to clean one’s house

Examples
저는 에 돌아갈 거예요 = I am going back (returning) home
값은 비싸지고 있어 = House prices are getting expensive
저는 내일 선생님의 을 방문하겠어요 = I will visit the teacher’s house tomorrow
저는 어제 을 두 번 청소했어요 = I cleaned the house twice yesterday
엄마는 우리를 위해 점심을 에서 만들 거예요 = Mom will make lunch for us at home
우리 엄마는 에 와서 빨리 요리했습니다 = Our/my mom came home and quickly cooked
우리는 에 와서 바로 잤어요 = We came home and went to sleep immediately
에 가지 마! = Don’t go home!
저는 세탁을 에서 할 수 있어요 = I can do laundry at home

= car

Common Usages:
소형차 = small sized car (If you study Hanja, 소 (小) means “small”)
중형차 = mid-sized car (If you study Hanja, 중 (中) means “middle”)
대형차 = large sized car (If you study Hanja,  대 (大) means “large”)
수입차 = foreign (imported) car
국산차 = Korean (domestic) car
차를 운전하다 = to drive a car
차를 타다 = to be riding in a car

Notes: The counter for automobiles is “대”. See Lesson 10 for more information

Example:
우리 아버지는 를 항상 안전하게 운전해요= Our dad always drives his car safely
저는 두 대가 있어요 = I have two cars
어떤 종류의 차를 원해요? = What type of car do you want
는 너무 비싸요 = This car is too expensive
저는 새로운 를 샀어요 = I bought a new car

사람 = person

Common Usages:
한국 사람 = Korean person
캐나다 사람 = Canadian person
유럽 사람 = European person
그 사람 = that person
이 사람 = this person
모든 사람 = all people
대부분(의) 사람 = most people

Notes
The formal version of 사람 is “분”

The counter for people is “명” (informal) or “분” (formal). See Lesson 10 for more information

Examples
사람은 아주 똑똑해요 = That person is very smart
모든 아시아 사람들은 젓가락을 잘 쓴다 = All Asian people use chopsticks well
사람은 미국에서 왔어요 = That person came from the United States
저는 그 사람을 알아요 = I know that person
사람은 저의 동생이에요 = That person is my younger sibling
저는 그 사람을 싫어해요 = I don’t like that person
한국 사람들은 보통 아주 착해요 = Korean people are usually very nice

= book

Common Usages:
책상 = desk
공책 = notebook
책방 = bookstore
책자 = booklet, leaflet
책벌레 = bookworm
책갈피 = bookmark
만화책 = comic book
책을 읽다 = to read a book
책을 반납하다 = to return a book
책을 빌리다 = to borrow a book (usually from a library)

Notes: The word used to count books is “권”

Examples
저는 좋은 을 읽고 싶어요 = I want to read a good book
저는 그것에 대해 을 쓸 거예요 = I will write a book about it
저는 친구에게 을 돌려줬어요 = I gave my friend back his book
저는 두 권을 읽었어요 = I read two books
저는 그 을 읽고 싶어요 = I want to read that book
그 학생은 하루 종일 을 독서할 수 있어요 = That student can read books all day
이 박스에 이 들어가 있어요 = There are books in this box
저는 누워서 을 읽었어요 = I lied down and read a book

컴퓨터 = computer

Notes
Many new Korean words are simply English words with a Korean pronunciation pronouncing “컴퓨터” in Korean will sound like “computer”

Common Usages:
컴퓨터를 켜다 = turn on a computer
컴퓨터를 끄다 = turn off a computer
컴퓨터가 고장 났다 = for a computer to be broken

Examples: 컴퓨터가 꺼져 있어요 = The computer is turned off
저는 컴퓨터를 켰어요 = I turned the computer on
컴퓨터가 켜져 있어요 = The computer is (in the state of being) on
그는 고장 난 컴퓨터를 수리했어요 = He repaired the broken computer
교실에서 선생님들을 컴퓨터로 대체할 수 없어요 = You can’t replace teachers with computers in the classroom

나무 = tree/wood

Common Usages:
소나무 = pine tree
대나무 = bamboo
단풍나무 = maple tree
나무뿌리 = root of a tree
나무를 심다 = to plant a tree

Examples
저는 집을 나무로 지었어요 = I made a house out of wood
나는 우리 집을 나무로 지었어 = I built our house out of wood
대부분의 원숭이는 나무에서 살아요 = Most monkeys live in trees
아이들은 나무 주위에서 놀고 있어요 = The children are playing around the tree

소파 = sofa

Notes: Many new Korean words are simply English words with a Korean pronunciation pronouncing “소파” in Korean will sound like “sofa.” Note that there is no way to pronounce the “F” sound in Korean. English words with an “F” that are borrowed to Korean usually use “ㅍ” to make the “F” sound.

Example
그는 소파에 앉아 있어요 = He is sitting on the couch
소파는 아주 편해요 = This sofa is very comfortable
애기는 높은 소파에서 떨어졌어요 = The baby fell from the high sofa

중국 = China

Common Usages
중국인 = Chinese person
중국 사람 = Chinese person
중국어 = Chinese language

Example:
우리는 곧 중국에 갈 거예요 = We are going to China soon
그 사람은 중국에서 왔어요 = That person came from China
그 사람은 중국인이에요 = That person is Chinese
중국
사람들은 한국사람들보다 더 가난해요 = Chinese people are poorer than Korean people
한국 사람과 중국 사람은 문화적으로 달라요 = Korean and Chinese people are culturally different
한국에는 황사가 중국에서 봄마다 와요 = Yellow dust comes to Korea ever spring from China
중국
사람들은 소금을 쓰는 것 대신에 음식에 간장을 뿌려요 = Instead of using salt, Chinese people put soy sauce on their food

일본 = Japan

Common Usages
일본 사람 = Japanese Person
일본어 = Japanese language

Example
그 사람은 일본에서 왔어요 = That person is from Japan
일본
은 전쟁에서 한국을 공격했어요 = Japan attacked Korea in the war
저는 일본에 스무 번 넘게 가 봤어요 = I’ve been to Japan more than twenty times

요즘에 한국 사람들은 일본에 별로 가고 싶지 않아요
= These days, Korean people don’t really want to go to Japan

한국 집값은 일본 집값보다 훨씬 높아요
= The price of Korean houses is much higher than the price of houses in Japan

일본에서 성인들은 미국 청소년보다 만화책을 더 많이 읽어요
= In Japan, adults read more comic books than young people in America

= door

Notes: On the subway, you will hear “내리실 문은 왼쪽/오른쪽이에요” – “The doors are on your left/right.”

On the bus, you will see signs saying “문이 완전히 열릴 때까지 버스에서 내리거나 문에 기대지 마세요” – “Until the door is fully/completely open, don’t get off the bus or lean on the door”

Common Usages:
창문 = window
정문 = main entrance
뒷문 = back door
앞문 = front door
동대문 = “east big gate” – tourist attraction and neighborhood in Seoul
남대문 = “south big gate” – tourist attraction and market in Seoul
서대문 = “west big gate” – tourist attraction and neighborhood in Seoul

Example
을 닫아야 돼요 = You have to close the door
저는 을 잠갔어요 = I locked the door
저는 을 열 거예요 = I will open the door
너무 추워서 을 닫았어요 = I closed the door because it is too cold
이 완전히 열릴 때까지 버스에서 내리거나 문에 기대지 마세요 = Until the door is fully/completely open, don’t get off the bus or lean on the door

의사 = doctor

Notes: Korean people don’t refer to people with a Ph.D. as “doctor.” Instead, they use the term “박사(님).”

Common Usages:
한의사 = Korean/oriental doctor
외과의사 = surgeon
치과의사 = dentist
정형외과의사 = orthopedic doctor
내과의사 = internal medicine doctor
정신과의사 = psychiatrist
비뇨기과의사 = urologist
산부인과의사 = gynecologist

Examples
저는 의사가 무서워요 = I am afraid of doctors
의사
들은 돈이 많아요 = doctors have a lot of money
저의 친구는 의사예요 = My friend is a doctor
의사
들은 문제에 대해 과학적으로 생각했어요 = The doctors thought about the problem scientifically
저는 정신과의사가 되려고 열심히 공부하고 있어요 = I am studying hard to become a psychiatrist

학생 = student

Common Usages:
학생증 = student ID
학생회 = student council
대학생 = university student
초등학생 = elementary school student
중학생 = middle school student
고등학생 = high school student
교환학생 = foreign exchange student

Examples
저는 좋은 학생이에요 = I am a good student
저는 학생이 아니에요 = I am not a student
선생님은 내일 학생들을 만날 거야 = The teacher will meet the students tomorrow
저는 학생들이 실망스러웠어요 = I was disappointed in the students
저는 학생들에게 수업을 가르쳤어요 = I taught the class to the students
선생님은 학생들과 박물관에 갔다 = The teacher went to the museum with the students

Adverbs and Other words:
이다 = to be

This is the first time you are being introduced to a word that must be conjugated in order to be used. Visit Lesson 5 for more information. Any word that ends in “” must be conjugated to be used. The conjugation of 이다 is different than other words. I introduce all of these conjugations in Lesson 9.

Common usages
제 이름은 __이에요 (My name is __)
이름이 뭐예요? (What is your name?)
저는 ____이에요 = I am a ______

Notes
“to be” can be many words in English. For example, I am, he is, they are, I was, they were. 이다 acts as all of these words.

Examples:
저는 예쁜 여자예요 = I am a beautiful girl
저 건물은 학교입니다 = That building is a school
그것은 사진이에요 = That thing is a picture
이 사람은 저의 누나예요 = This (person) is my sister
그것은 큰 비밀이었어요 = That was a big secret
저는 의사였어요 = I was a doctor

= not

Notes
안 is placed before a verb or adjective to turn it into a negative word. The meaning is synonymous to ~지 않다. Visit Lesson 8 for more information.

Examples
그 여자는 아름다워요 = That girl is not beautiful
저는 마지막 것을 봤어요 = I didn’t see the last thing
아침식사를 먹었어요 = I didn’t eat breakfast
저는 술을 마시고 싶어요 = I don’t want to drink alcohol
방학 동안 집에 갔습니까? = You didn’t go home during vacation?
소금을 많이 먹는 것은 건강에 좋아요 = It is not healthy to eat a lot of salt

= yes

Notes: Informally, you can say “응” to mean “yes”

When speaking on the phone, Korean people often say this many times and pronounce it as “데”

Example
, 저는 가고 싶어요 = Yes, I want to go
, 알겠습니다 = Yes, okay. (I got it)
, 그렇습니다 = Yes, that is correct (that is the way it is)
, 그럴게요 = Yes/Okay, I will do that if that’s what you want
, 갔다 올게요 = Yes/Okay, I will go, and then come back

아니 = no

Notes
In formal situations, “아니요” is more respectful

Example
아니요, 안 했어요 = No, I didn’t do it

Person 1: 숙소비가 얼마예요? 10만원? = How much is the lodging fee? 100,000 won?
Person 2: 아니요. 10만원 조금 넘어요 = No. A little more than 100,000 won

There are 1050 vocabulary entries in Unit 1. All entries are linked to an audio file. You can download all of these files in one package here.

For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.

 

Greeting Words

When learning a language, people always want to learn “hello,”  “how are you,” and “thank you” before anything else. I know that. However, at this stage you only know words – and have no knowledge or experience in how to use or conjugate these words. The grammar within these words is too complex for you to understand right now. However, you can just memorize these words as one unit and not worry about the grammar within them at this point.

안녕하세요 = hello

감사하다 and 고맙다 are the two words that are commonly used to say “thank you.” However, they are rarely used in those forms and are almost always conjugated. They can be conjugated in a variety of ways, which you won’t learn until Lesson 5 and Lesson 6. I will show you a list of the more commonly used forms, but I can’t stress enough that you won’t understand how this works until later lessons:

감사합니다
감사해요

고마워
고맙습니다
고마워요

잘 지내세요?  = How are you?
Technically the appropriate expression in Korean, but not as common as “how are you” in English. I would say that using “잘 지내세요?” is an English style of greeting people in Korean.

제발 = Please

It is, of course, important for you to memorize these expressions in Korean, but you need to know that there is a reason why they are said that way. For now, don’t worry about why they are said that way, and simply memorize them. We will get back to them in  later lessons when they become important.

 

 

Sentence Word Order

One of the hardest things to wrap your head around in Korean is the alien-like sentence structure. For our purposes in Lesson 1, Korean sentences are written in the following order:

Subject – Object – Verb (for example: I hamburger eat)
Or
Subject – Adjective (for example: I beautiful)

I am going to quickly explain what a “subject” and “object” mean, as your ability to understand later concepts depends on your understanding of this.
The subject refers to person/thing/noun/whatever that is acting. The subject does the action of the verb. For example, the subject in each sentence below is underlined:

I went to the park
I will go to the park
My mom loves me
He loves me
The dog ran fast
The clouds cleared up
In English, the subject always comes before the verb.

The object refers to whatever the verb is acting on. For example, the object in each sentence below is underlined

My mom loves me
The dog bit the mailman
He ate rice
Students studied Korean
In English, the object always comes after the verb. However, a sentence with a verb does not require an object. For example:

I slept
I ate
He died

Sometimes there is no object because it has simply been omitted from the sentence. For example, “I ate” or “I ate rice” are both correct sentences. Other verbs, by their nature, cannot act on an object. For example, you cannot place an object after the verbs “sleep” or “die:”

I sleep you
I die you

Subjects are also present in sentences with adjectives. However, there is no object in a sentence with an adjective. The subjects are underlined in the following adjective-sentences below:

School is boring
I am boring
The movie was funny
The building is big
My girlfriend is pretty
The food is delicious

It is incredibly important that you understand this from the very beginning. Every Korean sentence MUST end in either a verb (like eat, sleep or walk) or an adjective (like beautiful, pretty, and delicious). This rule is so important that I’m going to say it again: Every Korean sentence MUST end in either a verb or adjective.

It is also important to point out here that there are two ways to say “I” or “me” in Korean. Depending on how polite you need to be speaking, many things within a sentence (mostly the conjugation) can change. You won’t learn about the different honorific conjugations until Lesson 6, so you do not need to worry about understanding those until then. However, before you reach those lessons, you will see two different words for “I,” which are:

나, used in informal sentences, and
저, used in formal sentences.

As Lessons 1 – 5 make no distinction of formality, you will see both 나 and 저 arbitrarily used. Don’t worry about why one is used over the other until Lesson 6, when politeness will be explained.

Okay, now that you know all of that, we can talk about making Korean sentences.

.

 

Korean Particles (~는/은 and ~를/을)

Most words in a Korean sentence have a particle (a fancy word to say ‘something’) attached to them. These particles indicate the role of each word in a sentence – that is, specifically which word is the subject or object. Note that there is absolutely no way of translating these particles to English, as we do not use anything like them.
The following are the particles you should know for this lesson:

는 or 은 (Subject)
This is placed after a word to indicate that it is the subject of a sentence.
Use 는 when the last letter of the last syllable of the subject is a vowel. For example:
나 = 나는
저 = 저는

Use 은 when the last letter of the last syllable of the subject is a consonant. For example:
집 = 집은
책 = 책은

를 or 을 (Object)
This is placed after a word to indicate that is the object of a sentence.
Use 를 when the last letter of the last syllable is a vowel. For example:
나 = 나를
저 = 저를

Use을 when the last letter of the last syllable is a consonant. For example:
집 = 집을
책 = 책을

We can now make sentences using the Korean sentence structure and the Korean particles.

1) I speak Korean = I는 Korean을 speak
는 is attached to “I” (the subject)
을 is attached to “Korean” (the object)

2) I like you = I는 you를 like
는 is attached to “I” (the subject)
를 is attached to “you” (the object)

3) I wrote a letter = I는 letter을 wrote
는 is attached to “I” (the subject)
을 is attached to “letter” (the object)

4) I opened the door = I는 door을 opened
는 is attached to “I” (the subject)
을 is attached to “the door” (the object)

5) My mom will make pasta = My mom은 pasta를 will make
은 is attached to “my mom” (the subject)
를 is attached to “pasta” (the object)

I am sure that you will be tempted to start substituting Korean words into those constructions to make real Korean sentences. However, at this point, that is too complicated. The goal of this lesson is to familiarize yourself with the structure of Korean sentences.

The same could be done for sentences with adjectives. However, remember that sentences with adjectives will not have an object:

1) My girlfriend is pretty: My girlfriend은 is pretty
:”은” is attached to “my girlfriend” (the subject)

2) The movie was scary = The movie는 was scary
:”는” is attached to “the movie” (the subject)

There is one more particle that you should be aware of before we go any further.

 

에 (Place or time)
We haven’t talked about places or times yet, but if you do an action at a time, you must attach the particle “에” to the word indicating the time.
“에” is also attached to a word to indicate that it is a place in the sentence. I want to write more about what “에” does, but at this point, it would only confuse you. For now, it is sufficient to know that “에” is used to indicate a place in a sentence.
Again, it is hard to translate these particles into English, but, “에” plays the role of the underlined words in the following sentences:

1) I went at 3pm
2) I went to the park

Sentences with a place/time can also have an object in them. For example:

3) I ate hamburgers at 3pm

If I were to write those same sentence using Korean structure and particles, they would look like this:

1) I는 3pm에 went
2) I는 park에 went

3) I는 hamburgers을 3pm에 ate
In these cases, “at 3pm” or “to the park” act as adverbs (a word that tells you when, where, how, how much). There is no set place for an adverb within a sentence, and it can generally be placed anywhere (except the end). Adverbs will be discussed at length in Lesson 8.

Again, the purpose of this first part of Lesson 1 was to familiarize yourself with the different Korean particles and sentence structure. This knowledge will act as your base for upcoming lessons when you will apply yourself to make actual sentences with verbs/adjectives in Korean. While you will have to wait a little bit to create those types of sentences, we can now talk about creating actual Korean sentences with the word “to be.”

 

To be: 이다

Now its time to learn how to make an actual sentence using the word ‘to be.’ English speakers often don’t realize how difficult this word is in English. Look at the following examples:

I am a man
He is a man
They are men
I was a man
They were men

In each of those sentences, the word ‘to be’ is represented by a different word (is/am/are/was/were) depending on the subject and tense of the sentence. Luckily, in Korean, the same word is used to represent is, am, are, was and were. This word is 이다

이다 should not be thought of as a verb or an adjective in Korean, as in most cases it acts differently. I will teach you how 이다 differs from verbs and adjectives as it becomes important (in future lessons).

Sometimes however, 이다 is somewhat similar to adjectives. Remember that sentences ending with adjectives do not have objects in them. Whenever a sentence is predicated by an adjective, there will be no object in the sentence. Only sentences with verbs have objects. Let’s look at some examples:

I eat hamburgers (eat is a verb, the object is a hamburger)
I meet my friend (meet is a verb, the object is my friend)
I study Korean (study is a verb, the object is Korean)
I listen to music (listen is a verb, the object is music)

All of those sentences (can) have objects because the verb is the predicate of the sentence. However, in sentences that are predicated by adjectives:

I am pretty
I am beautiful
I am hungry
I am smart

This means that we can never use the particle ~을/를 in a sentence predicated by an adjective (because ~을/를 denotes that there is an object). The object particle is also not used when using the word “이다.” The basic structure for a sentence predicated by “이다” is:

[noun은/는] [another noun] [이다]

For example:
I는 man이다 = I am a man

Now substitute the words for “man” and “I:”

나 = I
남자 = man

나는 + 남자 + 이다

이다 gets attached directly to the noun. So, the above construction looks like:

나는 남자이다 = I am a man

It is very important that you remember that ~를/을 is not attached to words in sentences with “이다.” The following would be very incorrect:

나는 남자를 이다.

이다 is the only word that acts like this, and is one of the reasons why you should treat it differently than other verbs or adjectives.


The focus of this lesson (and Lessons 2 and 3) is to introduce you to simple Korean sentence structure. Until you reach Lesson 5 and Lesson 6 you will not be exposed to the conjugations and honorifics of Korean verbs, adjectives and 이다.

In reality, these words are never (or very very rarely) used without these conjugations and honorifics. Therefore, while I stress the importance of understanding the structure of the sentences presented in this Lessons 1, 2, 3 and 4 do not use the sentences in any form of communication with Korean people, as they will most likely not be understood. In order to completely understand what is presented in Lessons 5 and 6 (and for the rest of your Korean studies), it is essential that you understand what is presented in these first four lessons – even though they may be seen as “technically incorrect.”

For all of the “technically incorrect” (un-conjugated) sentences presented in Lesson 1 – 4 I will provide a correct (conjugated) version of the same sentence in parenthesis below the un-conjugated version (one formal and one informal conjugation). Note one more time that you will not understand these conjugations until Lessons 5 and 6 (for verbs and adjectives) and Lesson 9 (for 이다).


Other examples of 이다 in use:

나는 여자이다 = I am a woman
(나는 여자야 / 저는 여자예요)

나는 선생님이다 = I am a teacher
(나는 선생님이야 / 저는 선생님이에요)

나는 사람이다 = I am a person
(나는 사람이야 / 저는 사람이에요)

나는 ______이다 = I am a _______
(나는 _______ 이야 / 저는 _____이에요)
You can substitute any noun into the blank space to make these sentences.

 

This and That (이/그/저)

You can see in the vocabulary above that the word for “this” is 이 in Korean.
We use 이 in Korean when we are talking about something that is within touching distance (For example: this pen – i.e. the one I am holding). Just like in English “이” (this) is placed before the noun it is describing. For example:

이 사람 = This person
이 남자 = This man
이 여자 = This woman
이 차 = This car
이 탁자 = This table
이 의자 = This chair

Unfortunately, there are two words for “that”: 그 and 저. Early learners of Korean are always confused with the difference between “그” and “저.”

We use 그 when we are talking about something from a previous sentence or from previous context, regardless of if you could see it or not. Providing examples would be too difficult right now because you do not know any Korean sentences. However, if I were to say: “I don’t like that man [when your friend mentioned him in a previous sentence].” The word “that” in that sentence would be how “그” is used.

We use 저 when we are talking about something that we can see, but cannot touch because it is too far away.

We can place “그” or “저” before a noun to describe “this” or “that” thing just like we did with “이.”

이 사람 = This person
그 사람 = That person
저 사람 = That person

이 남자 = This man
그 남자 = That man
저 남자 = That man

이 여자 = This woman
그 여자 = That woman
저 여자 = That woman

이 의자 = This chair
그 의자 = That chair
저 의자 = That chair

이 탁자 = This table
그 탁자 = That table
저 탁자 = That table

Again, although the English translations of “” and “” are the same, it is important to remember that they are not the same word in Korean.

One of the most common words in Korean is “것” meaning “thing.” When 이, 그 or 저 are placed before “것,” the result is a compound word. Therefore, when placing “것” after 이, 그 or 저, there should not be a space between the two. In other words, the following are words in and within themselves, and not two separate words:

이것 = this thing
그것 = that thing
저것 = that thing

We see this same phenomenon happen with other common words that you learn in future lessons. You don’t need to worry about this now, but we see this same thing happen with the word (meaning “place”) and (meaning “time”).

With these words, the word “thing” isn’t necessary in the English translation. Let me explain.

I’ll use “that” as an example, but the same idea can be applied to the word “this.”

“That” can be placed before a noun to describe it. As we saw earlier:

That person
That man
That woman

However, it can also be a noun itself. For example:

I like that

In this type of English sentence, “that” is referring to some thing that you like. It is a noun. It is a thing.

Therefore, the sentence could just as easily be said as:

I like that thing

I don’t like to use grammatical jargon in my lessons, but if you know what these words mean, it could be helpful. In both English and Korean, “that” can be a determiner (as in, “I like that man”), and it can also be a pronoun (as in “I like that”). When used as a determiner in Korean, you should place 그 before a noun. When used as a pronoun in Korean, the word 그것 is used.

In this same respect, while “이, 그 and 저” translate to “this, that and that” respectively, and are placed before nouns to indicate “this noun, that noun and that noun,” “이것, 그것 and 저것” are nouns (they are pronouns). Therefore, they do not need to be followed by the redundant word “thing,” although their meanings would be exactly the same:

I like this
I like this thing

I like that
I like that thing

We can now use these nouns as subjects or objects in a sentence. We will look at how they can be used with “이다” next.

 

Using This/That with 이다

Remember, 이다 translates to “to be” and is conjugated as “am/is/are” in English. Now that we know how to use 이, 그 and 저 (and 이것, 그것 and 저것), we can now make sentences like this:

That person is a doctor

We can start by putting those words into the Korean structure:

That person는 doctor is

And then changing the English words to the appropriate Korean words:

그 사람은 +  의사 + 이다
그 사람은 의사이다
(그 사람은 의사야 / 그 사람은 의사예요)

More examples:
그 사람은 선생님이다 = That person is a teacher
(그 사람은 선생님이야 / 그 사람은 선생님이에요)

이것은 탁자이다 = This (thing) is a table
(이것은 탁자야 / 이것은 탁자예요)

저것은 침대이다 = That (thing) is a bed
(저것은 침대야 / 저것은 침대예요)

그 사람은 남자이다 = That person is a man
(그 사람은 남자야 / 그 사람은 남자예요)

그 사람은 여자이다 = That person is a woman
(그 사람은 여자야 / 그 사람은 여자예요)

그것은 차이다 = That (thing) is a car
(그것은 차야 / 그것은 차예요)

이것은 나무이다 = This (thing) is a tree
(이것은 나무야 / 이것은 나무예요)

There are 1250 example sentences in Unit 1. All entries are linked to an audio file. You can download all of these files in one package here.

Wow! That was an extremely difficult lesson. If you were to pick up another Korean text book, I am sure the first chapter would be much easier than this. Trust me though; learning this at the start will be very useful to you later on. When I was learning how to speak Korean, it took me months to realize some of these things (not because they were hard, but because I was using a text book that never taught me the reason why things are the way they are in Korean).

Before you move on, make sure you understand the simple Korean sentence structure presented in this first lesson. Also, remember that the sentences not in parentheses are technically incorrect (or very very uncommon) because they have not been conjugated.

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