Lesson 21: Asking Questions in Korean: Why, When, Where, Who

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Vocabulary

Asking Questions in Korean
~습니까
~니
~은/ㄴ가(요)
~나(요)

Using Question Words
Why (왜)
When (언제)
Where (어디)
Who (누구)

 

Vocabulary

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.

Nouns:
소식 = news

Common Usages:
소식을 듣다 = to hear news
좋은 소식 = good news
나쁜 소식 = bad news

Notes: This word does not mean the “news” that you see on TV. Rather, it is the word to describe a piece of information, that we often call “news” in English.

Example:
나쁜 소식이 있어요 = There is some bad news
좋은 소식을 들었어요? = Did you hear the good news?

엄마 = mom

Notes: This is a shortened form of the word “어머니”

Example:
엄마도 올 거야? = Will mom come too?
저의 엄마는 고양이가 있어요 = Mom has a cat
엄마는 우리를 위해 점심을 집에서 만들 거예요 = Mom will make lunch for us at home
아들은 엄마를 위해 박스를 들었어요 = The son carried the box for his mother
저는 엄마랑 밥을 먹으러 갔어요 = I went to go eat with (my) mom

아빠 = dad

Notes: This is a shortened form of the word “아버지”

Example:
우리 아빠가 최고예요 = Our/my dad is the best!
저는 아빠의 죽음을 잊지 않았어요 = I didn’t forget the death of my father
우리 아빠는 저것을 싫어할 것 같아 = Dad will probably not like that
아빠가 돈을 이미 냈을 것 같아요 = Dad probably already paid
아빠가 낚시하러 갔어요? = Did dad go fishing?

결혼식 = wedding

Common Usages:
결혼식을 치르다 = to hold a wedding ceremony
결혼식을 하다 = to hold a wedding ceremony

Notes: Usually, by adding 식 to the end of a noun in Korean, the noun turns into some sort of a ceremony. 결혼 + 식 = marriage ceremony (wedding).

Example:
결혼식은 언제예요? = When is the wedding?
저는 그들에게 결혼식에 갈 거냐고 물어봤어요 = I asked if they were going to the wedding

우표 = postage stamp

Common Usages:
편지에 우표를 붙이다 = to put a stamp on a letter
우표를 모으다/수집하다 = to collect stamps

Example:
저는 어렸을 때부터 우표를 모았어요 = I have collected stamps ever since I was young

= god

Common Usages:
식신 = eating god – somebody who eats a lot
신을 믿다 = to believe in god

Example:
옛날에 그리스인들은 여러 가지의 을 믿었어요 = A long time ago, Greek people believed in a variety of gods

만화 = comics, cartoons

Common Usages:
만화책 = comic book
만화영화 = animated movie

Example:
아이들은 만화영화를 매우 좋아해요 = Children really like animated movies

만화책 = comic book

Example:
만화책을 좋아합니까? = Do you like comic books?
만화책을 왜 좋아합니까? = Why do you like comic books?
일본에서 성인들은 미국 청소년보다 만화책을 더 많이 읽어요 = In Japan, adults read more comic books than kids do in America

예정 = schedule

Common Usages:
~ㄹ/을 예정 = to be scheduled to do something (see Lesson 50 for more information)
예정 대로 = as scheduled, according to schedule

Example:
우리가 내일 도착할 예정이에요 = We are scheduled to arrive tomorrow
저는 내일의 예정을 바꿨어요 = I changed tomorrow’s schedule

코딱지 = booger, a small amount of something

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “코딱찌”

Common Usages:
코딱지만큼 = an idiom to say something is really small, for example:
아빠가 코딱지만큼 먹었어요 = Dad only ate a little bit!

Example:
코딱지를 먹지 마세요! = Don’t eat your boogers!
아주머니는 저한테 고기를 코딱지만큼 줬어요 = The lady only gave me a small amount of meat

= rice paddy

Common Usages:
논을 갈다 = to plow a rice paddy

Example:
한국에서 이 진짜 예뻐요 = Rice paddies in Korea are really beautiful

낮잠 (자다) = nap

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “낟짬”

Common Usages:
낮잠을 자다 = to take a nap

Example:
나는 오늘 오후에 낮잠을 잤어 = I took a nap in the afternoon today

의견 = opinion, feedback

Common Usages:
의견을 내다 = to give an opinion
의견을 존중하다 = to respect an opinion
의견을 구하다 = to ask for an opinion

Example:
저는 의견을 말할 기회가 아직 없어요 = I still haven’t had a chance to say my opinion

수입 = income

Notes: Another meaning of this word is “import”

Example:
작년에 우리 회사의 수입은 200만원이었어요 = Our company’s income last year was 200만 won

Verbs:
축복하다 = to bless

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “축뽀카다”

Common Usages:
축복을 받다 = to receive blessings, be blessed

Example:
목사님은 애기를 축복했어요 = The reverend blessed the baby

사라지다 = to disappear

Common Usages:
자국 없이 사라지다 = to disappear without a trace
걱정이 사라지다 = for worries to disappear
눈앞에서 사라지다 = to disappear in-front of one’s eyes

Example:
부부는 어둠으로 사라졌어요 = The couple disappeared into the darkness
저의 돈을 훔치고 범죄자들은 어둠으로 사라졌어요 = The criminals disappeared into the darkness after stealing my money

졸업하다 = to graduate

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “조러파다”

Common Usages:
졸업생 = a graduate
졸업식 = a graduation ceremony

Example:
어느 대학교를 졸업했어요? = Which university did you graduate from?
졸업을 언제 했어요? = When did you graduate?
저는 10년 전에 서울대학교를 졸업했어요 = I graduated from Seoul University 10 years ago

입원하다 = to check into a hospital

Notes: This often translates to “enter a hospital,” but it actually used to say that one enters a hospital, and then gets admitted. You would not use this word if you enter a hospital to visit somebody or to do some other task there.

Example:
할머니는 어제 아파서 입원했어요 = Grandma checked into the hospital yesterday because she was sick

퇴원하다 = to check out of a hospital

Notes: The opposite of 입원하다, this is not used to indicate that you leave a hospital. It is used when somebody has completed their treatment and is okay to leave the hospital.

Example:
언제 퇴원할 수 있어요? = When will you be able to leave the hospital?

이기다 = to win

Notes: In English the words “beat” and “win” are slightly different. However, in Korean, 이기다 is used for both of these words.

Example:
우리는 다른 팀을 농구경기에서 이겼어요 = We beat the other team in the basketball game
우리는 3대 2로 경기를 이겼어요 = We won the game 3 to 2
우리는 좋은 공격으로 그 팀을 이겼어요 = We beat that team using good offense
저는 형이랑 싸움에서 이겼어요 = I won in a fight with my brother

지다 = to lose

Example:
우리는 결국 마지막 경기에서 졌어요 = We ended up losing in the last game

후회하다 = to regret

Common Usages:
후회 없이 = without regrets
행동을 후회하다 = to regret an action

Example:
저는 그것을 말한 것을 후회해요 = I regret saying that
그는 자기 차를 팔고 후회했어요 = He regrets selling his car

타다 = to ride

Common Usages:
버스를 타다 = to get on/ride a bus
전철을 타다 = to get on/ride a subway/train
엘리베이터를 타다 = to get on/ride an elevator

Notes: 타다 is another one of those verbs that has so many meanings depending on the situation. One of the most common meanings, however, is to “ride.” It can be used in a wide variety of situations where you are on something that is moving (boat, horse, taxi, subway, elevator, bus)

저는 서울역에서 버스를 탔어요 = I got on the bus at Seoul station
나는 벌써 지하철을 타고 있어 = I am already riding the subway

Adjectives:
즐겁다 = to be pleasant

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “즐겁따”

즐겁다 follows the ㅂ irregular

Common Usages:
즐겁게 = pleasantly

Example:
날씨가 좋아서 산책하는 것은 즐거워요 = It is pleasant go to for a walk because the weather is so nice

부족하다 = to not be enough, to be lacking

Common Usages:
돈이 부족하다 = to be short of money
시간이 부족하다 = to be short on time

Example: 시간이 부족해서 모든 내용을 가르칠 수 없어요 = I can’t teach all the material because there is a lack of time
돈이 부족해서 그것을 살 수 있는지 없는지 모르겠어요 = I don’t know if I can buy that or not because I don’t have enough money
시간이 부족해서 우리는 계획을 변경해야 돼요 = We need to change the plans because of the lack of time

간단하다 = to be simple

Common Usages:
간단히, 간단하게 = simply

Example:
저는 학생들한테 그것을 간단히 설명했어요 = I explained it simply to the students

Adverbs and Other Words:
누구 = who

Notes: When used as the subject of a sentence, 누구 changes to 누가

너는 내일 한국어를 공부할 거야 = You will study Korean tomorrow
너는 내일 한국어를 공부할 거야? = Will you study Korean tomorrow?
누가 내일 한국어를 공부할 거야? = Who will study Korean tomorrow?

= why

Example:
만화책을 좋아합니까? = Why do you like comic books?
한국어를 공부하고 있어요? = Why are you studying Korean?
너무 빨리 먹었어요? = Why did you eat so fast?
어제 학교에 안 갔어요? = Why didn’t you go to school yesterday?

언제 = when

As an adverb, 언제 can be used to ask “when” something happens. For example:

집에 언제 갔어? = When did you go home?
집에 언제 갈 거야? = When will you go home?
그 여자가 언제 사라졌어요? = When did that girl disappear?
낮잠을 언제 잤어요? = When did you take a nap?
아빠가 언제 왔나요? = When did dad come?

Particles like ~부터 and ~까지, which are often used to indicate from/until when something happens can be attached to 언제 to indicate that it is unknown “from/until when” something happens. For example:

언제부터 아팠어요? = Since when have you been sick?
한국에서 언제까지 있을 거예요? = Until when will you be in Korea?
언제부터 한국어를 공부했어요? = Since when have you been studying Korean?

언제 can also be attached to “이다” to ask “when” something is. In these cases as well, it replaces the noun that would normally be attached to 이다. For example:

결혼식은 언제야? = When is the wedding?
방학은 언제야? = When is vacation?

어디 = where

어디 can be used to ask “where” something happened if the place is unknown. For example:
어디 가고 싶어요? = Where do you want to go?
어디 살아요? = Where do you live?
그것을 어디서 하고 싶어요? = Where do you want to do that?
어디에서 왔어요? = Where are you from (from where did you come?)

The particle ~까지 is commonly attached to 어디. ~부터 is not commonly attached to 어디 for the same reason that ~부터 is not commonly attached to a place, as described in Lesson 12. For example:
어디까지 가고 싶어요? = How far/until where do you want to go?
지하철을 어디까지 탈 거예요? = Until where will we ride the subway?

Like 언제, it can also be used as the noun before 이다 to ask where something “is.” For example:
어디야? = Where are you?

This is really only done when speaking to a person, and you are asking him/her directly where he/she is. When asking where another person, or another thing is, it is more natural to use 있다 in the sentence. For example:

친구가 어디에 있어요? = Where is your friend?
엄마가 어디에 있어요? = Where is mom?
펜이 어디에 있어요? = Where is the pen?

역시 = also

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “역씨”

Notes: Similar to the particle ~도. However, 역시 does not get added directly to nouns.

역시 also gets placed as an adverb in sentences for feeling when the speaker says something that is “as expected.”

나 역시 수학을 좋아하지 않아 = I also don’t like math

미터 = meter

Common Usages:
100(백) 미터 = 100 meters
미터법 = metric system

Example:
캐나다 사람들은 거리를 미터와 피트 둘 다로 측정해요 = Canadians measure distance in both feet and meters

센티미터 = centimeter

Example:
백 센티미터는 1미터예요 = 100 centimeters is 1 meter

몇몇 = some

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “면멷”

Common Usages:
몇몇 사람 = some people
몇몇 학생 = some students

Notes: Usually placed before a word meaning “people” to mean “some ____”

Example:
몇몇 사람들은 밥을 좋아하지 않아 = Some people don’t like rice

나중에 또 봐요 = see you later

Example:
Used as shown above: 나중에 또 봐요! = See you later!

벌써 = already

Example:
저는 벌써 지하철을 타고 있어요 = I am already riding the subway
내가 밥을 벌써 먹어서 지금 먹고 싶지 않아 = Because I already ate, I don’t want to eat now
저는 밥을 벌써 먹어서 다시 안 먹어도 돼요 = I don’t need to eat because I already did

이미 = already

Example:
저는 이미 여자 친구가 있어요 = I already have a girlfriend
부장님이 그 일을 이미 다 한 것 같아요 = It seems like the boss already did all that work
아빠가 돈을 이미 낸 것 같아요 = It seems like dad already paid

특히 = especially

Example:
학생들은 그 선생님을 특히 좋아해요 = Students especially like that teacher

점점 = gradually

Common Usages:
점점 나빠지다 = to gradually get worse
점점 좋아지다 = to gradually get better
점점 추워지다 = to gradually get colder

Example:
요즘에 날씨가 점점 추워져요 = Lately, the weather is getting gradually colder
중학생들의 치마는 점점 짧아지고 있어요 = Middle school students’ skirts are getting shorter and shorter

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

 

Asking Questions in Korean

Asking questions in Korean, at first glance, is very easy. For the most part, asking questions in Korean without the use of a “question” word (who/what/when/where/why/how/how much/how many) is incredibly simple.

Asking questions in English is unnecessarily complicated. If I asked you the question “Do you like sports?” In English, what is the meaning of the word “do” in that sentence? In English, whenever we ask a question (without a question word), we need to include the words did/do/will to make the listener know that we are asking a question.

Did you go to the park?
Do
you like sports?
Will
you eat with us?

It is so confusing in English, and my two sentence explanation doesn’t really explain it very well. Luckily, this is not an English learning website! You are here to learn how to ask questions in Korean. Enough of this English nonsense.

In Korean, if you are asking a question that does not require the use of a question word (one more time: who/what/when/where/why/how/how much/how many) you don’t need to do anything structurally to make that sentence a question. All you need to do is raise the intonation of the end of the sentence to make it sound like a question. For example, if you want to say “My mother ate” you already know that you can say:

엄마는 먹었어요 = My mom ate

But if you want to ask somebody “did you eat?” You just raise the intonation of the end of the sentence to make it sound like a question:

엄마는 먹었어요? = (literally means “did mom eat?”)

Remember that Korean people rarely say the word “you,” so if you ask a question to the person you are talking to about the person you are talking to, you can just omit the subject of the sentence.

밥을 먹었어? = Did (you) eat?
집에 갔어? = Did (you) go home?
소식을 들었어? = Did (you) hear the news?

If you are talking to somebody and the subject of the sentence is not the person who you are talking to, you can just use the subject as normal. Also notice that regardless of the tense of the sentence (past/present/future) you don’t need to do anything special other than raise the intonation at the end of the sentence:

남동생은 울었어요? = Did your brother cry?
한국은 좋은 나라야? = Is Korea a good country?
엄마도 올 거야? = Will mom come too?

As I said, you don’t need to change anything structurally in these sentences to make them questions. There are, however, a few ways that you can change the structure of a sentence to make the sentence a question (if you want).
.

 

Korean Questions ~ㅂ/습니까

The formal high respect ~습니다 is never used as a question. When asking a question in this form, instead of using ~습니다 you must use ~ㅂ/습니까. ~ㅂ니까 gets added directly to stems ending in a vowel, and ~습니까 gets added after a stem ending in a consonant. You can do this with all tenses:

방학 동안 집에 안 갔습니까? = You didn’t go home during vacation?
그 사람을 만나고 싶습니까? = Do you want to meet that person?
내일 학교에 갈 겁니까? = Are you going to school tomorrow?
내일 학교에 갈 것입니까? = Are you going to school tomorrow?

I work at a school in Seoul. In the bathrooms, there are charts on the walls that the cleaning staff is supposed to check once per day. Written on these charts is a list of questions about the state of the bathroom.

While you will not understand most of the words on this list, notice that all of the sentences (except for the last one) has the ending ~ㅂ/습니까?

Bathroomchart - CopySome of the words provided in the 10 sentences above are fairly difficult. However, I would like to translate it for you:

  1. Is the bathroom floor clean?
  2. Is the sink clean?
  3. Has the mirror been wiped clean?
  4. Is there extra soap?
  5. Is the toilet paper ready?
  6. Is the bathroom’s garbage can empty?
  7. Are there no toilets that haven’t been flushed?
  8. Are any lights broken?
  9. Is there any smell?
  10. Are there any places, the doorknob, the faucet, etc that are broken?

There are other ways you can change a sentence to make it a question. ~ㅂ/습니까 is typically the most formal. We will talk about the others in the upcoming sections.

 

Korean Questions ~

When asking a question, instead of ending your sentences with ~아/어, you can end them with ~니. This is an informal way to ask a question, and you can do this in all tenses. For example:

Past tense: 했니, 먹었니, 갔니, 이었니
Present tense: 하니, 먹니, 가니, 이니
Future tense (~겠): 하겠니, 먹겠니, 가겠니
Future tense (~ㄹ 것이다): 할 거니, 할 것이니, 먹을 거니, 먹을 것이니

However, note that using this form gives the sentence a slightly feminine feel to it (I’ve never once used ~니). However, I work at a Korean high school, and I hear female Korean teachers use this form all the time when asking questions to a student.

시험을 잘 봤니? = Did you write the exam well (did you do well on the exam)?
서울에 가겠니? = Are you going to go to Seoul?
몇 반이니? = What class are you in?
이미 졸업했니? = Did you already graduate?

Remember in Lesson 7 you learned about the ~ㄹ irregular. To refresh your memory, this irregular applies to words that end in ㄹ, for example:

만들다 = to make
들다 = to enter
살다 = to live

Anytime you add something that starts with a “solid ㄴ” to a verb or adjective whose stem ends in ㄹ, the ㄹ must be dropped. This is the first time you have had to use this irregular. For example:

만들다 + ~니 = 만드니
들다 + ~니 = 드니
살다 + ~니 = 사니

Examples of these words in use:
뭐 만드니? = What are you making?
마음에 드니? = Do you like it?
어디 사니? = Where do you live?

 

 

Korean Questions ~ㄴ/은가(요)

Just like ‘~니’ you can also end your questions with ~ㄴ/은가(요). Adding “요” to the end  makes it more formal. This form is less formal than the high-respect ~ㅂ/습니까 form.

~ㄴ/은가(요) gets added to the stem of adjectives. Using  this form makes a question a little bit softer than using the forms described previously. The exact difference cannot be translated perfectly, but sort of like how “would it be okay if I go into the park?” sounds slightly softer than “can I go into the park.”

You add ~ㄴ/은 to adjective stems just like you would when conjugating it to describe a noun:
예쁘다 + ㄴ/은 = 예쁜
작다 + ㄴ/은 = 작은

And then attach “가(요)” after that construction:
예쁜가(요)?
작은가(요)?

It is only conjugated into the present tense and therefore usually only used to ask about some sort of present situation. For example:

그 여자는 예쁜가? = Is that girl pretty?
이것은 너무 작은가요? = Is this too small?
그 학교가 좋은가? = Is that school good?
일이 너무 복잡한가요? = Is this work/task too complicated?

~ㄴ/은가(요) is commonly added to 이다 as well. For example:

그 사람이 선생님인가? = Is that person a teacher?
그 사람이 우리 엄마인가? = Is that person our mom? (Is that our mom?)

아닌가(요)? Is very commonly used at the end of a full sentence to say “no?” when you are asking yourself a question as if you are doubting yourself. For example:

그 여자는 한국에서 가장 예쁜 여자야. 아닌가?  = That girl is the most beautiful girl in Korea… no?/isn’t she?

너무 복잡해! 아닌가? = This is too complicated. Isn’t it?

 

 

Korean Questions ~()

Using ~나(요) at the end of a sentence to ask a question has the same function of ~ㄴ/은가(요). That is, it can be used to make a question sound slightly softer than the other ways to ask a question. However, ~나(요) is more often used with verbs and with 있다 and 없다. For example:

Notice that the irregular needs to be applied in appropriate situations again:

밥이 있나? = Is there rice?
사과도 여기서 파나요? = Do you sell apples here too?
소녀시대 콘서트를 여기서 하나요? = Is the Girl’s Generation concert here?
지하철을 타고 있나요? = Are you on (riding) the subway now?

This form can be used in the past tense as well. For example:

교통카드가 있었나요? = Did you have your bus (transportation) card?
그 소식을 들었나요? = Did you hear that/the news?
만화책을 샀나요? = Did you buy the comic book?
어제 병원에 입원했나요? = Did you go to the hospital yesterday?

It is possible to use this in the future tense, but it only sounds natural when applying it to the ~겠다 future conjugation. Adding ~나(요) to 이다 is typically not done, and therefore adding it to words that are conjugating using ~ㄹ/을 것이다 is unnatural. For example:

내일 퇴원할 거나요? – unnatural
내일 퇴원할 것이나요? – unnatural

 

Using Question Words

Depending on which question word you are using, building a question can be really easy or really confusing. I will teach you the easy examples in this lesson (who, when, where, why) and the more confusing examples in the next lesson (what, how, how much/how many).

 

Why ()

Why (왜) is probably the easiest question word in Korean. ‘왜’ is an adverb, which means it can be used/placed as an adverb in sentences. Many of the question words that you will learn in this lesson (and the following lesson) are adverbs. As you know, adverbs can be used very freely in sentences and do not have any specific location that they need to be used. However, the most common position for these adverb-question words is before the verb. If there are other adverbs in the sentence (including the negative “안”) the question word is usually placed first.

With these adverb-question words, you can typically just take a statement and change it into a question by inserting the word into the sentence. For example:

만화책을 좋아합니까? = Do you like comic books?
만화책을 왜 좋아합니까? = Why do you like comic books?

(저는) 한국어를 공부하고 있어요 = I am studying Korean
한국어를 왜 공부하고 있어요? = Why are you studying Korean?

(저는) 너무 빨리 먹었어요 = I ate really fast
왜 너무 빨리 먹었어요? = Why did you eat so fast?

(저는) 어제 학교에 안 갔어요 = I didn’t go to school yesterday
어제 학교에 왜 안 갔어요? = Why didn’t you go to school yesterday?

왜 is also used to respond when somebody calls your name (because they want you for some reason). In English, we would say “what,” but in Korean, they say “왜.” For example:

Person 1: 슬기야! = Seulgi!
Person 2: 왜? = Why/what do you want?

Notice that saying “why” in English is unnatural. This is how they say it in Korean.

 

When (언제)

The usage of ‘when’ (언제) is very similar to the usage of ‘왜’ in Korean. As an adverb, it can be used to ask “when” something happens. For example:

집에 갔어? = Did you go home?
집에 언제 갔어? = When did you go home?

집에 갈 거야? = Will you go home?
집에 언제 갈 거야? = When will you go home?

그 여자가 사라졌어요 = That girl disappeared
그 여자가 언제 사라졌어요? = When did that girl disappear?

낮잠을 잤어요? = Did you take a nap?
낮잠을 언제 잤어요? = When did you take a nap?

아빠가 왔어요? = Did dad come?
아빠가 언제 왔나요? = When did dad come?

Particles like ~부터 and ~까지, which are often used to indicate from/until when something happens can be attached to 언제 to indicate that it is unknown “from/until when” something happens. For example:

어제부터 아팠어요 = I have been sick since yesterday
언제부터 아팠어요? = Since when have you been sick?
Notice that 어제 and 언제 are not the same word.

한국에서 내년까지 있을 거예요 = I will be in Korea until next year
한국에서 언제까지 있을 거예요? = Until when will you be in Korea?

작년부터 한국어를 공부했어요 = I have been studying Korean since last year
언제부터 한국어를 공부했어요? = Since when have you been studying Korean?

언제 can also be attached to “이다” to ask “when” something is. In these cases as well, it replaces the noun that would normally be attached to 이다. For example:

결혼식은 내일이야 = The wedding is tomorrow
결혼식은 언제야? = When is the wedding?

방학은 다음 주야 = Vacation is next week
방학은 언제야? = When is vacation?

The grammatical principle ~든지 is commonly attached to 언제 to form 언제든지. For now, you can think of this simply as a word that means “whenever.” When you learn about the function of ~든지 in Lesson 106, you will understand how this meaning is formed.

 

Where (어디)

어디 works very much like언제. It can be used to ask “where” something happened if the place is unknown. For example:

집에 가고 싶어요= I want to go home
어디 가고 싶어요? = Where do you want to go?

한국에 살아요 = I live in Korea
어디 살아요? = Where do you live?

Just like 여기, ~ is often omitted from “어디.” 어디에서 is often contracted to 어디서.

More examples:
그것을 집에서 하고 싶어요 = I want to do that at home
그것을 어디서 하고 싶어요? = Where do you want to do that?

한국에서 왔어요 = I came from Korea
어디에서 왔어요? = Where are you from (from where did you come?)

The particle ~까지 is commonly attached to 어디. ~부터 is not commonly attached to 어디 for the same reason that ~부터 is not commonly attached to a place, as described in Lesson 12. For example:

부산까지 가고 싶어요 = I want to go until Busan
어디까지 가고 싶어요? = How far/until where do you want to go?

지하철을 서울역까지 탈 거예요 = We will take/ride the Subway until Seoul Station
지하철을 어디까지 탈 거예요? = Until where will we ride the subway?

Like 언제, it can be used as the noun before 이다 to ask where something “is.”

Placing 어디 before 이다 is really only done if asking somebody directly where they are:

어디야? = Where are you?

Or when asking where a place is:
너의 집이 어디야? = Where is your house?
그곳이 어디야? = Where is that place?
학교가 어디예요? = Where is the/your school?

When asking where another person, or an object is, it is more natural to use 있다 in these sentence. For example:

친구가 어디에 있어요? = Where is your friend?
엄마가 어디에 있어요? = Where is mom?
펜이 어디에 있어요? = Where is the pen?
아빠가 어디에 있어? = Where is dad?
그 만화책이 어디에 있어? = Where is that comic?

These would be unnatural:

아빠가 어디야?
그 만화책이 어디야?

Just like 언제, there are of course more complicated ways that 어디 can be used. For now, this is good enough.

 

 

Who (누구)

In Korean, 누구 has the function of a pronoun.

Actually, some of the ways you say 언제 and 어디 being used were as pronouns in Korean. I chose not to explain this to you because the definition of a pronoun in Korean and English is not exactly the same. 언제 and 어디 can act as pronouns in Korean, but this same usage would be called an adverb in English. I actually had an explanation typed out, but decided not to include it into this lesson because it makes things more confusing than they actually are. However, knowing that 누구 is a pronoun in English and Korean is helpful (if you know what pronouns are).

As a pronoun, 누구 can be used in the place of a noun in a sentence – that is, it can be used to replace the object, the subject or as a noun before 이다.

This is the same in English – as you can see in the following three examples:

Who will study Korean tomorrow? – ‘who’ is the subject of the sentence
Who
will you meet tomorrow? – ‘who’ is the object of the sentence -“you” is the subject
Who
is that person? = ‘who’ is ‘that person’ in the sentence

However, this is confusing in English because in all three cases “who” is the first word of the sentence regardless of its role.
In Korean, instead of always placing ‘who’ at the start of the sentence, it should be placed in the location of the subject (usually the start of the sentence), the object (usually somewhere in the middle of the sentence) or before 이다. I will show you an example of each:

In the third sentence below you can see an example of 누구 being used as a subject. The subject is underlined in each case. When 누구 is used as the subject of a sentence, it is changed to 누가.
너는
내일 한국어를 공부할 거야 = You will study Korean tomorrow
너는
내일 한국어를 공부할 거야? = Will you study Korean tomorrow?
누가
내일 한국어를 공부할 거야? = Who will study Korean tomorrow?

In the third sentence below you can see an example of 누구 being used as an object. The object is underlined in each case. The object particles can be used if 누구 is the object.
너는 내일 친구를 만날 거야 = You will meet a friend tomorrow
너는 내일 친구를 만날 거야? = Will you meet a friend tomorrow?
너는 내일 누구(를) 만날 거야? = Who will you meet tomorrow?

In the third sentence below you can see an example of 누구 being used before 이다:
그 사람은 너의 아버지야 = That person is your dad
그 사람은 너의 아버지야? = Is that person your dad?
그 사람은 누구야? = Who is that person?

That’s it for this lesson, but there is still lots for you to know about asking questions in Korean! This lesson covered the first half of what you need to know, and the following lesson (Lesson 22) will cover the rest!

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