This Lesson is also available in Español
미 = beauty
튀김 = something deep fried
번개 = lightning
천둥 = thunder
안개 = fog
특기 = special skills, specialties
해병 = marines
만두 = dumplings
각종 = all sorts of, all types of
금연 = not smoking
실물 = an object seen or experienced in person
전국 = the whole country
마찬가지 = the same thing
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This lesson will be a bit of a change of pace. After one hundred lessons of HowtoStudyKorean, you probably have a good base of official, written Korean grammar. In this lesson, you will learn some ways that Korean is often changed during speaking. They say that in order to be a musician, you need to study music to learn the rules in order to know how to break them. I think this is a good analogy for learning the concepts taught in this lesson.
You will learn some common abbreviations that are 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 a noun. Naturally, the noun must end in a vowel. 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 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 어렸을 때 해병이었어 = When I was younger I was a marine
넌 누구를 기다리고 있니? = Who are you waiting for?
난 천둥이 치는 소리를 들었어 = I heard thunder
아버지는 날 위해 튀김을 사 주었어 = Dad bought some fried food for me
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 신선한 것을 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat something fresh
저는 신선한 거를 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat something fresh
저는 내일 각종의 만두를 먹을 거예요 = I am going to eat various types of dumplings tomorrow
저는 내일 각종의 만두를 먹을 것이에요 = I am going to eat various types of dumplings tomorrow
~를 or ~는 can be abbreviated to attach directly to “거” just like with 너 or 나:
거 + 를 = 걸
거 + 는 = 건
이건 얼마예요? = How much is this?
그걸 하지 마세요 = Don’t do that please!
저는 신선한 걸 먹고 싶어요 = I want to eat something fresh
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 forms of internet messaging. For example:
나의 침댄 너무 딱딱해! = My bed is too hard!
여긴 금연 구역이라 여기서 담배를 피우지 마세요 = This is a non-smoking area, so please don’t smoke here
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)
It’s based on the idea that in Korean, if something can be assumed, you don’t really need to say it. That is, if you can assume the particles are there, then saying them is unnecessary. For example:
나 이 손목시계 늘 차고 있어 = I always wear a watch
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. 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 characters there are, 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.
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!” or “I know right?!” 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!
Here are more examples:
Person 1: 데이트가 어땠어? = How was the date?
Person 2: 음~ 괜찮았는데 남자가 조금 못생겼어 ㅠ = Oh… it was okay, but the guy was a little bit ugly
Person 1: 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
Person 2: 그러니까! = That’s the thing!
Person 1: 어제 전국에서 천둥 번개가 칠 거라고 했는데 하루 종일 맑았어
= They said it was going to thunder and lightning all day but it was sunny all day
Person 2: 그니까! 난 골프 계획을 다 취소했는데
= I know, eh! I even canceled all of my golf plans
Person 1: 박스가 커 보이는데 실물로 보면 엄청 작아
= It looks big on the box, but when you see it in person it is very small
Person 2: 그니까! 나도 마찬가지로 박스 때문에 샀는데 연 다음에 실망스러웠어
= That’s the thing! I also bought it because of (what was on the) box, but after opening it I was disappointed
Person 1: 그 선생님이 우리 딸이 체육을 못 해서 좋은 대학교에 못 가겠다고 했어
= That teacher said that our daughter isn’t good at P.E. and therefore won’t be able to go to a good university
Person 2: 모든 학생들이 각각의 특기가 있는데 어떻게 그런 말을 할 수가 있어?
= Every student each has their own specialties, how could he say something like that?
Person 1: 그러니까 나 엄청 화났어
= That’s the thing! I was so mad!
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.
그러니까 학생들이 반의 목표를 위해 각자의 역할을 잘 해야 돼요
= That’s why students in the class each need to do their role well in order to achieve the class goal
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”.
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 안개가 많이 꼈죠? = There was a lot of fog last night, eh?
어젯밤에 안개가 많이 꼈어요, 그쵸? = There was a lot of fog 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?
Based on what I have written in this lesson, you should be able to decipher this 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 wants to show agreement to what was just said. 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 of 아이
아이 is used to refer to a baby. It is often abbreviated to 애. As an adult, it is common to refer to children (roughly 12 years and lower) as 애, but it seems strange for me to refer to children of that age as 아이. As a teacher, I often refer to all of my students as 애, but I would never call them 아이. For example:
애들이 미술 수업 시간 동안 미의 기준을 배우고 있어요
= During art class students learn about the standard of beauty
얘, 걔 and 쟤 are abbreviations of 이 아이, 그 아이 and 저 아이 respectively. In addition to the age ranges indicated above, it is common for friends to refer to themselves as 애 in these abbreviations. For example:
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
걔가 코로나에 걸린 사람과 접촉해서 걔도 걸렸어요 = That kid was a close-contact with a person who caught COVID, so he caught COVID too
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 36 year old male) do this sometimes when I message my wife or when I’m feeling cute or something.
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
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’ll start learning some real Korean grammar again!