As Hallyu Wave becomes more widely accepted, more people from all around the world are encouraged to go and visit Korea. For your convenience, you can learn some of the common Korean expressions before your upcoming trip to Korea.
Koreans appreciate foreigners visiting their country. More visitors, more opportunity for them to earn money. Unfortunately, not everyone in Korea can speak English. They want to help you, but the language barrier is too high - especially with the elders. They'd really appreciate it if you can speak a little of their language. Here are some of the most common expressions in Korean that will be helpful in your upcoming trip to the land of the morning calm.
1. 안녕하세요. Annyeong Haseyo.
Pronunciation: "An-nyeong Ha-se-yo"
This means ‘hello, how are you’ or ‘goodbye’. When greeting an elder, someone superior, and someone you meet for the first time, you say the whole phrase, 'annyeong haseyo'. If you're meeting with a close friend, you can drop the 'haseyo' and just say, "annyeong". You add "-yo" at the end to show respect for the one receiving the greeting.
Tip: There are two ways of saying goodbye.
When you're the one leaving, say 안녕히계세요. An-nyeong Hi-kye-se-yo.
When you're the one staying, say 안녕히가세요. An-nyeong Hi-ka-se-yo.
2. 반갑습니다. Bangapsumnida.
Translation: Nice to meet you.
You can say this phrase when you are introduced to another person.
Tip: Shake their hands for more formality and sincerity.
3. 감사합니다. Thank you.
Translation: Thank you.
When you receive compliments and help. You can just say, thank you.
Tip: The word "고맙습니다" (go-map-sum-ni-da) also means "thank you".
4. 네/아니요. Yes or No.
Pronunciation: "Ne" "A-ni-yo"Translation: Yes. No.
If you want to confirm something, these are your go-to phrases.
5. 잠시만요. Excuse me.
Pronunciation: "Jam-shi-man-yo"Translation: Excuse me.
When you want to get someone's attention, to ask them to move out of the way, or tell them to wait for a moment.
Tip: Alternately, you can use "시례합니다" (shil-ye-ham-ni-da) to say "excuse me".
6. 죄송합니다. I'm sorry.
Translation: I'm sorry.
When you need to apologize for your action, you can say this phrase.
Tip: "미안합니다" (mi-an-ham-ni-da) is an alternative, but this connotes a more apologetic approach.
7. 이것 얼마예요? How much is this?
Pronunciation: "I-geo eol-ma-ye-yo?"Translation: How much is this?
Use this phrase to ask the price of an item that you're holding or close to you.
Tip: You can use "그것" (geu-geo) for things that are closer to the listener. Use "저것" (jeo geo) for things that are both far from you and the listener.
8. 깎아 주세요. Give me a discount, please.
Pronunciation: "Kka-kka ju-se-yo"
Translation: Give me a discount, please.
If you're shopping for souvenirs to bring back to your home country in Namdaemun or Myeongdong, you can say this phrase to ask for a bargain. Some may just give you a freebie when you purchase more than ten pieces of their items!
Tip: Try to say it in a cute way for more effective usage.
9. 어디예요? Where is it?
Translation: Where is it?
When you can't see a single sign where to go, say this phrase. If you want to go to the comfort/wash room (화장실, hwa-jang-sil), you can say, "화장실에 어디예요?" (hwa-jang-sil-e eo-di-ye-yo?)
10. 있어요? 없어요? Do you have it? Don't you have it?
Translation: Do you have it? Don't you have it?
Use this when you are looking for something specific in the store or restaurant. The response may be the same. The difference is that the tone is declarative.
Tip: To use this phrase, you should say the thing that you're looking for + 있어요/없어요?
Example: 김밥 있어요? Do you have kimbab? 떡볶이 없어요? Don't you have tteokbokki?
Bonus: 천천히 말 해주세요. Please speak slowly.
Pronunciation: Cheon-cheon-hi mal-hae-ju-se-yo
Translation: Please speak slowly.
When the speaker replies to your inquiries very fast, you can say this phrase to ask for the speaker to speak slowly.
Tip: If you want to ask the speaker to repeat what they said, you may say, "한 번만 다시 말해주세요" (han beon-man da-shi mal-hae-ju-se-yo)