In unit three you have learned the different styles of speech used in Korean depending on the relationship between speakers. Here we will focus again on that three types : 1) casual form, 2) polite form, and 3) honorific form.
Style of Speech
Verb endings are quite similar to the English present tense, as in ‘I study’ or ‘she studies’. However, it is also used to indicate an action that is going on at present, as in ‘I am studying at the moment’ (as well as ‘I am studying at Monash University this year’). See examples below.
1) If the last vowel of the stem is ㅏ/ㅑ (a/ya) or ㅗ/ㅛ (o/yo) : +아 (+a)
살 + 아 → 살아 (live/lives/is living, etc)
sar + a sara
가 + 아 → 가 (go/goes/ is going, etc)
ga + a ga
***가 (ga) already hasㅏ(a) and no final consonant, so you don’t need to add 아
2) If the last vowel is not ㅏ/ㅑ (a/ya) or ㅗ/ㅛ (o/yo) : +어 (+eo)
먹 + 어 → 먹어 (eat/eats/is eating, etc)
meog + eo meogeo
읽 + 어 → 읽어 (read/reads/is reading, etc)
irg + eo irgeo
쓰 + 어 → 써 (write/writes/is writing, etc)
sseu + eo sseo
***When the stem ends in the vowel ‘ㅡ’ (eu), the ‘ㅡ’ (eu) itself is dropped.
3) If no final consonant, the vowels are usually combined into one syllable :
오 + 아 → 와 (come/comes/is coming, etc)
o a wa
주 + 어 → 줘 (give/gives/is giving, etc)
ju eo jwo
4) If the stem ends in 하 (ha) : 하 (ha) → 해 (hae)
하 → 해 (do/does/am doing, etc.)
공부하 → 공부해 (study/studies/am studying, etc.)
이야기하 → 이야기해 (talk/talks/am talking, etc.)
This rule is useful when you look up unknown words in the dictionary. Don’t worry too much about having to remember these rules. The best way at this stage is to memorize both stem and ending together.
Polite form is constructed in the same way as casual form except that you add 요 (yo) at the end.
살 + 아 → 살아 + 요 → 살아요 (live/lives/is living, etc)
sar + a sara + yo sarayo
먹 + 어 → 먹어 + 요 → 먹어요 (eat/eats/is eating, etc)
meog + eo meogeo + yo meogeoyo
There are rules for forming honorific form depending on whether the verb stem ends in a consonant or vowel.
1) If the verb stem ends in a vowel : +세요 (+seyo)
가 + 세요 → 가세요 (go/goes/ is going, etc)
ga + seyo gaseyo
2) If the verb stem ends in a consonant : +으세요 (+euseyo)
앉 + 으세요 → 앉으세요 (sit/sits/is sitting, etc)
anj + euseyo anjeuseyo
If there’s any confusion, don’t hesitate to ask us.
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