Level 3 Korean Grammar

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1

Too much, Very / 너무

2

Linking Verbs with -고

3

In front of, Behind, On top of, Under, Next to / 앞에, 옆에, 위에, 밑에, 뒤에

4

Shall we? / I wonder / -(으)ㄹ까요?

5

Approximately, About / 쯤, 약, 정도

6

Future Tenses / -(으)ㄹ 거예요 vs -(으)ㄹ게요

7

Linking Verbs With -아/어/여서

8

To look like, To seem like / 같아요

9

To seem like, To look like (with verbs) / -ㄴ 것 같아요

10

Before -ing / -기 전에

11

ㅂ irregular / ㅂ 불규칙

12

But still, Nevertheless / 그래도

13

Making Adjectives / Descriptive Verbs + -ㄴ 명사

14

Making Adjectives / Action Verbs + -는/(으)ㄴ/(으)ㄹ + 명사

15

Well then, In that case, If so / 그러면, 그럼

16

Let’s / -아/어/여요 (청유형)

17

In order to, For the sake of / 위하다, 위해, 위해서

18

Nothing but, Only / 밖에 + 부정형

19

After -ing / 다음에

20

Even if, Even though / -아/어/여도

21

Linking Verbs with -는데 / noun + -인데, adjective + -ㄴ데

22

Maybe I might… / -(으)ㄹ 수도 있어요

23

Word Builder 1 / 학(學)

24

르 irregular / 르 불규칙

25

Verb Ending / -네요

26

ㄷ irregular / ㄷ 불규칙

27

Politeness Levels / 반말 and 존댓말

28

“Let’s” in casual language / 반말

29

ㅅ irregular / ㅅ 불규칙

30

Word Builder 2 / 실(室)

31

Test Your Korean

Politeness Levels / 반말 and 존댓말

안녕하세요! In this lesson, we are talking about the differences between the different politeness levels in Korean. The most casual and intimate language is called “반말”. Find out more about when you can and cannot use 반말 and how to use it by listening to this lesson.

Back in Level 1 Lesson 1, we briefly explained the two main categories of  honorifics used in the Korean language, and so far, the verb endings and various sentence structures you’ve learned with us have been in the 존댓말 [jon-daet-mal] (polite/formal language) category.  In this lesson, we’d like to introduce 반말 [ban-mal], or casual/informal/intimate language. 


Politeness levels are determined by the verb ending. There are three basic verb endings used to express different politeness levels:

Type 1: -ㅂ니다 [-nida] = the most polite and most formal ending

Type 2: -(아/어/여)요 [-(a/eo/yeo)yo] = the polite, natural, and slightly formal ending

Type 3: -아/어/여 = the casual, informal, and intimate ending


Types 1 and 2 are fall under the 존댓말 [jon-daet-mal] category, and Type 3 goes into the 반말 [ban-mal] category.


When do you use 반말?

Generally, 반말 is considered to be the most intimate and casual way of speaking with others in Korean. Therefore, it has no formality at all. You can only use 반말 to someone who is younger than you, someone of the same age as you, or (if the other person is older than you) someone with whom you agreed to mutually use 반말.

If you don’t know the other person’s age or social status, you should not use 반말 in any circumstance. Once you know the other person’s age and find out if he or she is younger than you, you can use 반말. However, it is safer, as well as a nice gesture, to ask the person with whom you are speaking with whether you can use 반말 with him/her.


Here are some common cases in which you can use 반말:

1. You are much older than the other person and you know for sure that the other person won’t be offended if you use 반말.

2. You are older than the other person and you got his or her permission to use 반말.

3. You are of the same age as the other person and you got his or her permission to use 반말.

4. You are in elementary school, middle school, or high school and you know that all your classmates are of the same age as you.

5. You are talking to yourself or writing in a diary/journal.


Here are some common cases in which you SHOULD NOT use 반말 :

1. You know the other person only through work and not personally.

2. You are older than the other person, but he or she is your business client or customer.

3. You are older than the other person, but you are talking to the person in an official environment such as business meetings, seminars, lessons, etc.

4. You don’t know the other person. You just met him/her.

5. You are younger than the other person and you never got permission from him/her that you can use 반말 to him/her.

6. You are the same age as the other person, but you are both adults and you don’t know each other that well.

7. You are older than the other person, but he/she is your boss.

8. You are older than the other person, but he or she or the spouse of your older sibling.

9. You are talking to a large group of people or filming a video blog.


How do you ask for and give permission to speak in 반말?  

There are certain expressions that people say to get permission from the other person to use 반말. 


If you are the older one:

1. 말 놔도 돼요?

[mal nwa-do dwae-yo?]

= May I speak in 반말 with you?

** 말을 놓다 [ma-reul no-ta] literally means to “put down the language” or “lower the language.”


2. 말 편하게 해도 돼요?

[mal pyeo-na-ge hae-do dwae-yo?]

= May I speak comfortably with you?


If you are the younger one:

1. 말 놓으셔도 돼요.

[mal no-eu-syeo-do dwae-yo.]

= You can speak casually with me.


2. 말 편하게 하셔도 돼요.

[mal pyeon-ha-ge ha-syeo-do dwae-yo.]

= You can speak comfortably with me. / You can speak 반말 with me.


If you are of the same age as the other person:

1. 우리 말 놓을까요?

[u-ri mal no-eul-kka-yo?]

= Shall we speak in 반말 to each other?


2. 말 편하게 해도 되죠?

[mal pyeon-ha-ge hae-do doe-jyo?]

= I can talk in 반말 with you, right?


How to change 존댓말 to 반말


Present tense

-아/어/여요 ---> -아/어/여

-이에요 / -예요 --> -이야 / -야


Past tense

-았/었/였어요 ---> -았/었/였어


Future tense

-(으)ㄹ 거예요 --> -(으)ㄹ 거야


Ex) 

1. What is this?

존댓말: 이거 뭐예요? [i-geo mwo-ye-yo?]

반말: 이거 뭐야? [i-geo mwo-ya?]


2. I’m going to work tomorrow.

존댓말: 내일 일할 거예요. [nae-il il-hal geo-ye-yo.]

반말: 내일 일할 거야. [nae-il il-hal geo-ya.]


3. I met a friend yesterday.

존댓말: 어제 친구 만났어요. [eo-je chin-gu man-na-sseo-yo.]

반말: 어제 친구 만났어. [eo-je chin-gu man-na-sseo.]


Addressing people

When you want to politely address someone using 존댓말, you add the word 씨 such as 경은 씨, 현우 씨, 석진 씨, 소연 씨, and 현정 씨. If you are in a business or school setting, you can add the title of the person’s job or status after their name, like 경은 선생님, 현우 회장님, etc., to show more formality toward the addressee. 

When you speak in 반말, however, you can just say the name of the person without 씨. In order to make the name sound more natural when you are addressing the other person, you need to add 아 or 야 to the end of the name. Names that end WITHOUT a consonant are followed by 야 [ya], and names that end WITH a consonant are followed by 아 [a].

Ex)

경은 ----> 경은아!  [Kyeong-eun-a!] (Hey Kyeong-eun!)

현우 ----> 현우야! [Hyun-u-ya!] (Hey Hyunwoo!)


Speaking in Third Person 

When using a person’s name while speaking or writing in third person, 이 is added after names that end with a consonant. Therefore, names like 경은 and 석진 are followed by 이.

If 현우 wants to talk about 석진 in a sentence, he says 석진’s name as “석진이”.

Ex) 

석진이가 했어. [seok-jin-i-ga hae-sseo.] 

= Seokjin did it.

안녕하세요! In this lesson, we are talking about the differences between the different politeness levels in Korean. The most casual and intimate language is called “반말”. Find out more about when you can and cannot use 반말 and how to use it by listening to this lesson.
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