Common Politeness Levels in Korean
Note: If you are familiar with politeness levels in the Korean language, you are welcome to skip down to the conjugation information and examples.
Before we dive into the wonderful world of verb conjugation, let me give you all a quick rundown of politeness levels. In the US, we primarily use words such as “sir”, “ma’am”, “miss”, etc. to show that we have a certain amount of respect towards that person. In Korean, this gesture of politeness is built in to the language. There are 7 speech levels in total, but there are three primary speech levels that are used more in everyday life. Therefore, we’ll focus on those for now and I may cover the others in a later post.
|Formal (존댓말):||– (ㄹ/을 것입니다)||Used when speaking to senior, elderly, someone important, or someone new. (Examples: your boss, professor, someone you met on the street)|
|Polite (존댓말):||– (ㄹ/을 거예요)||Used when speaking to someone you know well or in a non-business setting. (Examples: classmates, restaurant servers, friends older than you)|
|Casual (반말):||– (ㄹ/을 거야)||Used when speaking to someone you are very close with or have permission to speak 반말 with. (Examples: someone younger than you, siblings, significant other)|
If you want to be safe and not sure what to use, the formal versions will be the safest way not to accidentally offend someone.
A great resource for learning more about politeness levels can be found HERE. The linked lesson is from the amazing people at TalkToMeInKorean.com. I absolutely LOVE their stuff, and it is one of the best resources I have found during my Korean language journey. Definitely check them out!
Simple Future Tense
In English, examples of simple future tense would be “I will eat an apple.”, “I will run today.”, or “I will go to school.” In this lesson, we will be creating example sentences like these in Korean to help you begin your Korean conversational journey.
Let me premise this by saying that the highest politeness level does not follow the rules I have listed below; the rules below will use the second politeness level since it is more commonly used in conversation. If you are using the formal level, you will just take off the 다 (as you’ll see below) and add (ㄹ/을) 것입니다, if using a verb with 하다 (conjugated = 할 것입니다).
Simple Past Tense Conjugation Rules (when to use ㄹ vs 을):
- If the verb stem ends in a vowel, add ㄹ as a bottom consonant and add the appropriate ending (eg. 가다 -> 갈 거예요) to go -> will go
- If the verb stem ends in a consonant, use 을 and add the appropriate ending (eg. 입다 -> 입을 거예요) to wear -> will wear
- If the verb stem ends in ㄹ, only add the appropriate ending (eg. 열다 -> 열 거예요) to open -> will open
Conjugation Examples for Each Rule:
Verb: to buy (사다)
|살 것입니다||살 거예요||살 거야|
*NOTE: the future tense for 사다(to buy) and 살다(to live) are the same due to the ㄹ in 살다 and the simple future tense rules listed above. In this case, it is very important to understand the context of the conversation/sentence when using this version of these words.
Verb: to eat (먹다)
|먹을 것입니다||먹을 거예요||먹을 거야|
Verb: to work(일하다)
|일할 것입니다||일할 거예요||일할 거야|
|오늘 일할 거예요.||I will work today.|
|저는 밥을 먹을 거예요.||I will eat rice.|
|나는 고양이를 살 거야.||I will buy a cat.|
|나는 영화를 볼 거야.||I will watch a movie.|
|내일은 일요일 일 것입니다.||Tomorrow will be Sunday.|