Are you learning how to speak Korean and ready to have your first conversation? Then this is the perfect list of practical Korean phrases.
No fluff here! All the Korean words and phrases listed below are helpful phrases you’ll actually use when speaking Korean.
Here are basic Korean words to get you ready for your first conversation:
Basic Korean Words and Phrases
- Hello: 안녕하세요 (annyeong haseyo)
- Yes: 네 (ne) or 예 (ye)
- No: 아니요 (aniyo)
- Maybe: 아마도 (amado)
- Please: 주세요 (juseyo)
- Thank you: 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida) or 고마워요 (gomawoyo)
- You’re welcome: 천만에요 (cheonmaneyo)
- Okay: 예 (ye) or 괜찮다 (gwaenchanhda)
- I’m sorry: 미안해요 (mianhaeyo)
- I don’t know: 몰라요 (mollayo)
- Excuse me (for apologies): 실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)
- Excuse me (for someone’s attention): 저기요 (jeogiyo)
- Good: 좋아요 (johayo) or 좋은 (joheun)
- Bad: 안좋아요 (anjohayo) or 나쁜 (nappeun)
- And: 과 (gwa) or 와 (wa) *See note below
*A note here about “and” in Korean: There are many ways to say “and”, but these two are the most standard. The two listed here are particles and change depending on the last sound of the word that comes before it.
You use 과 (gwa) if the word before it ends in a consonant. You use 와 (wa) if the word ends in a vowel.
This is common with many Korean particles.
Here are some of the most common greetings in Korean. You’ll notice that there are a few ways to say “goodbye”. That’s because depending on how you’re leaving, it changes slightly!
But if you ever forget, you can say annyeong. It’s more casual, but it will get the job done.
- Hi: 안녕 (annyeong)
- Hello on the phone: 여보세요 (yeoboseyo)
- Good morning: 좋은아침이에요 (joeun achimieyo)
- How are you: 어떻게 지내세요? (eotteohge jinaeseyo) or 잘 지내요? (jal jinaeyo)
- Long time no see: 오랜만이에요 (oraenmanieyo)
- Bye: 안녕 (annyeong)
- Goodbye (to the person leaving when you’re staying): 안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo)
- Goodbye (when you’re leaving and the other person is staying): 안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghi gyeseyo)
- Take care: 잘가요 (jalgayo)
- Welcome (to a store or place): 환영합니다 (hwanyeonghamnida)
If you want to learn more ways to start a conversation in Korean? Check out this article about Korean greetings.
Common Korean Phrases for Everyday Life
You’ll run into these phrases all the time in Korean. Some even every time you eat!
- Good luck: 화이팅 (hwaiting, literally: “fighting”) or 행운을 빕니다 (haengun-eul bimnida)
- Cheers: 건배 (geonbae)
- Amazing: 대박 (daebak)
- Have you eaten?: 밥 먹었어요? (bab meogeosseoyo?)
- Bon appetit: 잘 먹겠습니다 (jal meokgetseumnida)
- Thank you for this meal: 잘 먹었습니다 (jal meogeotseuminda)
- Congratulations: 축하해요 (chukahaeyo)
- No problem: 문제 없어요 (munje eopseoyo)
- Of course: 당연하죠 (dangyeonhajyo)
- Just one moment, please: 잠시만 기다려 주세요 (jamsiman gidaryeo juseyo)
- Sleep well: 잘 자요 (jal jayo)
- Get home safely: 안전하게 집에 가다 (anjeonhage jib-e gada)
- Don’t worry: 걱정 하지마 (geokjeong hajimaseyo)
We wrote even more Korean phrases for beginners and those preparing to travel to Korea, so check that out, too!
Survival Korean Phrases for Getting Around
These are the most helpful phrases for when you’re trying to get by in Korean!
- Do you speak English? 영어하세요? (yeongeo haseyo)
- Do you speak Korean? 한국어하세요? (hangugeo haseyo)
- I understand: 이해해요 (ihae haeyo)
- I don’t understand: 이해 못 해요 (ihae mos haeyo)
- What did you say? 뭐라고 했어? (mworago haesseo)
- Can you speak slowly please?: 천천히 말 해주세요 cheoncheonhi mal hae juseyo)
- Please repeat: 반복하세요 (banbog haseyo)
- Please write it down: 적어주세요 (jeogeo juseyo)
- I speak a little Korean: 한국어를 조금한다 (hangugeo-leul jogeumhanda)
- What does this mean? 이것은 무엇을 의미 하는가? (igeoseun mueos-eul uimi haneunga)
- What is _ in Korean? _ 한국말로 뭐예요? (hangugmallo mwoyeyo)
- How much is it? 얼마에요? (eolmayeyo)
- Where is _?: _ 어디에 있어요 (eodie isseyo)
- Where is the bathroom?: 화장실은 어디에 있어요? (hwajangsireun eodie isseyo?)
- Over there: 저기 (jeogi)
- Straight: 직진 (jigjin)
- Right: 오른쪽 (oleunjjok)
- Left: 왼쪽 (oenjjok)
- Can you help me please?: 도와 줄수있으세요? (dowa julsu isseuseyo)
Basic Korean Phrases for Conversation
You’ll need to know how to ask some simple questions for your first conversation. These are a great place to start:
- What’s your name?: 이름이 뭐예요? (ireum-i mwoyeyo)
- My name is…: 제 이름은… (je ileum-eun)
- Nice to meet you: 반갑습니다 (bangapseubnida)
- Where are you from? 어디에서 왔어요? (eodieseo wasseoyo)
- I’m from…: …에서 왔어요 (eseo wasseoyo)
- How old are you?: 몇 살이에요? (myeot sarieyo)
- I’m _ years old: 살이에요 (sarieyo)
- What’s your job?: 직업이 뭐에요? (jigeobi mweoeyo)
- Where do you work?: 어디에서 일합니까? (eodieseo ilhamnikka)
- What are your hobbies?: 취미가 뭐니? (chwimiga mwoni)
- And you?: 그리고 너? (geuligo neo)
- Have a nice day: 좋은 하루 보내세요 (joheun haru bonaeseyo)
Practical Steps to Having Your First Conversation in Korean
Now that you’ve seen the best Korean phrases and words to learn for your first conversation, it’s time to prepare!
Having your first Korean conversation can be super nerve-wracking. But the whole point of learning the language is to speak and have conversations with new people, right?
So we have to work past our nerves and do the thing!
That said, the best way to get over your nerves?
I’ve listed some of my favorite tips for getting through your first Korean language exchange. If you do these things, you’ll feel way more confident!
I’ve also included extra resources for each tip, so you can continue to learn Korean and grow your skills.
Learn the Core 100 Korean Words
In every language, there are about 100 words that make up around 50% of all spoken speech.
Crazy, isn’t it?
A lot of these words are small, connecting words like “the” and “in” in English. But there are many common nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs we use all the time. Korean is no different.
So check out this article to learn the 100 core Korean words you need to know.
Keep in mind though, that it’s also important to learn words relevant to you, specifically. That’s where our next tip comes in.
Create a Korean Script
Take a look at the phrases above we already covered. Let’s say you asked someone what their hobbies are. Then they asked, “What about you?”
Well, do you know how to say your hobbies in Korean?
If not, then it’s time to make a script!
Write out how you think your conversation may go. Script your answers, so when you’re asked questions, you know how to respond. Like this:
“What are your hobbies?” 취미가 뭐니? chwimiga mwoni
“I like to play guitar and watch Star Wars.” 기타를 연주하고 스타 워즈를 보는 것을 좋아해요. gita-leul yeonjuhago seuta wojeu-leul boneun geoseul johahaeyo
If you think the conversation may dig deeper into that topic, take it even further:
“Cool! I love Star Wars, too. Which Episode is your favorite?” 대박! 나도 스타 워즈를 좋아해요. 가장 좋아하는 에피소드는 뭐니? Daebak! Nado seuta wojeu-leul johahaeyo. Gajang johaha-neun episode-neun mwoni?
“I really love Episode 5: Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t like the latest movie, The Rise of Skywalker.” Empire Strikes Back을 정말 좋아합니다. 최신 영화 The Rise of Skywalker가 마음에 좋아하지 않아요. Empire Strikes Back-eul jeongmal johahaeyo. Choesin yeonghwa The Rise of Skywalker-ga maeume johahaji anhayo.
(I’m not speaking from personal preference or anything…)
You know how to talk about things you care about during your conversation!
Here are some more tips for creating a language exchange script and how to find a partner.
Start Speaking Korean from Day One
Next step? Start speaking. Today. Right now.
You’ve got this list of phrases. You’re working on your Korean script. Now start saying them out loud and often. Repeat them every day.
Get used to how Korean sounds are formed with your mouth and how they sound rolling off your tongue.
Depending on your native language, that can be quite a change. So to prevent stumbling in-person, get used to saying the things you want to say.
Speaking from day one is the whole basis of our language learning method here at Fluent in 3 Months, and that’s because it works.
Check out more tips for how to speak in your target language.
Master Your Korean Pronunciation
Now that you’re speaking, you’ll need to work on your pronunciation.
Korean pronunciation is a bit different from English and other European languages. It takes some getting used to. It takes even more practice to listen and understand.
The best way to master your Korean pronunciation is to listen often and repeat always.
My favorite way to do that is with KoreanClass101. It’s the best Korean podcast out there, with all kinds of lessons to help you learn Korean fast. They even have lessons on pronunciation.
You can pop in your headphones, and practice repeating while cleaning the house. Or play it in the car during your commute.
The key is getting used to how Korean sounds, learning to understand what is spoken and getting comfortable saying it yourself.
Check out KoreanClass101 here to work on your pronunciation.
Learn How to Read Korean Hangul
Wait… why learn how to read Korean if your goal is to speak?
Well, it’s because the romanization of Korean words is not consistent. If you base the sound on how it’s romanized, you’ll most likely mispronounce the word.
That’s where hangul comes in. If you know how to read hangul, you’ll be able to pronounce Korean better.
You aren’t trying to make Korean fit the limited sounds in English. Instead, you’re learning it as it’s designed to sound.
Besides, when you can read hangul, you can get into all kinds of amazing Korean resources with ease. That’s where the fun really starts!
Ace Your First Conversation with These Korean Phrases
Now you’re ready to have conversations in Korean. Way to go!
Any helpful Korean phrases I’m missing on this list? Leave me a comment and let me know!