Korean 101: Your Guide to Basic Korean Phrases for Beginners


Are you planning to visit Korea soon or simply interested in learning a new language? Look no further as we have got you covered! In this guide, we’ll take you through the basics of Korean language, starting from the most important phrases you need to know as a beginner. From simple greetings to basic expressions used in everyday conversation, you’ll be equipped with the fundamentals of Korean communication in no time. Whether you’re a complete newbie or just looking for a refresher, this guide is designed to help you learn the essentials of Korean language and culture. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Korean language and discover the beauty of its unique sounds and expressions. Let’s get started with Korean 101!

Importance of learning basic Korean phrases

Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea, and it is spoken by more than 75 million people worldwide. Learning Korean is not only useful for communication purposes, but it is also a great way to explore Korean culture and gain deeper insights into Korean society. Whether you’re traveling to Korea for business or leisure, knowing some basic Korean phrases can help you navigate your way around the city, make new friends, and show respect to the local people.

Moreover, Korean is a fascinating language that has a unique alphabet, grammar, and pronunciation system. By learning Korean, you can expand your horizons and challenge yourself to learn something new and exciting. In addition, learning a new language has been shown to improve cognitive function, memory retention, and problem-solving skills. So, why not give Korean a try and see how it can enrich your life?

Common Korean greetings and expressions

In Korean culture, it is important to greet people properly and show respect to others. Here are some common Korean greetings and expressions that you can use in everyday conversation:

– 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) – Hello

– 안녕 (annyeong) – Hi/Bye

– 잘 지내셨어요? (jal jinaesyeosseoyo?) – How have you been?

– 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida) – Thank you

– 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida) – I’m sorry

– 처음 뵙겠습니다 (cheoeum boepgesseumnida) – Nice to meet you

– 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo) – Excuse me

– 뭐라고요? (mworagoyo?) – What did you say?

– 실례합니다 (sillyehamnida) – Excuse me/I’m sorry

– 안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghi gyeseyo) – Goodbye (when the other person is staying)

– 안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo) – Goodbye (when the other person is leaving)

It is also important to know how to address people properly in Korean. For example, you should use the honorific form of speech (존댓말, jondaetmal) when speaking to someone who is older or in a higher position than you. On the other hand, you can use the informal form of speech (반말, banmal) when speaking to someone who is younger or in a lower position than you. By using the appropriate form of speech, you can show respect and avoid offending others.

Basic Korean sentence structure

Korean sentence structure is different from English sentence structure. In Korean, the basic sentence structure is subject-object-verb (SOV), which means that the subject comes first, followed by the object, and then the verb. For example, the sentence “I eat rice” would be “저는 밥을 먹어요” (jeoneun bapeul meogeo-yo) in Korean.

In addition, Korean verbs are conjugated based on the tense, honorific level, and politeness level. For example, the verb “to eat” (먹다, meokda) can be conjugated as follows:

– present tense: 먹어요 (meogeo-yo)

– past tense: 먹었어요 (meogeosseoyo)

– future tense: 먹을 거예요 (meogeul geoyeyo)

– honorific form: 드세요 (deuseyo)

– informal form: 먹어 (meogeo)

By understanding the basic sentence structure and verb conjugation rules, you can form simple sentences and express yourself in Korean.

Numbers, time, and dates in Korean

Knowing how to count in Korean is essential for shopping, ordering food, and telling time. Here are the Korean numbers from 1 to 10:

– 하나 (hana) – one

– 둘 (dul) – two

– 셋 (set) – three

– 넷 (net) – four

– 다섯 (daseot) – five

– 여섯 (yeoseot) – six

– 일곱 (ilgop) – seven

– 여덟 (yeodeol) – eight

– 아홉 (ahop) – nine

– 열 (yeol) – ten

For numbers from 11 to 99, you simply combine the words for the tens and ones. For example, 11 is 열하나 (yeolhana) and 99 is 구십구 (gusipgu). For numbers above 100, you use the Chinese-based number system, which can be a bit more complicated.

Telling time in Korean is also different from English. In Korean, you use the native Korean numbers for the hours and the Chinese-based numbers for the minutes. For example, 2:30 PM would be 오후 두 시 삼십 분 (ohu du si samsip bun) in Korean.

Dates in Korean are written in the order of year-month-day, which is the opposite of the standard format used in English-speaking countries. For example, January 1st, 2022 would be written as 2022년 1월 1일 (2022nyeon ilwol iril) in Korean.

Ordering food and drinks in Korean

Korean cuisine is known for its delicious and healthy dishes, and there are many restaurants and street vendors that offer a wide variety of dishes. Here are some basic phrases that you can use when ordering food and drinks in Korean:

– 메뉴판 주세요 (menyupan juseyo) – Can I have the menu, please?

– 이거 주세요 (igeo juseyo) – Can I have this, please?

– 매운 음식 좋아해요 (maeun eumsik johahaeyo) – I like spicy food

– 물 주세요 (mul juseyo) – Can I have water, please?

– 맥주 주세요 (maekju juseyo) – Can I have beer, please?

– 계산할게요 (gyesanhalgeyo) – I’ll pay the bill

– 식사 맛있게 먹었어요 (siksa masitge meogeosseoyo) – The meal was delicious

It is also important to know some basic table manners in Korean culture. For example, it is polite to wait for the oldest person or the guest of honor to start eating before you begin. In addition, you should use a spoon and chopsticks to eat, and avoid sticking your chopsticks into the rice bowl or passing food with chopsticks.

Shopping and bargaining in Korean

Korea is a shopper’s paradise, with many markets, malls, and specialty stores that offer a wide range of products at affordable prices. Here are some useful phrases that you can use when shopping and bargaining in Korean:

– 이거 얼마에요? (igeo eolmaeyo?) – How much is this?

– 너무 비싸요 (neomu bis-sayo) – It’s too expensive

– 살게요 (salgeyo) – I’ll buy it

– 할인해 주세요 (halinhae juseyo) – Can you give me a discount?

– 더 싸게 팔아 주세요 (deo ssage para juseyo) – Can you sell it to me for a lower price?

– 이거 색깔이 어때요? (igeo saekkkari eottaeyo?) – How does this color look?

– 이거 사이즈가 어때요? (igeo saijeu-ga eottaeyo?) – How does this size fit?

When bargaining in Korea, it is important to be polite and respectful, but also firm and confident. You can try to negotiate a lower price by pointing out any defects or flaws in the product, or by comparing prices with other stores. However, it is also important to know when to stop bargaining and accept a fair price.

Asking for directions in Korean

If you’re lost or need help finding your way around, don’t be afraid to ask for directions in Korean. Here are some phrases that you can use:

– 어디에 있어요? (eodie isseoyo?) – Where is it?

– 지도를 보여주세요 (jido-reul boyeojuseyo) – Can you show me the map?

– 이쪽으로 가주세요 (ijjogeuro gajuseyo) – Please go this way

– 왼쪽 (wenjjok) – Left

– 오른쪽 (oreunjjok) – Right

– 직진하세요 (jikjinhasayo) – Go straight

– 건너가세요 (geonneogaseyo) – Cross the street

In addition, it is helpful to know some basic landmarks and directions in Korean, such as train stations, bus stops, and famous tourist attractions. By understanding these basic phrases and landmarks, you can navigate your way around Korea with ease.

Korean culture and etiquette

Korean culture is rich and diverse, with a long history and unique traditions. Here are some aspects of Korean culture and etiquette that you should be aware of:

– Bowing: In Korean culture, bowing is a sign of respect and greeting. The deeper the bow, the more respect is shown. When greeting someone, it is common to bow slightly and say hello.

– Shoes: In Korean culture, shoes are considered dirty and should not be worn indoors. When entering a Korean home or traditional restaurant, you should take off your shoes and wear slippers instead.

– Age: In Korean culture, age is an important factor in social hierarchies and relationships. It is polite to use the appropriate form of speech and show respect to those who are older or in higher positions.

– Gift-giving: In Korean culture, gift-giving is a common practice for expressing gratitude and building relationships. Gifts should be wrapped neatly and given with both hands, and it is polite to refuse the gift at least once before accepting it.

– Eating: In Korean culture, meals are often shared and eaten family-style. It is polite to wait for the oldest person or the guest of honor to start eating first, and to use a spoon and chopsticks to eat.

By understanding these cultural norms and practices, you can show respect to the local people and avoid offending anyone.

Resources for learning Korean

There are many resources available for learning Korean, both online and offline. Here are some popular options:

– Language exchange programs: You can find language exchange partners online or in person to practice speaking Korean and learning about Korean culture.

– Language learning apps: There are many language learning apps such as Duolingo, Memrise, and Rosetta Stone that offer Korean courses.

– Language schools: You can enroll in a language school or institute to learn Korean in a structured and immersive environment.

– Korean dramas and music: Watching Korean dramas and listening to Korean music can help you improve your language skills and learn more about Korean culture.

By using these resources and practicing regularly, you can improve your Korean language skills and become more confident in your ability to communicate with native speakers.


Learning Korean can be a fun and rewarding experience that can open up new opportunities and experiences. By mastering some basic Korean phrases, you can improve your communication skills, show respect to the local people, and gain a deeper appreciation for Korean culture and society. Whether you’re planning to visit Korea or just interested in learning a new language, we hope that this guide has been helpful in your journey to becoming a Korean language learner. So, start practicing those basic phrases and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Korean language and culture!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here