Do you know how to say hello in Korean? Learn when and how to say some basic phrases in Korean. You won't be scared of offending someone after reading my thorough explanations...

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1. 안녕하세요 – Hello


Let"s start with how to say hi in Korean:

안녕하세요 – Hello

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I want to begin with saying “hi” in Korean.

Most of you reading this post probably already the Korean for hello, am I right?

But if you can"t read Korean, let"s just memorize this phrase first.

I will tell you how to read the Korean alphabet (한글) later in Hangul Study :)

Ahn – 안

Nyung – 녕

Ha – 하

Se – 세

Yo – 요

Now you may ask, when should I use these? That"s a good question!

You are aware of the fact that the Korean language has polite manner of speaking, which is called honorifics in English, or 존댓말, 경어, 높임말 in Korean. A long time ago Korean honorifics expressed the differences in social status. For example, the difference in how you would speak to a king or a servant.

If you have a higher social class than someone, that person should speak to you using honorifics (the formal, polite way). However, today Korean honorifics is used when the person is older than you or has a higher social statusthan you do.

For example, you should say 안녕하세요 to your boss and 안녕 your intern. Or in school, 안녕 to your classmates, and 안녕하세요 to teachers.

Do you see what I mean?

A little tip here is that the longer version is the more formal way to say it.

안녕하세요 is a formal way to say “hi,” more like “hello,” instead of just throwing out, “hey hi.”

You don"t say, “Hey what"s up dog, Mr. Someone,” to your teacher. Well, to be fun, you can.

But not usually…right? And most Koreans don"t. That"s why we should know how to say 안녕하세요 first!

안녕 is a more friendly way to say “hi,” like saying “hi” to your friends.

안녕하세요 is used more if you are an adult. I also recommend it to be used to other adults (people older than you or same age as you). Additionally, you should also use this with people you should be polite to, such as your boss or a person you are meeting for the first time.

2. 제 이름은 – 에요 – My Name Is


제 이름은 – 에요 – My Name Is

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The first thing we say when meeting somebody would be “Hi” or “Hello.” Then when we converse with them for the first time, we introduce ourselves, right? Here you will need 제 이름은 ~ 에요.

제 이름은 ~ 에요 or “My name is” is composed of:

– my

이름은 – name

이에요 – is

So it means “My name (name) is” in Korean, which is ‘My name is (name)” in English. As you know, in Korean grammar the verb comes at the end of the sentence.

Like in English, it"s common in Korean that we don"t usually say, “My name is” to somebody. Instead, we would just say “Hi I am (name).”

We say 저는 ~ 에요 / 저는 ~ 입니다 (honorific) most of the time.

Let"s see some other example sentences:

“I am” could be both:

저는 ~ 에요저는 ~ 입니다

The difference between those two is that one is honorific. 저는 ~ 에요 is a polite but informal sentence to introduce yourself. Jeo-neun ~ e-yo could be used for your name, gender, or nationality.

For instance:

저는 여자에요 / 저는 남자에요

저는 ㅇㅇ에요

저는 한국인 이에요 / 저는 ㅇㅇ인 이에요

저는 ~ 입니다 - jeo-neun ~ ib-ni-da is the formal way; you can use it with your friends, but it may be a bit odd.

We use the formal version to speak to older people or to those who have a higher social status.

Since it also means “I am,” you could use it for your name, gender, and nationality. For example, “I am (name),” “I am a girl / boy / woman / man,” and “I am Korean.”

저는 (name) 입니다

저는 (여자 / 남자) 입니다

저는 한국인 입니다

Now, do you think you can come up with some sentences introducing yourself to me?

3. 만나서 반갑습니다 – Nice to Meet You


만나서 반갑습니다 – Nice to Meet You

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So we know how to meet a person and greet them: 안녕하세요. And tell him/her your name…

What"s next? We usually say, “It"s nice to meet you,” “Nice meeting you,” or “It"s an honor to meet you.”

How to saynice to meet youin Korean? 만나서 반갑습니다.

만나다 + 그래서 = 만나서

to meet + and = (to) meet

반갑다 + 읍니다 = 반갑습니다

glad/delightful + be = It is nice

만나뵙게 되어 반갑습니다 is also “Nice to meet you” using honorifics.

When you meet somebody older than you or somebody with higher social status you can say, 만나뵙게 되어 반갑습니다 (this is a very formal or polite way to speak using honorifics).

However, if your friend at a party introduces you to somebody else, you can say 만나서 반가워 (informal).

If you have a blind date you can say 만나서 반갑습니다 (formal polite) or 만나서 반가워요 (informal polite).

만나서 반갑습니다 is often used when you actually meet Korean people.

So practice this! And even if you don"t know any words in Korean, with 안녕하세요 and 만나서 반갑습니다 you would be very pleased to be in a Korean community :)

4. 고맙습니다 – Thank You


고맙습니다 – Thank You

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Let"s take a look at how to say thank you in Korean. Many people are confused between 고맙습니다 and 감사합니다. Yes they are the same, but why are there two “thank you” phrases?

고맙습니다 is originally from Korean. 감사합니다 (感謝 + 합니다) is from hanja (Chinese characters read in Korean).

On TV, such as the news or any other shows, Koreans need to use 고맙습니다 because it is originally Korean.

Officially, 감사합니다 was originally used after you received something, such as a gift from somebody.

고맙습니다 is just the phrase “thank you,” used when you accept a gift to show your appreciation.

When you don"t have something in return, you should say 고맙습니다 (for just thanking). But nowadays, most people in Korea (even many native speakers) don"t know it has this meaning. Some of them know the meaning, but many of them just think that 감사합니다 is more polite and not an official term. However this is not a rule.

You can say either 고맙습니다 or 감사합니다 :) We don"t really care. But when speaking, 감사합니다 is just easier to pronounce.

Like I said, they are pretty much same now. Nobody really thinks, “Hey, you used 감사합니다 incorrectly, it should be used when you give something in return.”


Even so, it"s always good to know what it really means and their differences.

Remember these:

고마워 – thanks

고마워요 – thank you (informal polite)

감사해요 – thank you (informal polite)

고맙습니다 – thank you (formal)

감사합니다 – thank you (formal)

And I"d also like to point out:

감사드립니다 (감사 + 드리다) – I appreciate it (honorific)

We don"t say 고맙드립니다. It doesn"t make a proper sentence.

감사해 (sometimes used in texts or messages) is not usually said. We just use ( + ) as a short way to say “thanks,” when we type in Korean (messages, forums, or community boards).

Do you have anyone to whom you want to say 고맙습니다?

5. 미안합니다 – I Am Sorry


미안합니다 – I Am Sorry

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미안합니다 is the formal way to say this, so when I feel sorry towards somebody I don"t know, I can say 미안합니다. But when I am talking to my friends, I would say 미안 or 미안해.

Just as English has a lot of expressions about being sorry, Korean also has many phrases to say sorry.

Here I wrote only three. They are about being sorry or guilty (but not feeling sorry for somebody who lost his or her cat).

미안합니다 is the formal one as I said before, so it would simply be, “I"m sorry.” This can be used with somebody whom you bump into when walking down the street, when you are in the subway, or if you step on somebody"s shoe.

미안해 is informal, which is also 반말. You don"t want to say this to your clients or boss,

but it is alright to say to your friends or family. This one is just “sorry.”

죄송합니다 is a heavy phrase to use if you really did something bad. When you feel sorry and are also ashamed of yourself, you might want to use this.

죄송해요 is the informal polite way. But we don"t use just 죄송해. This sounds strange to the ears.

In short:

죄송합니다 – I apologize (formal)

죄송해요 – I apologize/I am really sorry (informal polite)

미안합니다 – I am sorry (formal)

미안해요 – I am sorry (informal polite)

미안해 – sorry (friendly informal)

I often say 죄송합니다. I don"t know why. 미안합니다 is not a common phrase to me. When I feel sorry, I just say 죄송합니다 (even in the subways and buses).

I guess it shows your personality by choosing which one you like to use. If you really care about respectfulness, then you might speak like me using 죄송합니다 often. But if you are just sorry and don"t think that it is a big deal, you can simply say 미안합니다.


When you are new to the Korean language, or any language, the best way to approach it is to learn short phrases first.

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For example, greetings, asking names, and other things like that.

You can read my FREE ebook titled “101+ Easy Korean Phrases” for more phrases :)

It"s available from

And if you like my article, please answer this question for me! How else can I help you learn Korean?

Thank you so much for reading this article. You can read all of them in more detailed posts, atDinophia