5 Most Important Korean Phrases to Learn First

5 Most Important Korean Phrases to Learn First
Photo by Daniel Bernard / Unsplash

Whether you are going on a short trip to Korea, or you simply want to learn the Korean language, you will have to start somewhere. It can be daunting to figure out where to start but this list will jumpstart your Korean learning with the 5 most important phrases you need to know as a beginner.

1. Hello – 안녕하세요 [annyeong-haseyo]
When you are greeted by someone, whether it be in the shops or on the street, you will hear this word. 안녕하세요 [a-nyeong-ha-se-yo] is the formal, polite way to say hello in Korean and is the most important for you to know when you are just beginning learning Korean or if you are in need of some simple travel Korean. A fun fact about this word: it has the literal meaning of ‘be in peace’.

2. Goodbye – 안녕히 가세요 [annyeonghi gaseyo] / 안녕히 계세요 [annyeonghi gyeseyo]

There are actually two phrases for the formal polite way to say goodbye in Korean, and which one you use depends on the situation. You may have noticed they sound very similar to each other, and they also sound similar to the phrase for “hello”. This is because the two phrases for goodbye also have the literal meaning of ‘go in peace’ and ‘stay in peace’. By looking at their literal meanings you may have a better understanding of what situations they are each used in. 안녕히 가세요 [annyeong-hi gaseyo] is used when the person(s) you are speaking to are the ones leaving, or when you are going separate ways. 안녕히 계세요 [annyeong-hi gyeseyo] is used when you are leaving, but the person(s) you are speaking to are staying.

3. Yes – 네 [ne]One of the most important Korean phrases to learn is also the simplest. The word for yes in Korean is 네 [ne].

4. No – 아니요 [aniyo]Whether it’s to show disagreement or to answer a question, another extremely important expression to know is ‘no’ which in Korean is 아니요 [aniyo].

5. Thank you – 감사합니다 [gamsahamnida]Once you’ve had a conversation or exchange with a Korean person, of course you will want to thank them for their time, and the phrase for thank you in Korean is 감사합니다 [gamsahamnida]

Once you’ve learned these expressions, you’ll be able to have some simple conversations with Koreans. They will surely appreciate the effort and initiative you have put into the beginning of your Korean learning journey and you may even make some friends along the way!