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3 Basic Korean Phrases To Pick Up For Your Travel To Korea

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Even without having to master a foreign language, learning a set of words and phrases can be more than sufficient if you wish to navigate through the foreign land. The Korean language is relatively easy to pick up, compared to many other languages. That said, there are several things to take note when you wish to speak to a native speaker.

Significant differences between Korean and English 

  • Korean is a syllable-timed language. This means that every word stress is insignificant, unlike that of English. The rhythm and intonation correspond to each individual syllable.
  • The Korean language has a different sentence structure compared to English. Basic Korean sentences comprise of the order of subject-object-predicate. For instance, if you’d like to write the Korean equivalent to “I like chocolates”, it’d be “I chocolates like”.
  • As with most Asian languages, their language reflects the social hierarchy and certain speech forms are only appropriate at specific circumstances. The Korean language has six formal speech forms and one informal speech forms. When speaking to a stranger or someone older than you, it is imperative that you use formal speech. Jondaemal is the common polite form that most Koreans use. In this form, you often add –요 (yo) at the end of the sentence to indicate formality and politeness.

Keeping in mind those tips, here are some common Korean phrases that you should pick up first.

1. Please and Thank You

The first few things you need to learn are, of course, your please and thank you. It is not only as a form of politeness but it helps to give a favourable impression when you are requesting something.

Like in English, you add please at the end of the sentence. You add 주세요 (ju-se-yo) at the end of your sentence.

Thank you is written as 감사합니다 (gam-sa-ham-ni-da).

2. Where Is _

If you’re a foreigner that has Korea as one of your travel destinations, you will most likely need to ask for directions. It is thus helpful to at the very least know how to build a sentence in order to ask a native speaker.

As we’ve mentioned before, the Korean sentence structure is different compared to English sentence structures. To ask where something is, you add 어디예요? (eo-di-ye-yo) to the end of your sentence. So add your destination before 어디예요. For instance, to ask where is the train station, you’d say it as  기차역이 어디예요? (gi-cha-yeog-i eo-di-ye-yo).

3. Do You Have _

If you found yourself wanting to ask whether a particular item is available or you’d want to request for something, it’s simple! Similar to asking where something is, you just have to add 있어요 (i-sseo-yo) at the end of your sentence structure. For instance, if you wish to ask whether a waiter if they have napkins, you’d say it as
냅킨 있어요 (naeb-kin i-sseo-yo).


These are some of the common phrases that you should acquaint yourself with to ease your interaction with native Korean speakers. They are also the first crucial step in your quest to master several vocabularies of the Korean language. Of course, if you wish to expand your vocabulary, enrolling in Korean classes in Singapore is an option. Here, you’d improve your vocabulary and learn more language rules, and in time, you’ll be able to have a full conversation in Korean!

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