Korean culture has taken the world in so many ways, from K-pop music to Korean dramas, and it’s no secret that the Korean language will help you immerse yourself in this fascinating culture even more.
Whether planning a trip to South Korea or just wanting to learn Korean to impress your Korean friends, mastering some famous Korean words and phrases is a great place to start.
This post will introduce you to 10+ famous Korean words and phrases you should learn first. From “annyeong” to “saranghae,” these words and phrases are extremely useful and will offer a glimpse into the unique and charming Korean culture. So grab your notebook, and let’s get started!
Famous Korean Words And Phrases You Should Learn First
1. Hello – 안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)
Annyeonghaseyo, or as we like to call it, the Korean “hello-howdy-hey-hi!” It’s the perfect word to greet anyone, anywhere, anytime. This is the most common word you’ll hear while walking in Korean streets or watching Kdramas, and it’s also a great way to strike up a conversation with any stranger.
But it’s not just a greeting. It’s also an expression of respect that shows you’re aware of the presence and importance of the person you’re speaking to.
Therefore, this is one of the first phrases most people study when they start learning Korean.
If you want to get into detail about how people greet each other in Korea, check out our guide on basic greetings in Korean, including bows.
2. Thank you – 감사합니다 (Gamsahamnida)
In Korean culture, showing gratitude and appreciation is highly valued. One of the most commonly used phrases to express gratitude is “Gamsahamnida” (감사합니다). It is a formal way of saying thank you and is used in most situations, whether receiving a gift or a compliment or even when someone holds the door open for you.
3. I love you – 사랑해 (Saranghae)
Saranghae (사랑해) is the famous Korean phrase for “I love you.” It’s a powerful and meaningful expression of love, often used between couples or family members.
In Korean culture, expressing love verbally is not as common as in Western cultures. However, when people say “saranghae,” it holds a lot of significance and strong emotions.
When people use this term, it can be accompanied by physical gestures such as holding hands or hugging. It’s also common to hear K-drama actors or K-pop singers using “saranghae,” adding emotional depth to the storyline or lyrics.
4. Sorry – 미안해 (Mianhae)
Mianhaeyo (미안해요) has made it to this list as it is a word that you can commonly hear in Korean media and in daily life. This term is one of the ways to say “sorry.”
Remember that the Korean language has levels of formality. In this case, the word 미안해요 (Mianhaeyo), although it ends in “요” (yo), depicting formality, is still used casually between people you are close with, such as family or friends.
The formal word to say sorry in Korean is “죄송해요” (joesonghaeyo) which you can use with people you are not close with, such as your boss or a professor.
If you’re unfamiliar with Korean culture, you might be surprised by how often Koreans apologize. But don’t worry—it’s just part of their nature! If you want to master apologizing in Korean and avoid awkward situations, check out our guide!
5. Yes – 네 (Ne)
Ne (네) is one of the most useful words in Korean, and it’s a great word to start learning. “네” (ne) literally means “yes,” but it also serves as an affirmation or approval.
You can use “ne” to answer “yes” to a question, or you can use it as a way to indicate that you agree with what someone else has said.
6. No – 아니요 (Aniyo)
This is a simple and straightforward way of saying “no” in Korean. Plenty of words and phrases in this language can be confusing, but “aniyo” (아니요) is one of the easiest terms you can learn.
“Aniyo” means “no,” but it’s used in many different ways. You can use it to answer a question or when you’re declining something. It can also be used to politely refuse someone’s offer or invitation.
7. Oh My! – 오모 (Omo)
If you’ve been watching Korean dramas and movies, you’ve probably heard this one often. This is a term you often hear in Korean dramas, but what does it mean?
Omo (오모) is an exclamation. The closer meaning is “Oh my,” and it’s used in various situations.
You’ll hear this phrase when someone is surprised or shocked by something that happened, and it can also be used as an expression of surprise when someone tells you something incredible.
8. Oh Dear! – 아이구 (Aigoo)
We’ve all heard this one before. It’s one of the most famous and common Korean phrases you can hear in K-dramas, especially by “ajummas” (아줌마).
(I’m sure that when you read it, you say it with ajumma voice!)
“Aigoo” is the go-to word for when you’re frustrated, you’ve done something embarrassing, or you’re just plain disappointed in everyday life. It’s also a way to express sympathy for someone else’s misfortune.
The meaning could be translated to “oh dear,” and it’s used in all sorts of situations—from being surprised by a friend’s new haircut to seeing someone spill their drink at a party.
9. Awesome! – 대박 (Daebak)
If you’ve watched any Korean dramas, you’ve probably heard characters say the word “daebak” a time or two. In fact, if you’re a fan of K-pop, you probably hear it all the time!
Like the word meaning “awesome” in English, daebak is used to express great admiration and excitement. It can be used both in the present and past tense. If you’re feeling super-impressed by something or someone, you can say, “daebak!”
10. Fighting! – 화이팅 (Hwaiting)
If you’re a K-drama fan, there’s a good chance you’ve heard this word before. Literally, it means “fighting,” and it represents the phrase “let’s do our best.”
It’s often used as an encouragement for someone starting something new or going through a difficult time. It can also be used as a cheer during sports events or when you’re watching a movie!
Some people say hwaiting is similar to “good luck” in English. However, there is one major difference: hwaiting doesn’t mean just good luck—it means good luck plus determination and strength!
When you hear hwaiting, it means that you have the power to overcome any obstacle and make your dreams come true.
More Famous Korean Phrases And Words You Should Learn
Here are some other Korean phrases and words that you can start using in daily conversations with your Korean friends.
Speak Korean Like A Pro
So, there you have it! Now that you’re armed with these 10+ famous Korean words and phrases, you’re well on your way to becoming a language master.
You’ll be able to impress your Korean-speaking friends, navigate your way through South Korea with ease, and even express your love for someone in a new language.
Remember, language learning is an ongoing process, and becoming fluent takes time and effort.
But don’t let that discourage you! With dedication and practice, you’ll be able to master these words and phrases and even move on to more advanced Korean vocabulary. If you want to become fluent in Korean, check out the Ling app!
Learn Korean With Ling
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From vocabulary-building exercises to grammar lessons and cultural insights, we’ve got you covered. So what are you waiting for?
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