Korean Pronouns: The 3+ Easy Types

Korean Pronouns

Are you interested in learning Korean pronouns and their conjugations? Fortunately, you can learn Korean pronouns quickly, as it is not as complicated as the rules in other foreign languages. This blog has all the information that you need about Korean pronouns, so let’s dive in!

Mastering the Korean language? It takes effort and daily practice to memorize the grammar rules and vocabulary. Yet, it’s also essential to go through parts of speeches, especially Korean pronouns. This blog will walk you through all the types of pronouns in the Korean language and teach you how to use each of them to spice up your language skills.

What Is Basic Korean Grammar?

Pronouns play a massive role in Korean grammar since they are used to talking about someone without knowing much about them. However, the role is limited because, in grammar (colloquial and oral mostly), Koreans tend to form sentences without using pronouns. They do not always need pronouns to refer to someone.

Shocking right? And you might wonder, “How do they know what/ whom the people are talking about?” Well, the answer is short and straightforward: “context.” The context of a sentence helps Korean people know who/ what they are talking about.

For example, when we say “she did that” in a group of people, everyone gets whom we are talking about, right? That’s all because of the context. Context is the situation that occurs at a certain time and can be used as a reference to get the entire story/ picture. The Korean language is majorly based on context. There are many things that they omit or add to their sentences based solely on the context. Nevertheless, it is equally important to know and use Korean pronouns where needed.

Polite Form Of the Korean Language

Before diving into the complexities of the Korean language, it is important to know that, unlike the English language, there are different ways to address people. Polite ways and non-polite ways are a part of spoken Korean culture. Native speakers use polite speech (formal language) while speaking to individuals of a higher position professionally (boss, lawyer, etc.) and culturally (mother, grandfather, etc.). These are present in both written form and spoken form.

Korean Personal Pronouns

There are three main types of Korean personal pronouns: first-person, second-person, and third-person. These three types have both singular and plural forms. The first-person pronouns give an idea about the person talking in a particular conversation: “I” a person is talking about people with them, then they can use “we.”

Second-person pronoun means the pronoun that is used to refer to the person that one is talking to, which is “you” in English for both singular and plural. The third-person pronoun is used to talk about someone or something which is not present at the moment. For instance, he, she, it, etc.

Here are a few of the personal pronouns in Korean:

  • I โ€“ ๋‚˜ (na)
  • You โ€“ ๋„ˆ (neo)
  • He โ€“ ๊ทธ (geu)
  • She โ€“ ๊ทธ๋…€ (geu nyeo)
  • We โ€“ ์šฐ๋ฆฌ (uri)
  • They โ€“ ๊ทธ๋“ค (geu deul)

Let’s learn more in details below.

Korean Pronouns First Person

First Person Pronouns In Korean

There are two ways to talk about oneself in singular pronouns first-person, ์ € (jeo) and ๋‚˜ (na). These are the two most commonly used words. The first one, ์ € (jeo), is a formal tone pronoun. This means that while talking to anyone with whom you are supposed to use honorifics and polite manners, you should use ์ € (jeo).

๋‚˜ (an), on the other hand, needs to be used while talking to someone who is close to you, younger than you, or the same age as you. This informal pronoun should never be used with older people and strangers (especially your age or older) since it can offend them.

In first-person plural pronouns, two words are used ์ €ํฌ (jeohui) and ์šฐ๋ฆฌ (u ri). The first pronoun ์ €ํฌ (jeohui) is the polite form of the pronoun, while the second ์šฐ๋ฆฌ (uri) is the informal form.

Second Person Pronouns In Korean

In the second-person form, there are two words in Korean: ๋‹น์‹  (dang sin) and ๊ทธ๋Œ€ (geudae). It refers to the person/ persons spoken to and has different forms (both formal and informal).

To talk to someone in a polite way or formal tone in Korean, ๋‹น์‹  (dangsin) is the most common word used by Korean speakers. Another formal word for “you” is ๊ทธ๋Œ€ (geudae). This word is not as common as ๋‹น์‹  (dangsin), and there are very few people who use this word. Mainly the use of ๊ทธ๋Œ€ (geudae) can only be found in songs or poetry.

While talking informally to someone, ๊ทธ์ชฝ(geujjog) and ๋„ˆ (neo) are used. There are different arguments about which one to use in what situations. The other Korean pronoun for second-person ๋„ˆ (neo) is usually widely accepted and generally heard while talking to someone informally in Korean.

However, if you do not know someone and are unsure if you can already use the informal tone, then ๊ทธ์ชฝ(geujjog) is the best option for you. Since it is polite and can be used for people around your age or even younger, these are the second-person singular forms.

To make the second person plural form of each word, you can add ๋“ค (deul) for formal and ํฌ/ ๋„ค (hui/ ne) for informal. So according to this rule ๋‹น์‹  (dangsin) and ๊ทธ๋Œ€ (geudae) will become ๋‹น์‹ ๋“ค (dangsin-deul) and ๊ทธ๋Œ€๋“ค (geudae-deul).

With the same rule applied, ๋„ˆ (neo) becomes ๋„ˆ๋„ค (neo ne) and ๋„ˆํฌ(neo hui), and both can be used for informal. These can be roughly translated to you guys or ya’ll. All of these have the same meaning but different use.

Note* Among married couples, it is seen that the pronoun ๋‹น์‹  (dangsin) is used to be polite with each other and show a nice, kind, and loving gesture. So if you plan to marry a Korean person, make sure to learn all about this pronoun.

Third Person Pronouns In Korean

There are three most common third-person singular pronouns: ๊ทธ (geu), ๊ทธ๋…€ (geunyeo), and ๊ทธ๊ฒƒ (geugeos). The first on ๊ทธ (geu) is used to address a male third person i.e he. ๊ทธ๋…€ (geunyeo) is used to talk about a female third-person singular i.e she. ๊ทธ๊ฒƒ (geugeos) is used for any object/ animal that a person is talking about i.e it.

The terms for the plural of third-person forms are ๊ทธ๋“ค (geudeul) and ๊ทธ๋…€๋“ค (geunyeodeul). The first one, ๊ทธ๋“ค (geudeul), is used to refer to a group of males, while the second one, ๊ทธ๋…€๋“ค (geunyeodeul), is used to refer to a group of females.

Korean Interrogative Pronouns

Different Korean interrogative pronouns can be used to ask questions. Here is a table that provides a guide to those pronouns. Here is a table with the most common Korean question words/ interrogative pronouns:

Interrogative English PronounsInterrogative Korean Pronouns
What๋ญ (mwo)
Where์–ด๋”” (eodi)
How many๋ช‡ (myeot)
How์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ (eotteoke)
Why์™œ (wae)
What (kind of)๋ฌด์Šจ (museun)
What kind of์–ด๋–ค (eotteon)
How much์–ผ๋งˆ (eolma)
Who๋ˆ„๊ตฌ (nugu)
When์–ธ์ œ (eonje)
How many/ much/ long์–ผ๋งˆ๋‚˜ (eolmana)
Which์–ด๋Š (eoneu)

To learn more about them, please check out our blog on Korean question words.

Other Korean Pronouns And Words To Use

Other Korean Pronouns And Words To Use

You might be wondering how you can talk politely about someone without taking their name and using the words you, he, she, etc. Here are some ways that you can do it.

์”จ (Ssi)/ ๋‹˜ (Nim)

In Korea, it is common to refer to someone by a certain title or name that they have. Two words can be used in this regard ์”จ (ssi) and ๋‹˜ (nim).

There is a difference in the usage of these two terms. The ์”จ (ssi) is used when you are referring to someone (or talking about someone) using their name. For instance, if you know a person names ๊น€๋‚จ์ค€ (gimnamjun), you can call them ๊น€๋‚จ์ค€ ์”จ (gimnamjun ssi). This only shows that you are giving them some respect.

The second-word ๋‹˜ (nim) is used when you are talking to someone (or talking about someone) using their job/ occupation title. For instance, you could be talking to a lawyer and use the words ๋ณ€ํ˜ธ์‚ฌ๋‹˜(byeonhosanim). ๋‹˜ (nim) is a level higher than ์”จ (ssi) in honorifics.

It is important to use the formal tone/ polite tone with people while talking to them using ์”จ (ssi) and ๋‹˜ (nim) because these are two honorifics.

Using Kinship Terms In Korea

In Korea, people are connected to each other. They give extreme importance to the relations among each other, and this is an Asian phenomenon since most Asian countries tend to do this. While going to a market/ other places, people tend to address each other using various kinship terms, e.g., brother, uncle, aunt, etc.

Here is a table for you to remember some common kinship terms to refer to someone in an informal or even slightly formal setting:

English TranslationKinship TermsRomanized PronunciationsExplanations
Sister์–ธ๋‹ˆeonniThis is a term that usually the girls use to address women who are older than them.
Brother์˜ค๋น oppaThis is a term that usually the girls use to address men who are older than them.
Sister๋ˆ„๋‚˜nunaThis is a term that usually the boys use to address women who are older than them.
Brotherํ˜•hyeongThis is a term that usually the boys use to address men who are older than them.
Miss์•„๊ฐ€์”จagassiIf there is a complete stranger then you can use this term to address them. It can be used for any young girl.
Madame์•„์คŒ๋งˆajummaFor a middle aged woman, you can use this. This however might offend them so only use if you are sure that she is okay with being called like that.
Madam์•„์ฃผ๋จธ๋‹ˆajumeoniA good alternative for middle-aged women which might not offend them since it is relatively more polite.
Mister์•„์ €์”จajeossiA good alternative for middle-aged women might not offend them since it is relatively more polite.
Grandmaํ• ๋จธ๋‹ˆhalmeoniTo refer to very old women, this can be used. This will not offend an extremely old woman since they usually have accepted the truth about their age.
Grandfatherํ• ์•„๋ฒ„์ง€har-abeojiThis term can be used for a very old man.

Adding ๋‹˜ (nim) to ํ˜• (hyeong) makes it more formal.

Subject Pronouns

The subject pronouns in Korean are not the same as other pronouns. There are two ways to write each pronoun: in the form of subject and in the form of topic. The subject in a Korean sentence is written at the start of the sentence. It is usually marked with a topic marker “์ด/๊ฐ€” or a subject marker “์€/๋Š”” with the nouns as subject to be specific.

Here is a table for you to learn all the pronouns as the topic of the sentence as well as the subject of the sentence:

Pronouns as the subjectPronounsPronouns as the subjectPronouns as the topic
์ € (jeo)I (Polite form)์ €๋Š” (jeoneun)์ œ๊ฐ€ (jega)
๋‚˜( na)I (Informal form)๋‚˜๋Š” (naneun)๋‚ด๊ฐ€ (naega)
์ €ํฌ (jeohui)We (polite)์ €ํฌ๋Š” (jeohuineun)์ €ํฌ๊ฐ€ (jeohuiga)
์šฐ๋ฆฌ (uri)We (informal)์šฐ๋ฆฌ๋Š” (urieun)์šฐ๋ฆฌ๊ฐ€ (uriga)
๋‹น์‹ ๋“ค (dangsindeul)You (Polite)๋‹น์‹ ๋“ค์€ (dangsindeuleun)๋‹น์‹ ๋“ค์ด (dangsindeuli)
๊ทธ๋Œ€๋“ค (geudaedeul)You (Polite)๊ทธ๋Œ€๋“ค์€ (geudaedeuleun)๊ทธ๋Œ€๋“ค์ด (geudaedeuli)
๋„ˆํฌ (neohui)You (Informal)๋„ˆํฌ๋Š” (neohuineun)๋„ˆํฌ๊ฐ€ (neohuiga)
์ž๋„ค (jane)You (Informal)์ž๋„ค๋Š” (janeneun)์ž๋„ค๊ฐ€ (janega)
๊ทธ (geu)He (Neutral)๊ทธ๋Š” (geuneun)๊ทธ๊ฐ€ (geuga)
๊ทธ๋…€ (geunyeo)She (Neutral)๊ทธ๋…€๋Š” (geunyeoneun)๊ทธ๋…€๊ฐ€ (geunyeoga)
Korean Pronouns Possessive

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are those pronouns that represent a sense of belonging. For instance, my, his, her, etc in English. There are specific words that represent the state of belonging in Korea. In Korean grammar, possessive pronouns are called ์†Œ์œ  ๋Œ€๋ช…์‚ฌ (soyu daemyeongsa).

There is a simple rule in Korean to turn all the pronouns into possessive pronouns. It is to add ๊ฒƒ/ ๊บผ (geos/ kkeo) after any pronoun. The word ๊ฒƒ (geos) roughly translates to “thing” in English. Adding ๊ฒƒ (geos) indicates that this thing is mine.

You have already learned how to use ์”จ (ssi)/ ๋‹˜ (nim). This step involved adding ๊ฒƒ (geos) to make that a possessive pronoun. Taking the previous example, ๊น€๋‚จ์ค€ ์”จ ๊ฒƒ (gimnamjun ssi geos) will mean “Mr. Kimnamjun’s.” Similarly, ๋ณ€ํ˜ธ์‚ฌ๋‹˜ ๊ฒƒ (byeonhosanim geos) will mean “Lawyer’s.”

The difference between ๊ฒƒ and ๊บผ (geos and kkeo) is that ๊ฒƒ (geos) is used at an informal level as compared to ๊บผ (kkeo), which is used mostly for formal situations. Using these roughly translates the possession to “mine, yours, etc.)

Adding ์˜(ui) turns a pronoun into its possessive form. But you would not always see some words written with ์˜ (ui), like ๋‚ด (nae). The reason behind that is that those words are shortened to avoid redundancy.

์ €์˜ (jeo-ui) is shortened to ์ œ (jae), ๋‚˜์˜ (na-ui) is shortened to ๋‚ด (nae), ๋„ˆ์˜ (neo-ui) is shortened to ๋‹ˆ (ni), ์ €ํฌ์˜ becomes ์ €ํฌ (jeo-hui), and finally, ์šฐ๋ฆฌ์˜ (u-ri-ui) becomes ์šฐ๋ฆฌ(uri)

Here is a table with all the Korean words that you need to know about while referring to something or someone:

English TranslationsPronounsKorean PronounsRomanized KoreanKorean Sentences
My arm hurtsMy๋‚ด (Informal form)nae๋‚ด ํŒ”์ด ์•„ํŒŒ.
nae par-i apa
My friend is dead.
My name is…
My์ œ (Polite form)Jae์ œ ์นœ๊ตฌ๊ฐ€ ์ฃฝ์—ˆ์–ด์š”.
Jae chinguga jug-eoss-eoyo.
์ œ ์ด๋ฆ„์€ … ์ด์—์š”.
je ileum-eun … ieyo.
Where is your cat?Your๋‹น์‹  (Polite form)dangsin๋‹น์‹  ๊ณ ์–‘์ด๋Š” ์–ด๋””์— ์žˆ์Šต๋‹ˆ๊นŒ?
dangsin goyang-ineun eodie issseubnikka?
Give me your copy.Your๋‹ˆ (Informal form)Ni๋‹ˆ ๋ณต์‚ฌ ์ค˜
ni bogsa jwo
Our friend is here.Our์šฐ๋ฆฌ (Informal form)uli์šฐ๋ฆฌ ์นœ๊ตฌ๊ฐ€ ์—ฌ๊ธฐ ์žˆ์–ด์š”.
uli chinguga yeogi iss-eoyo.
His face is beautiful.His๊ทธ์˜ (Neutral form)geuui๊ทธ์˜ ์–ผ๊ตด์€ ์•„๋ฆ„๋‹ต์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.
geuui eolgul-eun aleumdabseubnida.
This is her box.Her๊ทธ๋…€์˜ (Neutral form)geunyeoui์ด๊ฒƒ์€ ๊ทธ๋…€์˜ ์ƒ์ž์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.
igeos-eun geunyeoui sangjaibnida.
Their turn is coming.Their๊ทธ๋“ค์˜ (Neutral form)geudeul-ui๊ทธ๋“ค์˜ ์ฐจ๋ก€๊ฐ€ ์˜ค๊ณ  ์žˆ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.
geudeul-ui chalyega ogo issseubnida.

K-Pop Corner

Here is a table with some lines from K-pop for you to learn pronouns:

Lines from songsEnglish TranslationsSong NameArtist
๋‚œ ๋‚ด ์–˜๊ธธ ๋“ค๋ ค์ค„๊ฒŒ ๋“ค๋ ค์ค„๊ฒŒ
nan nae yaegil deullyeojulge deullyeojulge
I’ll tell you my story, I’ll tell you.Magic ShopBTS
๋„ˆ์˜ ํ•˜๋Š˜์„ ๊ณผ์—ฐ ์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ ์ˆ˜๋†“์„์ง€
neoui haneul-eul gwayeon eotteohge sunoh-eulji
How will you embroider your sky?Magic ShopBTS
๋‚˜์˜ ์ ˆ๋ง ๋์—
naui jeolmang kkeut-e
At the end of my despair.Magic ShopBTS
์ € ์€ํ•˜์ˆ˜๋ฅผ ์˜ฌ๋ ค๋‹ค๋ณด๋ฉฐ
jeo eunhasuleul ollyeodabomyeo
I am looking up that milky way.Magic ShopBTS
๋‹ˆ ๋ฉ‹๋Œ€๋กœ ์‚ด์–ด ์–ด์ฐจํ”ผ ๋‹ˆ ๊บผ์•ผ
ni meosdaelo sal-eo eochapi ni kkeoya
Live your way, it’s yours anywayFireBTS
๋‚ด ํ”ผ ๋•€ ๋ˆˆ๋ฌผ ๋‚ด ๋งˆ์ง€๋ง‰ ์ถค์„
nae pi ttam nunmul nae majimag chum-eul
My blood sweat tears my last danceBlood Sweat and TearsBTS
์™œ ํ•ด๋ณด๊ธฐ๋„ ์ „์— ์ฃฝ์—ฌ ๊ฑ”๋„จ?
wae haebogido jeon-e jug-yeo gyaenen
Why kill them before they even try?DopeBTS
๋‹ˆ๊ฐ€ ํด๋Ÿฝ์—์„œ ๋†€ ๋•Œ.
niga keulleob-eseo nol ttae.
When you play in the clubDopeBTS

In songs, people tend to use the informal form of Korean pronouns.

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Have you learned more about Korean? For more Korean lessons, feel free to check out other blogs. We also have blogs on Korean prepositions and directions in Korean.

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