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Essential Korean Phrases for Beginners

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Learning a new language is an exhilarating and rewarding challenge that can open doors to new cultures, people, and experiences. If you’re starting your journey into the Korean language, mastering a few essential phrases can make a world of difference when navigating everyday situations. Here are some key Korean phrases that every beginner should know, complete with their meanings and common usage.

안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)
Meaning: Hello
This is perhaps the most well-known Korean greeting, used at any time of the day.
친구를 만났을 때 “안녕하세요”라고 인사했어요.

감사합니다 (Gamsahamnida)
Meaning: Thank you
Express gratitude with this phrase, which is polite and suitable in most situations.
선물을 받고 나서 “감사합니다”라고 말했어요.

실례합니다 (Sillyehamnida)
Meaning: Excuse me
Use this phrase when you need to get someone’s attention or when you’re asking for forgiveness.
길을 물어볼 때 “실례합니다, 이 길로 가면 시장에 갈 수 있나요?”라고 물었어요.

죄송합니다 (Joesonghamnida)
Meaning: I’m sorry
When an apology is necessary, this formal expression is appropriate.
다리를 실수로 밟고 말해서 “죄송합니다”라고 했어요.

네 (Ne)
Meaning: Yes
This is the simple affirmation you need when agreeing to something or confirming.
누군가 나에게 질문을 하면, 내가 “네”라고 대답한다.

아니요 (Aniyo)
Meaning: No
Just as important as knowing how to say yes, “아니요” will help you decline or disagree.
“이것이 당신의 가방입니까?” “아니요, 그것은 제 가방이 아니에요.”

잠시만요 (Jamsimanyo)
Meaning: Just a moment/Wait a moment
This polite phrase is used to ask someone to wait briefly.
문을 두드릴 때, 안에서 “잠시만요”라는 소리가 들렸어요.

이거 얼마예요? (Igeo eolmayeyo?)
Meaning: How much is this?
When shopping, use this question to inquire about the price of an item.
가게에서 물건을 가리키며 “이거 얼마예요?”라고 물어봤어요.

화장실이 어디예요? (Hwajangshili eodieyo?)
Meaning: Where is the bathroom?
A crucial question for any traveler or beginner learner in new surroundings.
식당에 들어서자마자 “화장실이 어디예요?”라고 물었어요.

저는 (저 + 이름)입니다. (Jeoneun [je ireum]imnida.)
Meaning: My name is (I + name).
This is a formal way to introduce yourself with your name in Korean.
“안녕하세요, 저는 마이클입니다.”라고 소개했어요.

Remember that Korean has different levels of formality. The phrases above are polite and formal, suitable for most situations you will encounter as a beginner. Practice these phrases often, try to use them in real-life contexts, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes—that’s how we learn.

These essential phrases will be your first stepping stones into the rich and nuanced world of the Korean language. 화이팅! (Hwaiting! – “Fighting!” A word of encouragement and good luck.)

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