Learning Korean has become more common as Korea has quickly become one of the most popular destinations in Asia, so it's no wonder you're interested in picking up some common Korean phrases.
From it’s delicious foods to world-famous culture, including K-Pop and Korean Drama, it's no surprise that people are drawn to what was formerly known as the Hermit Kingdom back in the 19th century.
Whether you’re planning on moving to Korea for the rest of your life or just want to watch your favorite show without subtitles, a little Korean will go a long way in creating a solid foundation for your language learning goals.
That’s why I’ve put together 70+ common Korean phrases that will help you do everything from say hello, makes friends, find your way around town, and much more.
And to make things nice and digestible, I’ve divided the phases into main sections and have included both the Korean form and the romanisation to help you pronounce it.
But it's always best to listen to how native speakers talk as well as learn the fundamentals of reading Korean since the romanisations are not perfect equivalents.
Be sure to keep this list handy on your smartphone. That way, if you ever have any trouble, you can just show it to whoever you’re trying to talk to. It will break a great ice breaker and way to start a conversation. Let’s jump right in!
1. Korean Greetings
No matter where you go in the world, you always need to know the proper greeting. It’s the best way to make a positive first impression. Fortunately, these greetings come up all the time. You’ll hear them on the streets, on TV, and everywhere so it makes learning them a breeze.
Be sure to practice these often:
- #1 안녕하세요! – Hello, Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening.
- An-young ha-say-yo!
- #2 안녕! -Hello / Hi (informal). If you don’t know someone well, then use Anyoung haseyo.
- #3 오랜만이에요- Long Time, No see
- #4 밥 먹었어요? – How are you (literally, did you eat rice)? Good way to show you care.
- Bap meo-geo-seo-yo
2. Korean Small Talk
Small talk isn't only polite; it's a good way to practice your speaking and listening skills. Doing so in Korean may be a little challenging at first, but power through it. People will appreciate that you are making an effort. This is a great way to build your confidence and get a feel for the rhythm of conversations in Korean.
Don't be put off if people giggle when you try to speak some of these phrases. Usually, it's because they're happy to see foreigners making an effort to speak their language. So embrace it!
- #5 어떻게 지내세요? – How are you
- Eott-eoh-gay ji-nae-say-yo?
- #6 요즘 어때? – How are you (more informal, literally how are things lately)
- Yo-jeum eo-ttae?
- #7 잘지내요 – I’ve been good (reply to how are you)
- #8 식사하셨어요? – Did you have a good meal? (how are you, good for mealtimes)
- Shiksa hashutsuyo?
- #9 이름이 뭐예요? – What is your name?
- E-reum-e mwo-ay–yo
- #10 제 이름은 존이에요? – My name is John
- Jae e-reum-un John-e-ay-yo
- #11 제 이름은 ___________이에요?
- Jae e-reum-un ________-e-ay-yo
3. Being Polite In Korean
Politeness is in every society, but it can be particularly important in Korean. That’s because despite what you might see on TV and online, the culture there can be pretty formal. That means you’ll be using these expressions daily.
- #12 감사합니다 – Thank you.
- #13 고맙습니다 – Thank you (a little less formal)
- #14 고마워 – Thanks
- #15 천만에요 – You’re welcome (not said very frequently)
- #16 괜찮아요 – It’s okay (often used for you’re welcome instead, also means I’m okay)
- #17 부탁합니다 – Please (literally translated “as a favor’)
- #18 잠시만요 – Excuse me/Just a moment (Good making your way through crowded places)
- #19 실례합니다 – Excuse me (Good for speaking, but also can be used for crowded places)
- #20 죄송합니다 – Sorry (formal)
- #21 미안합니다 – Sorry (less formal)
- #22 미안(해) – Sorry (Informal, only use with friends)
- Mi-an (hae)
4. Dealing With Problems In Korean
Things don’t always go smoothly. That’s just life! If you’re having a little trouble understanding somebody or need a few pointers, these phrases will help you out.
- #23 이해해요 – I understand
- #24 이해 못해요 – I don’t understand
- #25 * 못못해요 (moat-hae-yo) means I can’t do it. You can use this often like if you can’t eat another bite because you’re full, something is too challenging, etc.). To say you can do something, it’s 해요 (hae-yo) meaning I can do it.
- #26 알아요 – I know
- #27 몰라요 – I don’t know
- #28 한국말을 할 수 있어요? – Can you speak Korean?
- hanguk-mal-eul hal su iss-eo-yo
- #29 영어를 할 수 있어요? – Can you speak English?
- yeong-eo-mal-eul hal su iss-eo-yo
- #30 한국말을 조금 할 수 있어요 – I can speak a little Korean
- hanguk-mal-eul jo-geum hal-su iss-eo-yo
- #31 한국말을 못해요 – I can’t speak Korean
- hanguk-mal-eul mo-tae-yo
- #32 타이거가 한국말로 뭐예요? – How do you say tiger in Korean
- tai-geo-ga hanguk-mal-lo mwo-yae-yo?
- #33 다시 한번 말씀해주세요? – Can you please say that again
- Da-shi han-beon mal-seum-hae ju-sae-yo
- #34 한국말 배워요 – I’m learning Korean
- Han-guk-mal bae-wo-yo
- #35 적어 주세요! -Please write it down
- cheo-geo juseyo!
- #36 천천히 말씀해 주세요 – Please speak more slowly
- Cheon-cheon-hi mal-seum-hae ju-sae-yo
5. Korean Question Words
Asking questions is the key to conversations and also helping you navigate around everything. Aside from basic greetings, you’ll want to put extra emphasis on memorizing these words as soon as possible.
- #37 왜- Why
- #38 어디- Where
- #39 뭐 – What
- #40 어느 – Which
- #41 언제 – When
- #42 어떻게- How
- #43 누가/누구- Who
- #44 어떤 – What kind of
- #45 무슨- Which
- #46 얼마/얼마나 – How much/how many
Here are some examples of common questions you’ll hear and use in everyday conversations.
- #47 어디에서 왔어요? – Where are you from?
- eo-die-seo wass-eo-yo
- #48 저는 미국에서 왔어요 – I’m from the US
- Jeo-neun mi-guk-ay-so wass-eo-yo (Swap “mi-guk” for wherever you’re from)
- #49 몇 살이에요?- How old are you?
- my-eot sar-ie-yo
- #50 저는 ______살이에요. I am _______years old (Save this until you’ve learned the numbers in Korean)
- #51 화장실은 어디에 있어요?- Where is the bathroom?
- hwa-jang-sir-eun eo-die iss-eo-yo?
- #52 이게 얼마예요? – How much is this?
- i-gay eol-my-eyo?
- #53 여기에서 멀어요?- Is it far from here?
- yeo-gie-seo meo-reo-yo?
- #54 여기에서 얼마나 걸리는지 아세요? – How far is it from here?
- yeo-gie-seo eol-mana geo-llin-eun-ji as-eyo?
- #55 멀어요 – It’s far
- #56 멀지 않아요- It’s not far
- Meol-gi anh-a-yo
- #57 가까워요- It’s close
- #58 여기에서 1킬로정도 멀어요 – It’s about 1 KM from here
- yeo-gie-seo il-killo-jeong-do meo-reo-yo
- #59 강남역 어디인지 아세요? Do you know where Gangnam Station is?
- Gang-nam-yeok eo-di-in-gi a-say-yo
6. Important Answers In Korean
Here are a few basic answers to questions that you’ll find yourself using frequently. You'll especially hear them when Koreans talk on the phone. Sometimes, an entire conversation will consist of just people saying 네 (yes)!
- #61 네/예 – Yes
- #62 아니요 – No
- #63 아마도- Amado
- #64 항상 – Always
- #65 결코 …않다: Never (Never in Korean is a little tricky)
- #66 자주- Often
- #67 가끔 – Sometimes
7. Korean Special Occasions
Whether you’ve just made a new best friend or are celebrating Lunar New Year, these phrases for special occasions will always come in handy.
- #68 건배!- Cheers
- #69 축하해요 – Congratulations
- #70 만나서 반가워요 – Nice to meet you
- Man-neo-seo ban-ka-weo-yo
- #71 생일 축하합니다 – Happy birthday
- Saeng-il chuk-ha-ham-ni-da
- #72 메리 크리스마스 – Merry Christmas
- me-ri keu-ri-seu-ma-seu
- #73 새해 복 많이 받으세요! – Happy New Year (Also used for Lunar New Year)
- Sae-hae bok man-hi bahd-eu-say-yo
- #74 즐거운 추석 보내세요 – Happy Chuseok (Literally “Have a joyful Chuseok”)
- jeul-geo-on chu-seok bo-nay-say-yo
8. Saying Goodbye In Korean
You never know when it’s going to come time to say goodbye. In Korean, you have a lot of different options for parting words. The occasion and whom you’re speaking to will determine the appropriate one to use.
- #75 안녕히 가세요. Goodbye (to the person leaving. Literally, “go in peace”)
- An-nyeong-hi ka-say-yo
*If you’re both leaving then use this one.
- #76 안녕히 계세요 – Goodbye (to the person stay, Literally “stay in peace)
- An-nyeong-hi kay-say-yo
- #77 안녕- Bye (informal)
- #78 잘 가요 – Goodbye (Go well)
- Jal ga-yo
- #79 다음에 봐요- See you later
- Da-eum-ay bwa-yo
- #80 내일 봐요- See you tomorrow
- naeil bwa
A Few Bonus Common Korean Phrases
Here are a few extras that will definitely come in handy and as well as few local expressions that will impress your new Korean friends.
- #81 사랑해 – I love you
- #82좋아해 – I like it
- #83 진짜요? – Really?
- #84 대박! – Unbelievable/Awesome
- #85 아이고! – Oh my goodness
- #86 아싸! – Yay!
- #87 헐! – What?!/OMG
Common Korean Phrases: Taking Your Next Steps
If you listen closely to native Korean speaking as well as in K-pop and K-dramas, you’ll hear these phrases everywhere you go. That’s why this list is the perfect place for you to get your foothold in conversational Korean.
There are many different ways you can use it. Since these are all common Korean phrases that you’ll want to know by heart eventually, try to memorize at least a few per day.
Practice both speaking and writing them to help you get the hang of reading the Korean language as well as get comfortable pronouncing it. Don’t wait any longer and start learning these common Korean phrases now!