‘Hello’ is often the first word that people learn when studying a new language. Learning this simple phrase helps you make friends, greet acquaintances, and seem like an overall friendly person!
The Korean word for ‘hello’ changes based on who you are speaking to, so it’s important to get it right. It can be simple as long as you know a few tricks for how to learn it.
Get ready, this lesson is going to take you through some of the different ways to say ‘hello’ in Korean!
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Informal ‘Hello’ in Korean
1. 안녕 (annyeong)
Usually people learn standard Korean before informal Korean.
However, in the case of ‘hello’, learning the informal word first can help you. This is because the word serves as a building block for the other forms of Korean.
The informal way of saying ‘hello’ is ‘annyeong’. As this is the first word you are likely to learn, it is worth pointing out that the letters ‘eo’ are pronounced sort of like the ‘o’ in the word ‘song’.
Sometimes, students make the mistake of saying ‘eo’ as ‘ee-oh’ which is one of the reasons why it is best to learn Hangul (the Korean alphabet) right at the start of your Korean study. Learning the alphabet will help you pronounce words correctly.
‘Annyeong’ is used in a similar way to how the word ‘hi’ is used in English. It can only be used with close friends or to children since it is informal.
It can also be used as an informal way of saying ‘bye’.
Once you can say ‘annyeong’ correctly, then it will help you with the other ways of how to say ‘hello’ in Korean.
Standard ‘Hello’ in Korean
1. 안녕하세요? (annyeong-haseyo?)
This is the standard way of saying hello in Korean.
If you ask somebody what ‘hello’ is in Korean, then they will most likely give you this answer. It is comprised of two parts.
The first part is our informal ‘annyeong’.
The second part is ‘haseyo’, which comes from the verb 하다 (hada – to do).
The ‘세’ part of the word comes from ‘시’ which is often inserted into words to show more respect. The ‘시’ character is used when speaking to somebody older than you, but it can also be used when asking a question.
You will notice that the standard word for ‘hello’ has a question mark after it. Technically it is a question (although it is often said with a standard intonation), and the correct reply is ‘네, 안녕하세요?’ (yes, hello?)
Formal ‘Hello’ in Korean
1. 안녕하십니까? (annyeong-hashimnikka?)
This form is often used in announcements or on the news, it is the formal way of saying ‘hello’. To ask a question in standard Korean, you just change your intonation. However in formal Korean, the ㅂ니다 ending changes to ㅂ니까, hence ‘하십니까?’
Watch out for the pronunciation: when followed by an ㄴ, the ㅂ letter sounds like an ‘m’ rather than a ‘b’.
Telephone ‘Hello’ in Korean
1. 여보세요 (yeo-bo-seyo)
If you’re excited about all the varieties of ‘hello’ in Korean, we’ve got one more in store for you! There is a special word for ‘hello’ that is used when answering the telephone. This word is ‘여보세요’.
It’s a polite way to answer the phone, even if you don’t know who the caller is. Be careful not to use this greeting in person—phone calls only!
Hopefully you now know how to say ‘hello’ in Korean.
Since there are few ways to say it, you might need some practice to get them right. If you are unsure of which one to use, then just stick to ‘안녕하세요?’ for now until you feel more comfortable with the other ways to say ‘hello’ in Korean.
*Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn