Ways To Say You In Korean

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Are you interested in learning Korean and want to know the various ways to say ‘you’? Understanding the different pronouns used in Korean is crucial for effective communication in different social situations. In this article, we will explore the different types of pronouns used in the Korean language, ranging from formal to casual, and even gendered pronouns.

By familiarizing yourself with these pronouns, you will be able to navigate conversations with ease, showing respect and building rapport with the people you interact with.

Additionally, we will discuss the use of titles and names as pronouns, as well as the appropriate pronouns to use in business and professional settings. Avoiding common mistakes when using ‘you’ in Korean is also an important aspect we will cover.

So, whether you are a beginner or an intermediate learner, this article will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips on how to express ‘you’ in Korean accurately and appropriately.

Formal Pronouns for Respectful Situations

When it comes to respectful situations, it is important to always use formal pronouns. This is a way to show respect and consideration for the other person. In Korean, formal pronouns are used when addressing someone older, of higher social status, or in a professional setting. The most common formal pronouns are ‘님’ and ‘씨’, which are added to the person’s name. By using these pronouns, you can maintain politeness and create a positive impression.

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Informal Pronouns for Close Relationships

When it comes to addressing someone close to you in Korean, there’s a range of informal pronouns you can use to make your interactions more personal and comfortable.

The most common informal pronoun is ‘너’ (neo), which is used among friends, siblings, and close acquaintances.

Another informal pronoun is ‘당신’ (dangsin), which can be used in a loving or romantic relationship.

It’s important to use these pronouns with caution and only when you have a close relationship with the person to avoid coming off as rude or disrespectful.

Polite Pronouns for General Conversations

In order to show respect and maintain a polite tone in general conversations, it’s advisable to utilize formal pronouns to address others. When speaking in Korean, the polite pronouns for ‘you’ are ‘당신’ (dangsin) and ‘너희’ (neohui).

These pronouns are commonly used in formal settings or when speaking to someone of higher status or authority. It is important to use the appropriate pronouns to show respect and establish a polite atmosphere in conversations.

Casual Pronouns for Friends and Peers

Let’s explore the more casual pronouns used among friends and peers in Korean conversations!

When speaking to friends or people of similar age and status, Koreans often use the pronoun ‘너’ (neo) to refer to ‘you.’ This pronoun reflects a more informal and friendly tone.

Additionally, ‘너’ is often paired with the honorific suffix ‘야’ (ya) to show familiarity and closeness. For example, you might hear someone say ‘너야’ (neo-ya) when addressing a close friend.

Gendered Pronouns in Korean

Gendered pronouns in Korean can create a strong sense of identity and belonging for individuals, allowing them to express their true selves.

In Korean, there are distinct pronouns for males and females. The most common pronouns for males are ‘너’ (neo) and ‘당신’ (dangsin), while females often use ‘당신’ (dangsin) and ‘그대’ (geudae).

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These pronouns reflect the cultural values and norms surrounding gender in Korean society, providing a way for individuals to communicate their gender identity and maintain social harmony.

Singular and Plural Forms of ‘You’

Differentiating between singular and plural forms of ‘you’ in Korean can be visually represented by the pronouns ‘너’ (neo) and ‘너희’ (neohui), respectively.

When addressing a single person, ‘너’ is used, indicating that you are speaking to one individual.

On the other hand, when addressing a group of people, ‘너희’ is used to convey that you are speaking to multiple individuals.

It is important to use the correct form of ‘you’ to ensure clear communication in Korean.

Special Pronouns for Elders and Superiors

Respecting your elders and superiors in Korean is essential. Using special pronouns is a way to show that respect.

In Korean, there are specific pronouns used when addressing someone older or in a higher position. The pronoun ‘sunbae’ is used to refer to someone who is older or more experienced in a particular field.

On the other hand, the pronoun ‘seonsaengnim’ is used to address teachers or those who hold a higher rank.

These special pronouns reflect the hierarchical structure of Korean society and are important in maintaining proper etiquette.

Using Titles and Names as Pronouns

Addressing someone by their title or name instead of using pronouns can be a subtle yet effective way to show respect and establish a personal connection. In Korean culture, it is common to use honorific titles such as ‘선생님’ (seonsaengnim) for teachers or ‘사장님’ (sajangnim) for bosses.

By using these titles, you not only acknowledge their authority but also show that you value their position and expertise.

Additionally, using someone’s name when speaking directly to them can create a sense of familiarity and closeness, further strengthening the personal connection.

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Pronouns in Business and Professional Settings

To establish a professional image, it’s important to use appropriate pronouns when interacting in business settings. When addressing someone in a higher position, it is common to use their title followed by ‘님’ (nim) as a polite form of ‘you.’

For example, if you are speaking to your manager, you would address them as ‘과장님’ (gwajang-nim). It’s also important to use formal speech endings such as ‘-습니다’ (seumnida) to show respect.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Using ‘You’ in Korean

One common mistake to avoid when using ‘you’ in Korean is failing to use appropriate honorifics and speech endings to show respect.

In Korean culture, it is important to show respect to those who are older or in a higher position than you. By using honorifics and speech endings, you can convey politeness and maintain a level of formality in your conversations.

Not using these honorifics and speech endings can be seen as disrespectful and may lead to misunderstandings or offense. It is crucial to pay attention to these linguistic nuances to ensure effective communication.


In conclusion, it’s essential to understand the various ways to say ‘you’ in Korean for effective communication.

In formal situations that require respectful pronouns, it’s important to use the appropriate language.

In informal settings, closer relationships allow for different pronouns to be used.

Polite conversations in general require a certain level of formality, so it’s crucial to know the appropriate pronouns to use.

When interacting with friends and peers in casual settings, there are specific pronouns that are commonly used.

It’s also important to be aware of gendered pronouns, as well as special pronouns for elders and superiors.

Using titles and names as pronouns is another important aspect of Korean language etiquette.

By avoiding common mistakes and understanding these nuances, one can navigate business and professional settings with ease.