“Yes” is a powerful word that is not only useful in everyday life or when conversing with friends but also has the potential to unlock exciting new experiences.
Therefore, when learning a new language like Korean, knowing how to say “yes” is important.
If you have listened to any Korean songs or watched any Korean TV shows you have probably heard the Korean word for “yes” many times before.
However, yes in Korean is used differently than in English.
Since Korean is a language based on respect, you will also need to change what version of “yes” you say, depending on how formal you need to be in a situation.
Also, when you want to say “yes” or “no” you may in fact use a verb in Korean and simply use a regular or negative form of the verb depending on if you want to say “yes” or “no”
Basically, it is important to know the different variations of the word “yes” and when to use each one, so you can be sure that you will be able to say “yes” no matter where you are.
How to Say Yes in Korean at a Glance
Before we begin, take a quick look below at all the “yes” words we will be learning today in this guide.
- “Yes” (formal): 예 (ye)
- “Yes” (standard): 네 (ne)
- “Yes” (informal): 응 (eung)/ 어 (eo)
- “Yes” or “it exists”: 있어요 (isseoyo)
- “No” or “it doesn’t exist”: 없어요 (eopseoyo)
- “Yes” or “I know”: 알아요 arayo
- “Yes” or “I do not know”: 몰라요 mollayo
How to say Yes in Korean
예 (Ye) – Formal “Yes” in Korean
When you want to say yes when in a formal situation you would say “예 ye”.
This version of “yes” should be used when answering “yes” to someone older than you or someone more senior in social rank, for example, your boss.
Although “예 ye” is good to know for formal situations, it is mostly used by the older generation in Korea so you will also want to learn the other “yes” variations as well.
“예 ye” should be an easy word to remember since it sounds so similar to the English word “yeah”, just shorter.
Take a look at the example conversation:
A: “미국사람입니까? miguksaramimnikka” = Are you American?
B: “예, 미국사람입니다. ye, miguksaramimnida” = Yes, I am American.
네 (Ne) – Standard “Yes” in Korean
“네 Ne” is the standard form of “yes” and is the most common version of the word.
Since it is polite, but not too formal, you can use “네 ne” in all situations without worrying about offending anyone.
However, “네 ne” might be a bit trickier to remember since it is similar to the English word “no”.
If you are worried about getting confused by “네 ne” then it is fine to stick with “예 ye” as both can sometimes be used interchangeably regardless of the formality level required.
See the example conversation below:
A: “김치를 좋아하세요? gimchireul joahaseyo” = Do you like gimchi?
B: “네, 좋아해요. ne, joahaeyo” = Yes, I like gimchi.
응 (Eung) / 어 (Eo) – Informal “Yes” in Korean
The final variations of how to say “yes” in Korean are the informal forms.
There are two informal ways to say “yes” in Korean they are “응 eung” and “어 eo”.
“응 eung” is the normal way to say “yes” informally and can be used by anyone, whereas “어 eo” is a more masculine term and is mostly used by males.
Obviously, these are very casual ways to say “yes” in Korean, so make sure you do not use these terms when you are in formal situations or in situations where you want to be polite.
You would use “응 eung” and “어 eo” when saying “yes” to someone who you are close with, someone who has a lower social standing than you, or to someone who is younger than you but who you know.
Check out the useful example situation:
A: “나 예뻐? na yeppeo” = Am I pretty?
B: “어, 너무 예뻐! eo, neomu yeppeo” = Yes, very pretty.
A: “이거 좋아? igeo joa” = Is this good?
B: “응, 좋아 eung, joa” = Yes, it’s good.
Other Ways to Say “Yes” and “No” in Korean
Since Korean is a very contextual language, it is common to respond to a question by using the verb in the question itself.
Two common verbs that can often be responded to by using the verb itself as a “yes” equivalent are “있어요 isseoyo” meaning to have or exist and “알아요 arayo” meaning to know.
Each of these verbs has an opposite which you would use when you want to respond with a “no” to a question that uses the corresponding verb.
This way of responding is broken down further below, all using the standard forms of the verbs.
1. 있어요 (Isseoyo)/ 없어요 (Eopseoyo) – I Have/ I Do Not Have In Korean
If people ever ask you if you have something in Korean, you can easily respond using the verb in the question itself.
Rather than simply saying “yes” or “no”, use either “있어요 isseoyo” to meaning “to have”/ “to exist” or “없어요 eopseoyo” meaning “to not have” / “to not exist” depending on what you want to say.
See the examples below to see how this works:
A: “포인트 카드 있어요? pointeu kadeu isseoyo” = Do you have a point card?
B1: “있어요 isseoyo” = Yes, I do [it exists]
B2: “없어요 eopseoyo” = No, I don’t [it doesn’t exist]
2. 알아요 (Arayo)/ 몰라요 (Mollayo) – I Know / I Do Not Know In Korean
When you are asked whether you know something or not you can respond with the verb “알아요 arayo” meaning “to know” or “몰라요 mollayo” meaning “to not know”.
These are good alternatives to saying “yes” or “no” and are especially useful to know if you want to reply “yes” since the verb you respond with is normally at the end of the question anyway, so it’s simple!
Follow the examples below to see these alternative “yes” words in action:
A: “스티브의 휴대폰번호를 알아요? seutibeuui hyudaeponbeonhoreul arayo” = Do you know Steve’s cell phone number?
B1: “알아요 arayo” = Yes, I do [I know]
B2: “몰라요 mollayo” = No, I don’t [I don’t know]
A Word of Caution About Romanization
The romanization (English alphabet) versions of the Korean Hangul have been added to each word to help with the readability of the words and so you can pronounce them properly.
However, it is highly advisable to learn to read Hangul so you can learn the proper pronunciation and improve your speaking and reading skills in Korean, especially if you wish to continue your study of the Korean language.
Once you know Hangul you will start to see patterns in the words and this will speed up the process of learning Korean even more.
As always though, the truly best way to improve your language learning is to have conversations in Korean.
How to Say Yes in Korean – Video Guide
Yes in Korean – Final Thoughts
Now you know the many different ways to say “yes” in Korean and when the best situations are to use each variation, you are prepared to go out into the world and start saying “yes” more.
As “yes” is such an important word for daily life, you will certainly get use out of all these different forms and know the perfect time to use them.
With this new word added to your vocabulary, you must make sure to get out there and say “yes” to more things in Korean and see where it takes you!
Want an easier way to practice and learn Korean? Check out our comprehensive guide on the best app to learn Korean.
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