When talking about your family, an important thing to know is how to say ‘father’ in Korean. This will help you talk about your family, which is something that a lot of people in Korea will most likely ask you about.
‘Father’ in Korean
There are three ways to say ‘father’ in Korean, depending on how formal you wish to be. The most informal way is similar to saying ‘dad’ in English. You should learn all three words as you will need them all in order to talk properly about your father in Korean.
This is one of the first Korean words you should learn, as we explain here.
Formal ‘Father’ in Korean
1. 아버님 (abeonim)
We need to add the suffix ‘님’ (nim) to our subject’s name when we are addressing them formally (never add this to your own name though). This applies to the word ‘father’ too, so if we want to say ‘father’ in a formal situation, we need to say 아버님 (abeonim).
When referring to other people’s fathers, it is best to be polite and use the word 아버님 (abeonim).
아버님은 올해 환갑을 맞으셨다. (abeonimeun olhae hwangabeul majeusyeotda)
My father reached the age of sixty this year.
Standard ‘Father’ in Korean
1. 아버지 (abeoji)
This is the standard word for ‘father’ in Korean. You can use this word when talking about your own father, but instead of saying ‘my father’, you should say ‘our father’, which is ‘우리 아버지 (uri abeoji)’ in Korean.
자기 자식을 아는 아버지는 현명한 아버지이다.
(jagi jasigeul aneun abeojineun hyeonmyeonghan abeojiida)
It is a wise father that knows his own child.
Informal ‘Father’ in Korean
1. 아빠 (appa)
The word 아빠 (appa)has a similar meaning to ‘dad’ in English, and should only be used to refer to your own dad. Remember to use the word 우리 (uri), meaning ‘our’, instead of the word ‘my’ when talking about your dad.
Using the word 우리 (uri) for “my” is a special cultural nuance that you’ll definitely need to know when learning Korean or if you plan to come to Korea. It also appears in K-dramas and Korean movies quite often.
아빠가 너에게 말하지 말랬어. (appaga neoege malhaji mallaesseo)
Dad says not to tell you.
A Word of Caution About Romanization
Romanization is used throughout this article, but while it may be helpful for the beginner, it is best to try and wean yourself off it as soon as possible. The Korean alphabet, known as ‘Hangeul’, is very simple and easy to learn; it can be learned in about one hour! Once you learn it, you can pick up new words more easily and improve your pronunciation, not to mention being able to read menus, street signs, and so forth. This will save you a lot of study time in the long run, so what are you waiting for, learn Hangeul today!
Learning vocabulary words is a great way to help you learn the basics of a language, but your language learning will only really take off once you start attempting to have conversations in Korean. Take a look at our free list of Korean phrases or our full Korean course for all the help you will need when studying Korean.
Now that you know how to say ‘father’ in Korean, you can start asking your Korean friends about their families and learn more about family life in Korea!