One of the great things about living in Korea is that you can try all of the various foods that Korea has to offer. From spicy ttokpoki, to ice-cold naengmyeon, there is something that will suit everybody’s taste. One of the most useful words to know in Korean is how to say ‘eat’ in Korean.
This article will teach you how to say ‘eat’ in Korean, so that you can start enjoying all of the country’s awesome food.
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‘Eat’ in Korean
Like many of the most common Korean verbs, there are actually two different verbs that mean ‘to eat’ in Korean. One of these is used in normal situations, and the other is used when referring to your elders or seniors. It is important to use these words correctly if you want to be polite in Korea.
This is the standard verb for ‘to eat’ in Korean. It is used when referring to yourself (I want to eat, I ate, etc.) or when referring to people of the same age or younger than you.
들다 / 드시다 (deulda / deushida)
This is the ‘honorific’ form of the verb ‘to eat’ in Korean. The actual dictionary word is 들다, but it as it is always used with 시, you will often see it as 드시다. It is also easier to remember드시다 if you want to use it correctly, especially as 들다 has 103 other meanings in Korean.
You should use this word when referring to somebody older than you. It is also commonly used when asking questions (Do you want to eat?) or giving commands (Eat this) to people who you don’t know well.
There is actually a third verb for ‘to eat’, which is 잡수시다 (japsushida), but this is used less frequently than 드시다.
Formal ‘To Eat’ in Korean
1. 먹습니다 (Meokseumnida)
2. 드십니다 (Deushimnida)
You can use formal language when giving a presentation, making an announcement, or in a job interview. The verb that you should use depends on whether you are talking about yourself, or talking about somebody older than you.
다랑어는 보통 날것으로 먹습니다.
(Darangeoneun botong nalgeoseuro meokseumnida)
Tuna is usually eaten raw.
우리는 설날에 떡국을 끓여 먹습니다.
(urineun seolnale ddeokgukeul ggeulyeo meokseumnida)
We feast on rice cake soup on the Lunar New Year.
Standard ‘To Eat’ in Korean
1. 먹어요 (Meokeoyo)
2. 드세요 (Deuseyo)
The standard form of Korean is used when talking to people of a similar age who you are not really close with. If you want to ask a question or ask somebody to do something (or if you are referring to somebody a lot older than you), then you should use the 드세요 form of the verb ‘to eat’, in other situations, use the 먹어요 form of ‘to eat’.
맛있게 드세요. (mashittge deuseyo)
매운 것은 잘 못 멋어요. (maeun geoseun jal mot meokeoyo)
I can’t eat spicy food well.
Informal ‘To Eat’ in Korean
Informal words are used when speaking with people you are very close with, or people who are younger than you. Honorific words such as 들다 (to eat) are not used when speaking informally.
이 음식이 맛이 있는지 한 번 먹어 봐. (i eumshiki masi ittneunji han beon meokeo bwa)
Try this food and see if you like it.
A Word of Caution About Romanization
Romanization is a useful tool for the complete beginner, but if you want to improve your Korean fast, then it is best to learn Hangeul. Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, allows you to learn new words while walking down the street or riding the subway, improves your pronunciation, and helps you identify similar parts of words, which makes memorization easier. You can learn how to read Hangeul in less than two hours on this very site.
Check out our free list of Korean phrases or our Korean web course for all the help you will need when studying Korean.
Now that you know how to say ‘eat’ in Korean, go out and enjoy some great Korean food.