One of the first things people often learn when studying a foreign language is how to talk about their families. Families are very important in every country, Korea included! Therefore, it is a good idea to know how to talk about them and how to recognize if somebody else is talking about theirs. In this article, we will look at how to say ‘mother’ in Korean.
‘Mother’ in Korean
Just like in English, there is more than one way to say ‘mother’ in Korean. Let’s start off with the most formal way, and then work our way down to the more informal ways of saying ‘mother’ in Korean.
Formal ‘Mother’ in Korean
1. 어머님 (eomeonim)
When addressing somebody formally, we need to add the suffix ‘님’ (nim) to our subject’s name (never add this to your own name). The word for ‘mother’ is no exception, so if we want to say ‘mother’ in a formal situation, we need to say 어머님. This is the best word to use when referring to other people’s mothers.
어머님께 안부 좀 전해 주세요 (eomeonimkke anbu jom jeonhae juseyo)
Say hello to your mother for me.
Standard ‘Mother’ in Korean
1. 어머니 (eomeoni)
This is the standard way to say ‘mother’ in Korean. You can use this in most situations when talking about your own mother. If you are talking about your own mother, you need to use the word 우리 (uri), meaning ‘our’, instead of the word ‘my’.
어머니들은 자식들을 사랑하길 절대 멈추지 않는다.
(eomeonideureun jasikdeureul saranghagil jeoldae meomchuji anneunda)
Mothers never stop loving their children.
Informal ‘Mother’ in Korean
1. 엄마 (eomma)
This word has a similar meaning to ‘mom’ in English, and should only be used when talking to your own mother. When referring to your own family in Korean, instead of saying ‘my mom’, you need to say ‘our mom’ (우리 엄마 [uri eomma])
엄마 제발, 저는 하고 싶지 않아요. (eomma jebal, jeoneun hago sipji anayo)
Mom, please, I don’t want to.
A Word of Caution About Romanization
We’ve added in the Romanization for all of these words to help with pronunciation. However, learning the Korean alphabet (Hangeul) will help you learn Korean a lot faster than if you solely rely on Romanization. Hangeul can be learned in just a couple of hours, and it will benefit your Korean massively by improving your reading ability, pronunciation, and ability to learn new words and phrases more quickly.
You will certainly benefit from learning new Korean words. However, if you really want to learn Korean fast, it’s best to make sure you have real conversations. Take a look at our free list of Korean phrases or our full Korean course for all the help you will need when conversing in Korean.
You may hear Koreans using family words when referring to non-family members. Although the word 이모 (imo), which means ‘aunt’, is the most common family word used for addressing women of a mother’s age, the word 어머니 may occasionally be used by people so don’t get confused if you hear it in this context (although I don’t recommend that you use it yourself).
Now that you know how to say ‘mother; in Korean, start asking your Korean friends about their families, and telling them about yours!