The Most Common Korean Words and Basic Vocabulary

Common Korean Phrases

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Do you know the Korean words that will get you speaking the fastest?

Learn this basic Korean vocabulary, and you’ll be having conversations sooner than you think!

After reading this, start looking out for the words in your favorite K-Pop songs, in K-Dramas, at your neighborhood Korean restaurant, from your spouse/significant other, on your next trip to Seoul, or during daily life in Korea.

Riverside area in Seoul with tall buildings in the background for article about the most common Korean words and basic vocabulary

We’ve included audio to help your Korean listening and pronunciation skills. Just click the speaker icon next to each Korean vocabulary word and repeat the word. This will help you speak Korean properly. There are example sentences next to the words so you can see how they are used.

Many of these Korean words will be used in common everyday phrases, so it pays to learn them!

We’ve written them in both Hangeul (Korean Alphabet) and in romanized English. If you can’t read Hangeul yet, grab your free guide here and be reading before your next meal.

Ready for some fun? Let’s do this!

On this page, we’re going to give you a list of the top words that occur the most frequently in the Korean language. The good news is that a lot of these are English to Korean words. That means they have direct translations.

Learn these and you’ll be well on your way!

Korean Food Words

If you’re planning on learning the Korean language, then you’re definitely going to want to know some basic Korean food vocabulary. With lots of tasty options and a huge variety, you’ll be happy you did!

Korean instant brown rice Haetban

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentence
물 (mul) water하루에 물 세 잔 마셔요.
(harue mul se jan masyeoyo.)
I drink 3 glasses of water a day
밥 (bap) rice내일 밥 같이 먹을래요?
(naeil bap gachi meogeullaeyo?)
Shall we eat together tomorrow?
야채 (yachae) vegetables시장에서 야채를 샀어요.
(sijangeseo yachaereul sasseoyo.)
I bought vegetables at the market
과일 (gwail) fruit어떤 과일 좋아하세요?
(eotteon gwail joahaseyo?)
What kind of fruit do you like?
고기 (gogi) meat어제 저녁에 고기를 구워 먹었어요.
(eoje jeonyeoge gogireul guwo meogeosseoyo.)
Last night I ate grilled meat
빵 (ppang) bread빵 먹을때 버터랑 잼이랑 같이 먹어요.
(ppang meogeulttae beoteorang jaemirang gachi meogeoyo.)
I eat bread with butter and jam
생선 (saengseon) fish생선을 열 마리나 잡았어요!
(saengseoneul yeol marina jabasseoyo!)
I caught 10 fish!
커피 (keopi) coffee여자친구와 유명한 카페에 갔습니다.
(yeojachinguwa yumyeonghan kapee gatseumnida.)
I went to a famous cafe with my girlfriend
맥주 (maekju) beer내 남자친구는 맥주 한 병도 못 마셔요.
(nae namjachinguneun maekju han byeongdo mot masyeoyo.)
My boyfriend can't drink even one bottle of beer
소주 (soju) soju나랑 친구는 소주를 좋아해요.
(narang chinguneun sojureul joahaeyo)
I like drinking soju with my friend

 

Cup of coffee in a mug at Dal.komm Coffee in Seoul

Here are a few notes related to these Korean food words:

  • If you want to order or ask for any of these items, add a 주세요 (juseyo) to any of these words. It is one of the most useful words in the language. It means “please give me”.
  • If you need to ask for water at a restaurant, you can say 물 좀 주세요 (mul jom juseyo).
  • The word 밥 (bap) means “rice”, so you can use it for that exact meaning. It’s also used to reference food in general, as in a meal.
  • One of the most common phrases you’ll hear in Korea is “밥 먹었어요?” (bap meogeosseoyo | did you eat?). In this case, the 밥 (bap) means “food”, not specifically rice. This is a great phrase to use when you meet your friends and want to ask about food plans.
  • To order a beer, you can say 맥주 한 병 주세요 (maekju han byeong juseyo), which means “Please give me 1 bottle of beer” in English. This is a really useful phrase when you meet with friends and want to order some drinks.

Cass Terra Hite Extra Cold Max Korean Beer

Korean Family & Relationship Words

These are fantastic words to learn to help you understand everyday conversations. For sure you’ll need these if you’re going to meet and talk to Koreans!

You’ll also hear them often in K-Dramas and K-Pop lyrics. Get to recognize them in your favorite Korean shows and movies–or just listen for them in regular conversations.

They’re sure to show up, and you’ll be one step closer to understanding the language!

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentence
친구 (chingu) friend오늘 친구하고 만나기로 했어요.
(oneul chinguhago mannagiro haesseoyo.)
I made plans to meet my friend today
가족 (gajok) family가족들과 함께 여행을 가요
(gajokdeulgwa hamkke yeohaengeul gayo)
I go on a trip with my family
아빠 (appa) dad우리 아빠 친절하세요
(uri appa chinjeolhaseyo)
My dad is kind
엄마 (eomma) mom어제 엄마랑 통화 했는데 아주 기뻐하셨어.
(eoje eommarang tonghwa haenneunde aju gippeohasyeosseo.)
I was happy because I talked to my mom yesterday
남자 친구 (namja chingu) boyfriend아직도 남자친구가 없어요?
(ajikdo namjachinguga eopseoyo?)
Do you still not have a boyfriend?
여자 친구 (yeoja chingu) girlfriend오늘 여자친구의 가족을 소개 받았어.
(oneul yeojachinguui gajogeul sogae badasseo.)
I was introduced to my girlfriend's family today
결혼 (gyeolhon) marriage내일이면 결혼 1주년 입니다.
(naeirimyeon gyeolhon il junyeon imnida.)
남편 (nampyeon) husband내 첫사랑은 지금의 남편입니다.
(nae cheotsarangeun jigeumui nampyeonimnida.)
My first love is now my husband
아내 (anae) wife아내를 만나러 왔습니다.
(anaereul mannareo watseumnida.)
I came out meet my wife

Here are a few useful notes about Korean family and relationship words:

  • You might hear the Korean phrase 우리 남편 (uri nampyeon | our husband). While the direct English language translation is “our husband”, it actually means “my husband”.
  • The word 우리(uri | we, our) is used quite commonly to talk about things that belong to the whole group, such as 우리 나라 (uri nara | our country), 우리 집 (uri jip | our house), and 우리 아내 (uri anae | our wife).
  • Another commonly used Korean vocabulary word for “wife” is 부인 (buin). You can use the two interchangeably.
  • The word 친구 (chingu) means “friend”, but only same-age friend. If someone you know is a different age, then you would want to use the correct title.
  • This one is a piece of cake, 가족 (gajok) is family. This one will come up often, so best to make sure you know how to talk about your family in Korean.
  • You can use 아빠 (appa) which is similar to the English word “dad”. You can also use the slightly more respectful/formal 아버지 (abeoji), which is similar to saying “father”.
  • You can use 엄마 (eomma) for “mom”, or 어머니 (eomeoni) for “mother”.

Korean Basic Conversation Words

This is the most common vocabulary you’re going to hear in everyday discussions and chats.

Learn these key vocabulary, and you’ll start to get the gist of what’s you hear in conversations, songs, movies, and dramas right away!

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentence
집 (jip) house집에 도착했어요.
(jibe dochakaesseoyo)
I arrived at my house.
화장실 (hwajangsil) bathroom화장실 앞에서 20분이나 기다렸어요.
(hwajangsil apeseo isipbunina gidaryeosseoyo.)
I waited in front of the bathroom for 20 minutes.
나라 (nara) country나는 더운 나라가 너무 좋아!
(naneun deoun naraga neomu joa!)
I really like warm countries!
직업 (jigeop) job오늘 부터 새로운 직장에서 일합니다.
(oneul buteo saeroun jikjangeseo ilhamnida.)
Today I start at my new job.
사람 (saram) person어느 나라 사람이에요?
(eoneu nara saramieyo?)
What country are you from?
왼쪽 (oenjjok) left그림을 왼쪽으로 옮겨주세요.
(geurimeul oenjjogeuro olgyeojuseyo.)
Please move the picture to the left.
오른쪽 (oreunjjok) right오른 발을 다쳤어요.
(oreun bareul dachyeosseoyo.)
I hurt my right foot.
네 (ne) yes네, 오늘 조금 피곤해요.
(ne, oneul jogeum pigonhaeyo.)
Yes, I'm a little tired today.
아니요 (aniyo) no아니요. 불만있습니다!
(aniyo. bulmanitseumnida!)
No. I have a complaint.

Memorizing Korean words can be quite fun. If you want to know an easy way to remember 집 (jip), think of the vehicle brand Jeep. 집 (jip ) sounds just like Jeep, so you can imagine that there is a Jeep parked in front of your 집 (jip)!

Memorize Korean Nouns Jeep

Korean Time Words

Korea is an organized and fast-paced country, and we’re here to keep you on schedule! Use these time words to talk about common events and when they happen.

After learning the words below, you can up your time game by learning the Korean numbers and start telling time in Korean. Having these two skills are very useful for learning the language.

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentence
시간 (sigan) time저는 1시간동안 운동했어요
(jeoneun heonsigandongan undonghaesseoyo)
I exercised for 1 hour
지금 (jigeum) now지금 점심 시간이에요
(jigeum jeomsim siganieyo)
It's lunchtime now
오늘 (oneul) today오늘 약속 있어요?
(oneul yaksok isseoyo?)
Do you have plans today?
어제 (eoje) yesterday어제 파티 어땠어요?
(eoje pati eottaesseoyo?)
How was the party yesterday?
내일 (naeil) tomorrow내일 여동생 생일이에요
(naeil yeodongsaeng saengirieyo)
Tomorrow is my sister's birthday

Korean Verbs

Did you know that you can make a sentence in Korean with just a single verb? It’s one of the great things about the simplicity of the language! Learn these verbs first and be having conversations in Korean in no time.

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentence
가다 (gada) to go학원에 갑니다.
(hagwone gamnida.)
I go to the academy
오다 (oda) to come언니가 집에서 호텔로 옵니다.
(eonniga hotello omnida.)
My sister came to the hotel from home
있다 (itda) to have나 커다란 인형을 가지고 있어!
(na keodaran inhyeongeul gajigo isseo!)
I have a large doll!
이다 (ida) to be아빠가 한국사람이다.
(appaga hanguksaramida.)
My dad is Korean
먹다 (meokda) to eat고양이가 생선을 먹었다.
(goyangiga saengseoneul meogeotda.)
The cat ate a fish
마시다 (masida) to drink
달리기 후에 물을 마십니다.
(dalligi hue mureul masimnida.)
I drink water after running
주다 (juda) to give아빠가 생일선물을 주셨다.
(appaga saengilseonmureul jusyeotda.)
I bought my dad a birthday gift
보다 (boda) to see갈매기를 처음 봤어요!
(galmaegireul cheoeum bwasseoyo!)
This is the first time I've see a seagull!
자다 (jada) to sleep어젯밤에 늦게 잤습니다.
(eojetbame neutge jatseumnida.)
I went to sleep late last night
일어나다 (ireonada) to wake up or get up오늘 오전 7시에 일어났어요.
(oneul ojeon ilgopsie ireonasseoyo.)
I woke up today at 7am
사다 (sada) to buy오이를 샀습니다.
(oireul satseumnida.)
I bought a cucumber
쓰다 (sseuda) to write or to use여기에 이름을 쓰세요.
(yeogie ireumeul sseuseyo.)
Please write your name here
웃다 (utda) to laugh그녀가 나를 보고 웃었어요.
(geunyeoga nareul bogo useosseoyo.)
She looked at me and laughed
울다 (ulda) to cry아파서 하루종일 울었습니다.
(apaseo harujongil ureotseumnida.)
I cried all day because I was hurt
입다 (ipda) to wear오늘 부터 여름옷을 입을거에요.
(oneul buteo yeoreumoseul ibeulgeoeyo.)
I'll start wearing summer clothes today
걷다 (geotda) to walk남자친구와 손을 잡고 걸었어요.
(namjachinguwa soneul japgo georeosseoyo.)
I walked while holding my boyfriends hand
읽다 (ikda) to read제일 좋아하는 책을 읽었습니다.
(jeil joahaneun chaegeul ilgeotseumnida.)
I read my favorite book
배우다 (baeuda) to learn오늘 부터 운전을 배워요.
(oneul buteo unjeoneul baewoyo.)
I learned to drive starting today
공부하다 (gongbuhada) to study한국어 공부 같이 할래요?
(hangugeo gongbu gachi hallaeyo?)
Shall we study Korean together?
만나다 (mannada) to meet부모님을 만났습니다.
(bumonimeul mannatseumnida.)
I met my parents

Once you know these verbs, you can continue to make progress in the language with Korean grammar and Korean particles.

Korean Adjectives

Here are the top adjective Korean words. You will surely hear these these as you learn the language, so it’s good to add them to your vocabulary stack and get some practice with them.

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentence
좋다 (jota) to be good강아지 보다 고양이가 좋아요.
(gangaji boda goyangiga joayo.)
I like cats more than dogs
싫다 (silta) to be bad파프리카를 싫어합니다.
(papeurikareul sileohamnida.)
I don't like bell peppers
덥다 (deopda) to be hot
이번 여름은 아주 더워요.
(ibeon yeoreumeun aju deowoyo.)
This summer is really hot
춥다 (chupda) to be cold
한국의 겨울은 추워요.
(hangugui gyeoureun chuwoyo.)
Korea is cold in the winter
슬프다 (seulpeuda) to be sad다희야, 왜 슬퍼 보여?
(dahuiya, wae seulpeo boyeo?)
DaHee, why do you look sad?
아프다 (apeuda) to be sick or in pain언제 부터 배가 아팠어요?
(eonje buteo baega apasseoyo?)
When did your stomach start hurting?
피곤하다 (pigonhada) to be tired오늘 따라 피곤합니다.
(oneul ttara pigonhamnida.)
Today I am tired
재미있다 (jaemiitda) to be interesting이 책은 정말 재밌는것 같아요.
(i chaegeun jeongmal jaeminneungeot gatayo.)
This book seems really interesting
재미없다 (jaemieopda) to be boring집에만 있으면 따분해요!
(jibeman isseumyeon ttabunhaeyo!)
I'm bored if I have to stay at home!
어렵다 (eoryeopda) to be difficult수학 문제가 가장 어렵습니다.
(suhak munjega gajang eoryeopseumnida.)
Math problems are the most difficult for me
쉽다 (swipda) to be easy자전거 타기가 쉬워요?
(jajeongeo tagiga swiwoyo?)
Is it easy to ride a bicycle?
깨끗하다 (kkaekkeuthada) to be clean공항이 깨끗해요.
(gonghangi kkaekkeuthaeyo.)
The airport is clean
더럽다 (deoreopda) to be dirty앞치마가 금방 더러워졌어요.
(apchimaga geumbang deoreowojyeosseoyo.)
The apron just got dirty
빠르다 (ppareuda) to be fast우와! 정말 빨라요.
(uwa! jeongmal ppallayo.)
Wow! That is really fast
느리다 (neurida) to be slow시간이 천천히 지나가요.
(sigani cheoncheonhi jinagayo.)
Time passes slowly

If you want more goodness to supercharge your Korean language and culture skills, then check out our top resources here!

    52 replies to "The Most Common Korean Words and Basic Vocabulary"

    • Carla Lyn Magbanua

      Thank you💕

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