Korean Words and Basic Vocabulary That Are Used Most Often

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
Korean Words

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!

Here is a list of some of the common basic Korean words:

Korean Words

Below, we’ll cover more of the basic vocabulary that is commonly used in the language.

We have a downloadable PDF resource that contains the 100 common Korean words that are used in everyday life in South Korea. The PDF also has a worksheet you can use to practice the words in the list. Download the resource here and use it to study the vocabulary:

After reading this, start looking out for the words and Korean phrases 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.

In the lists below, we’ve included audio of the Korean words to help you with 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 the Korean language properly. There are example sentences with English translations next to the words so you can see how they are commonly used in the language and in daily conversations.

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 language guide here and be reading before your next meal.

Ready for some fun? Let’s do this!

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

Food plays a big part in Korean culture. Learning these simple Korean words will be helpful as you learn Korean and South Korean culture. It’ll be easy for you to talk about food in your everyday life in Sout Korea if you learn these basic Korean words. Below are the basic Korean words related to food.

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
(mul) water
(harue mul se jan masyeoyo.)
I drink 3 glasses of water a day
(bap) rice
(naeil bap gachi meogeullaeyo?)
Shall we eat together tomorrow?
(yachae) vegetables
(sijangeseo yachaereul sasseoyo.)
I bought vegetables at the market
과일 (gwail) fruit
(eotteon gwail joahaseyo?)
What kind of fruit do you like?
(gogi) meat
(eoje jeonyeoge gogireul guwo meogeosseoyo.)
Last night I ate grilled meat
(ppang) bread
(ppang meogeulttae beoteorang jaemirang gachi meogeoyo.)
I eat bread with butter and jam
생선 (saengseon) fish
(saengseoneul yeol marina jabasseoyo!)
I caught 10 fish!
커피 (keopi) coffee
(yeojachinguwa yumyeonghan kapee gatseumnida.)
I went to a famous cafe with my girlfriend
맥주 (maekju) beer
(nae namjachinguneun maekju han byeongdo mot masyeoyo.)
My boyfriend can't drink even one bottle of beer
소주 (soju) soju
(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 the phrase 주세요 (ju-se-yo) to any of these Korean words. This is one of the most useful phrases in the language. It means “please give me”.
  • If you need to ask for water at a restaurant, a good phrase to say is 물 좀 주세요 (mul jom ju-se-yo).
  • 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 use your language skills to ask about food plans.
  • To order a beer, you can say 맥주 한 병 주세요 (maekju han byeong ju-se-yo), 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 Korean 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 in their language!

You’ll also hear Korean say 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 Korean language!

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
친구 (chingu) friend
(oneul chinguhago mannagiro haesseoyo.)
I made plans to meet my friend today
가족 (gajok) family
(gajokdeulgwa hamkke yeohaengeul gayo)
I go on a trip with my family
아빠 (appa) dad
(uri appa chinjeolhaseyo)
My dad is kind
엄마 (eomma) mom
(eoje eommarang tonghwahaenneunde aju gippeohasyeosseo.)
My mom was happy because I talked to her on the phone yesterday
남자 친구 (namja chingu) boyfriend
(ajikdo namjachinguga eopseoyo?)
Do you still not have a boyfriend?
여자 친구 (yeoja chingu) girlfriend
(yeojachinguwa keopi masireo kapee gamnida.)
I go to cafe to drink coffee with my girlfriend.
결혼 (gyeolhon) marriage
(daeum dare gyeolhonhal geoyeyo.)
I will get married next month
남편 (nampyeon) husband
(nae cheotsarangeun jigeumui nampyeonimnida.)
My first love is now my husband
아내 (anae) wife
(anaereul mannareo watseumnida.)
I came out meet my wife

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

Korean Basic Conversation Words

This is the most common vocabulary you’re going to hear in everyday language discussions and chats. These are great words to know along with how to write your name in Korean and how to do a simple self-introduction.

Learn these key vocabulary, and you’ll start to get the gist of the language you hear in conversations, songs, movies, and dramas right away! These will be a great help to get you to speak Korean.

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
(jip)house
(jibe dochakaesseoyo)
I arrived at my house.
화장실 (hwajangsil) bathroom
(hwajangsil apeseo isipbunina gidaryeosseoyo.)
I waited in front of the bathroom for 20 minutes.
나라 (nara) country
(naneun ttatteuthan naraga neomu joa!)
I really like warm countries!
직업 (jigeop) job
(jigeobi mwoyeyo?)
What's the person's job?
사람 (saram) person
(eoneu nara saramieyo?)
What country are you from?
왼쪽 (oenjjok) left
(geurimeul oenjjogeuro olgyeojuseyo.)
Please move the picture to the left.
오른쪽 (oreunjjok) right
(naerisil muneun oreunjjogimnida)
The exit door is on the right.
(ne) yes
(ne, oneul jogeum pigonhaeyo.)
Yes, I'm a little tired today.
아니요 (aniyo) no
(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 Korean 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 Korean language.

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
시간 (sigan)time
(jeoneun han sigan dongan undonghaesseoyo)
I exercised for 1 hour
지금 (jigeum)now
(jigeum jeomsim siganieyo)
It's lunchtime now
오늘 (oneul) today
(oneul yaksok isseoyo?)
Do you have plans today?
어제 (eoje) yesterday
(eoje pati eottaesseoyo?)
How was the party yesterday?
내일 (naeil) tomorrow
(naeil yeodongsaeng saengirieyo)
Tomorrow is my sister's birthday
What is the difference between the Korean words 지금 (jigeum) and 이제 (ije)?

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 Korean language! Learn these common Korean verbs first and be having conversations in Korean in no time. Here are the common Korean verbs that’ll help you speak Korean in your daily conversations.

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
가다 (gada) to go
(hagwone gamnida.)
I go to the academy
오다 (oda)to come
(eonniga hotello omnida.)
My sister came to the hotel from home
있다 (itda)to have
(na keodaran inhyeongeul gajigo isseo!)
I have a large doll!
이다 (ida) to be
(appaga hanguk saramida.)
My dad is Korean
먹다 (meokda) to eat
(goyangiga saengseoneul meogeotda.)
The cat ate a fish
마시다 (masida) to drink

(dalligihago naseo mureul masimnida)
I drink water after running
주다 (juda) to give
(appaga saengilseonmureul jusyeotda.)
My dad bought me a birthday present
보다 (boda) to see
(galmaegireul cheoeum bwasseoyo!)
This is the first time I've see a seagull!
자다 (jada) to sleep
(eojetbame neutge jatseumnida.)
I went to sleep late last night
일어나다 (ireonada) to wake up or get up
(oneul ojeon ilgopsie ireonasseoyo.)
I woke up today at 7am
사다 (sada) to buy
(oireul satseumnida.)
I bought a cucumber
쓰다 (sseuda) to write or to use
(yeogie ireumeul sseuseyo.)
Please write your name here
웃다 (utda) to laugh
(geunyeoga nareul bogo useosseoyo.)
She looked at me and laughed
울다 (ulda) to cry
(apaseo harujongil ureotseumnida.)
I cried all day because I was hurt
입다 (ipda) to wear
(oneulbuteo yeoreumoseul ibeulgeoeyo.)
I'll start wearing summer clothes today
걷다 (geotda) to walk
(namjachinguwa soneul japgo georeosseoyo.)
I walked while holding my boyfriends hand
(iktta) to read
(jeil joahaneun chaegeul ilgeotseumnida.)
I read my favorite book
배우다 (baeuda) to learn
(oneulbuteo unjeoneul baewoyo.)
I learned to drive starting today
공부하다 (gongbuhada)to study
(hangugeo gongbu gachi hallaeyo?)
Shall we study Korean together?
만나다 (mannada)to meet
(bumonimeul mannatseumnida.)
I met my parents

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

Korean Adjectives

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

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
좋다 (jota) to be good
(gangajiboda goyangiga joayo.)
I like cats more than dogs
싫다 (silta) to be bad
(papeurikareul sileohamnida.)
I don't like bell peppers
(deopda) to be hot

(ibeon yeoreumeun aju deowoyo.)
This summer is really hot
(chupda) to be cold

(hangugui gyeoureun chuwoyo.)
Korea is cold in the winter
슬프다 (seulpeuda) to be sad
(dahuiya, wae seulpeo boyeo?)
DaHee, why do you look sad?
(apeuda) to be sick or in pain
(eonjebuteo baega apasseoyo?)
When did your stomach start hurting?
피곤하다 (pigonhada) to be tired
(oneulttara pigonhamnida.)
Today I am tired
(jaemiitda) to be interesting
(i chaegeun jeongmal jaeminneungeot gatayo.)
This book seems really interesting
(jaemieopda) to be boring
(jibeman isseumyeon jaemieopseoyo!)
I'm bored if I have to stay at home!
어렵다 (eoryeopda) to be difficult
(suhak munjega gajang eoryeopseumnida.)
Math problems are the most difficult for me
쉽다 (swipda) to be easy
(jajeongeo tagiga swiwoyo?)
Is it easy to ride a bicycle?
깨끗하다 (kkaekkeuthada) to be clean
(gonghangi kkaekkeuthaeyo.)
The airport is clean
더럽다 (deoreopda) to be dirty
(apchimaga geumbang deoreowojyeosseoyo.)
The apron just got dirty
(ppareuda) to be fast
(uwa! jeongmal ppallayo.)
Wow! That is really fast
느리다 (neurida)to be slow
(sigani cheoncheonhi jinagayo.)
Time passes slowly

Korean Adverbs

Another set of basic words for everyday life you need to know when you learn Korean is adverbs. These are words that will be helpful as you speak Korean.

There are many adverbs in the Korean language but we’ll list a few of the most common ones here. Below are some of the basic Korean adverbs.

Korean WordMeaningExample Sentences
(maeu)very
(naneun bukangwa namhanui yeoksae maeu gwansimi isseoyo)
I'm very interested in the history of North and South Korea.
(aju)very
(badagi aju mikkeureowoyo. josimhaseyo)
The floor is very slippery. Please be careful.
(kkwae)quite
(i gabangeun kkwae mugeowoyo)
This bag is quite heavy.
(sangdanghi)quite
(gagyeogeun sangdanghi bissan pyeonieyo)
The price is quite high.
(geoui)almost(gonghange geoui da wasseoyo)
We're almost at the airport.
(ppalli)fast
(joneun hangugeoreul ppalli baeugo isseoyo)
John is learning the Korean language fast.
(cheoncheonhi)slowly
(nae chinguga hangugeoreul cheoncheonhi baeugo isseoyo)
My friend is slowly learning the Korean language.
(sinjunghage)carefully
( i munjereul sinjunghage goryeohae juseyo)
Please consider this matter carefully.
(hangsang)always
(geuneun hangsang bappayo)
He is always busy.
(neul)always
(urineun neul hamkke jeomsimeul meogeoyo)
We always eat lunch together.
(jaju)frequently
(saramdeureun hanguk deuramareul boneun dongan gibonjeogin hangugeo pyohyeondeureul jaju baeul su isseoyo)
People can frequently learn basic Korean phrases while watching K-drama.
(heunhi)frequently
(bomeneun beotkkocheul heunhi bol su isseoyo)
You can see cherry blossoms commonly in spring.
(botong)usually
(nae sachoneun botong hanguk eumageul deutgo hanguk deuramareul bwayo)
My cousins usually listen to Korean music and watch K-drama.
(gakkeum)sometimes
(sunyeongineun gakkeum chingudeurege yeongeoro malhaeyo)
Soonyoung sometimes speaks English to his friends.
(ttaeroneun)sometimes
(nuguna ttaeroneun silsureul haeyo)
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes
(gakkeum)occasionally
(jomcheoreom )seldom
(naneun jikjange jomcheoreom jigakaji anayo)
I am seldom late for work.
(deumulge)rarely
(josyuaneun deumulge hangugeoreul haeyo)
Joshua rarely speaks Korean.
(gyeolko)never
(geu nareul gyeolko itji aneul geoyeyo)
I will never forget that day.
(jeoldae)never
(jeoldae geojinmareul haji anasseoyo)
I never lied.

Easy Korean Words

These are words that you can easily learn and remember. You may hear these words in Korean dramas, movies, variety shows, or K-pop idols’ live broadcasts.

Below are a few easy Korean words you can start learning:

Korean WordMeaning
(ye)yes
(aniyo)no
(uri)we
(oneul)today
(eoje)yesterday
(naeil)tomorrow
(bam)night/evening
(achim)morning
(wae)why
(eonje)when

Korean Words for Beginners

The Korean words for beginners like you are words you can easily learn as they are often used in Korean dramas, movies, and other entertainment channels. They are very useful as they are often used in daily conversations.

Here’s a list of Korean words for beginners:

KoreanMeaning
(annyeonghaseyo)Hello
(kamsahamnida)Thank you
(cheonmaneyo)You’re welcome
(jamsimanyo)Excuse me
(gwaenchanayo)Okay
(joisonghamnida)I’m sorry
(juseyo) Please give me
(mollayo)I don’t know
(arayo)I know
(ihaehaeyo)I understand
(joayo)Good
(an joayo)Not good

Beautiful Korean Words

The beautiful Korean words are made up of words that are natively Korean. There are a lot of words in the Korean language that have Chinese origins. These words that have Chinese origins are oftentimes referred to as “loan words”. 

But in the section below, you’ll learn about a few of the many beautiful Korean words which are natively Korean. 

Korean WordMeaning
(haneul)sky
(bi)rain
(goyangi)cat
(gangaji)puppy
(saram)person
(baram)wind
(maeum)mind/heart
(garam)river
(bada)ocean
(mireu)dragon
(nareusha)to fly
(narae)wing
(nuri)world
(nara)nation

Aesthetic Korean Words

As you learn Korean, you’ll discover that there are words in the language that don’t have a direct English translation. There might be words in English that can be used to explain them but they don’t necessarily give the exact meaning.

Below is a list of these aesthetic Korean words. You might be surprised to know about them as you’ve already might have heard them from Korean dramas, movies, or even from your favorite K-pop idols.

눈치 (noonchi)

This word is translated as “sense” or “wits” in English. However, this Korean word is more than just sense and wits. It’s one’s ability to read, feel and understand people or situations without the need to verbally hear what it is.

A person who has 눈치 is able to react, do or say something simply by observing.

From this word comes from the expressions 눈치가 없다 and 눈치가 빠르다.

눈치가 없다 is used for someone who doesn’t know how to weigh or understand situations. Thus making them unable to respond, react or act accordingly.

눈치가 빠르다 is the opposite of 눈치가 없다. 눈치가 빠르다 is used for a person who’s quick to see things through. They easily understand people and situations.

정 (jeong)

정 (jeong) is a word that can talk about affection, attachment, feeling of connection. When Koreans use this word, they’re usually referring to the invisible bond that exists in Korean society.

효 (hyo)

This is a word that can be defined as “filial duty.” This can be used to talk about one’s devotion to one’s parents in taking care of them and taking responsibility for them until their old age.

내숭 (naesung)

내숭 is used to describe a person who is not real or in other words fake. This can be used for a person who hides their real identity or color.

애교 (aegyo)

There’s no exact one English word that can directly express the meaning of 애교 (aegyo). However, it may be defined as “acting cute” or “being lovely”.

온돌(ondol)

This word literally means “heated rock”. However, in practice, this word is used to refer to the Korean floor heating system.

답답해 (dapdapae) or 답답하다 (dapdapada)

These 2 expressions are translated as “stuffy” or “suffocating”. However, these 2 words, when in use can have a meaning other than “stuffy” or “suffocating”.

In usage, 답답해 or 답답하다 are used when someone feels “frustrated”. It can also be used when you get impatient, or feel irritated at someone’s slowness or narrow point of view.

엄친아 (eomchina)

This word is a combination of 3 Korean words which are 엄마, 친구, and 아들. These words combined mean “son of one’s mother’s friend”. However, this isn’t exactly what 엄친아 means.

엄친아 is used to describe someone, particularly a man who is close to perfection or someone who comes from or has a good background. He could be someone better than you.

For example, a man who is very talented, smart, handsome, and has a good educational background can be described as 엄친아.

The word used to describe women like this is 엄친딸.

어이없다 (eoieopda)

This word can express one’s unbelief of an event or news. It may also be used when you’re left speechless or have nothing to say or comment about because of an out-of-the-ordinary event.

Korean Words Vocabulary

Here are some useful vocabulary words in Korean. These are common Korean words you’ll often encounter as you learn the Korean language.

Words in Korean

Korean words are called 단어 (daneo). The word for vocabulary in Korean is 어휘 (eohwi) or 용어 (yongeo). There are special words in the Korean language for different types of vocabulary.

Nouns in Korean

The word 명사 (myeongsa) is used to talk about nouns in Korean. The different types of nouns are called 보통 명사 (botong myeongsa), 고유 명사 (goyu myeongsa) and 불가산 명사 (bulgasan myeongsa).

The Korean phrases 보통 명사 (botong myeongsa), 고유 명사 (goyu myeongsa), and 불가산 명사 (bulgasan myeongsa) are used for common nouns, proper nouns, and uncountable nouns respectively.

Verbs in Korean

동사 (dongsa) is the Korean word for verbs. The Korean phrases for regular and irregular verbs are 규칙동사 (gyuchik dongsa) and 불규칙 동사 (bulgyuchik dongsa).

Adjectives in Korean

The Korean word for adjectives is 형용사 (hyeongyongsa).

English to Korean Words

You can write English words in Korean by sounding them out slowly in English and then writing the equivalent sounds in Korean.

Korean to English Words

You can write Korean words in English by following the romanization rules.

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

    593 replies to "Korean Words and Basic Vocabulary That Are Used Most Often"

    • Avatar for Courtney Courtney

      I needed this lesson so bad, It’s really helpful for me, I’m planning to become a kpop idol with my friend and we are in a group called headlights, and I need to learn the korean lyrics to right some down, and this was a very big help, I’m so glad that I used this website, I will remember this,

    • Avatar for Tiluen Tiluen

      Is 어이없다 a verb? How would you use it in a sentence? google say that it could translate to “no way!”

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        어이없다 is an adjective meaning “to be absurd; ridiculous.” It can also mean “to be dumbfounded; stunned.” e.g. 그 소식을 듣고 나는 어이없었다. I was dumbfounded when I heard that news.

    • Avatar for Krits Krits

      It was so helpful! I want to learn korean yeah ! Because i want to become a flight attendant and learning korean would be privilege for me and This helped me alot to learn korean Thank you and forever grateful.

    • Avatar for Rukhsar Rukhsar

      Thank you for the lesson it is really helpful for those who wants to learn Korean language.
      I also wants to learn Korean language but not for the K-pop , of course they are good and I like them as well.
      But it is my dream to learn different languages that’s the reason I want to learn that’s it.
      kam-sa-ham-nida.

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