Korean Words and Basic Vocabulary That Are Used Most Often

Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by 90 Day Korean

Common Korean Phrases

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 with English translations next to the words so you can see how they are commonly used in the language.

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.

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

What are the basic Korean words?

The basic Korean words are:

  • Hello – 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)
  • Please – 주세요 (juseyo)
  • Sorry – 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida)
  • Thank you – 고맙습니다 (gomapseumnida)
  • Yes – 네 (ne)
  • No – 아니요 (aniyo)
  • Maybe – 아마도 (amado)
  • Help – 도와 주세요 (dowa juseyo)
  • Excuse me – 저기요 (jeogiyo)

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 WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
물 (mul) water
(harue mul se jan masyeoyo.)
I drink 3 glasses of water a day
밥 (bap) rice
(naeil bap gachi meogeullaeyo?)
Shall we eat together tomorrow?
(sijangeseo yachaereul sasseoyo.)
I bought vegetables at the market
과일 (gwail) fruit
(eotteon gwail joahaseyo?)
What kind of fruit do you like?
(eoje jeonyeoge gogireul guwo meogeosseoyo.)
Last night I ate grilled meat
빵 (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 tonghwa haenneunde 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
(oneul yeojachinguui gajogeul sogae badasseo.)
I was introduced to my girlfriend's family today
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 what’s you hear in conversations, songs, movies, and dramas right away!

Korean WordMeaning in EnglishExample Sentence
집 (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
(oneul buteo saeroun jikjangeseo ilhamnida.)
Today I start at my new 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
(oreun bareul dachyeosseoyo.)
I hurt my right foot.
네 (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 verbs first and be having conversations in Korean in no time.

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 hanguksaramida.)
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.)
I bought my dad a birthday gift
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
(oneul buteo yeoreumoseul ibeulgeoeyo.)
I'll start wearing summer clothes today
걷다 (geotda) to walk
(namjachinguwa soneul japgo georeosseoyo.)
I walked while holding my boyfriends hand
to read
(jeil joahaneun chaegeul ilgeotseumnida.)
I read my favorite book
배우다 (baeuda) to learn
(oneul buteo 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 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. 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
(gangaji boda goyangiga joayo.)
I like cats more than dogs
싫다 (silta) to be bad
(papeurikareul sileohamnida.)
I don't like bell peppers
to be hot

(ibeon yeoreumeun aju deowoyo.)
This summer is really hot
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?
to be sick or in pain
(eonje buteo baega apasseoyo?)
When did your stomach start hurting?
피곤하다 (pigonhada) to be tired
(oneul ttara pigonhamnida.)
Today I am tired
to be interesting
(i chaegeun jeongmal jaeminneungeot gatayo.)
This book seems really interesting
to be boring집에만 있으면 재미없어요! (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
to be fast
(uwa! jeongmal ppallayo.)
Wow! That is really fast
느리다 (neurida) to be slow
(sigani cheoncheonhi jinagayo.)
Time passes slowly

What are Korean words called?

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

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

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

    • Avatar for nesa nesa

      this has really help me learn korean words

    • Avatar for Ariel T. Concepcion Ariel T. Concepcion

      Thank you, 90-Day Korean! You’re one of the best Korean language references I have ever read.

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for your support, Ariel! This means a lot to us. ^^

    • Avatar for grizyann jumaoas grizyann jumaoas

      i want to understand all words of korean

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Grizyann! I’m not sure if it’s a reachable goal because even Koreans don’t know all the words! You can start with vocabulary books, but I think our private coaching system might be a good option for you! Please check this link for the details! (https://www.90daykorean.com/koreanlessons/)

    • Avatar for Cherries Urriza Cherries Urriza

      gamsahamnida. I’m really enjoy it.

    • Avatar for Arjewon amit Arjewon amit

      gomawoyo , It gives me an understanding about korean language.

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