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It’s easy to learn how to say “Mother” in Korean. You only need a few minutes.
However, there are a few different versions of the word. This can be confusing, so it pays to take a few minutes to understand the differences.
We’ll explain what you need to know!
‘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 (eomeonim). 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)
If you live in or travel Korea, you can notice this use of the word 우리 (uri) in places like Woori Bank. It’s a special cultural word that you’ll see in many situations.
우리 엄마는 걱정이 굉장히 많아요. (uri eommaneun geokjeongi goengjanghi manayo.)
My mother has a lot of anxiety.
If you need help understanding the example sentences above, you may want to brush up on your Korean grammar or sentence structure knowledge. Sometimes the Korean particles are omitted, which is normal in everyday Korean conversation.
We’ve outlined some of the most important aspects of the language in our Korean learning guide here.
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 here in less than an hour. It will benefit your Korean learning massively by improving your reading ability, pronunciation, and ability to learn new words and phrases more quickly.
If you really want boost your Korean speaking skills, it’s best to make sure you have real conversations. Get some practice with a language exchange partner or join 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!