How to say “What are you doing?’ in Korean

Last Updated on September 23, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
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It is always good to know a few conversation starters when learning a new language. Knowing how to say “What are you doing?” in Korean will help you start conversations. Not only will this help you get more practice at speaking Korean, but it will also help you strengthen your friendships with Koreans!

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“What are you doing?” in Korean

There are many different ways to say “What are you doing?” in Korean, but they all have two things in common. The first is the word 뭐 (mwo), which means “what.”

The second thing that they have in common is the use of the verb 하다 (hada), which means “to do.”

Formal “What Are You Doing?” in Korean

In these situations, you are unlikely to want to ask somebody what they are doing. However, if you do want to ask them, then be very polite about it.

Here’s how you can ask, “what are you doing” in a formal way.

1. 뭐 하십니까? (mwo hasimnikka)

Formal Korean should be used when making announcements, doing presentations, or during an interview.

Use 하십니까 (hasimnikka) rather than 합니까 (hamnikka) to make your question sound politer.

How to Say What Are You Doing in Korean formal

Example:

죄송합니다, 그런데 뭐 하십니까? (joesonghamnida, geureonde mwo hasimnikka)

Sorry, but what are you doing?

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Standard “What Are You Doing?” in Korean

There are two ways to say, “What are you doing?” in Korean. You can use these expressions when talking to people who are older or not particularly close to you.

1. 뭐 하세요? (mwo haseyo)

The first way is by adding 하세요 (haseyo) to “what” or 뭐 (mwo). Using 하세요 (haseyo) is a more polite way of asking questions than using 해요 (haeyo), which will be discussed below.

This form can be used when asking other questions, too, such as 어디에 사세요? (eodie saseyo), which means “Where do you live?.”

How to Say What Are You Doing in Korean standard

2. 뭐 해요? (mwo haeyo)

The second way is with the use of 해요 (haeyo). You should only use the 세 (se) form when referring to others, never when referring to yourself. Therefore, you should answer the question “what are you doing?” by using the simple 해요 (haeyo) form of 하다 (hada).

Example:

A: 지금 뭐 하세요? (jigeum mwo haseyo)

What are you doing now?

B: 일본어를 공부해요. (ilboneoreul gongbuhaeyo)

I’m studying Japanese.

Informal “What Are You Doing?” in Korean

Lastly, there are also two ways to express this question informally. You can use these expressions with people who are close to you and who are of a similar or younger age.

1. 뭐 해? (mwo hae)

To say, “What are you doing?” in Korean informally, you can drop the 요 (yo) and say 뭐 해? (mwo hae) instead.

How to Say What Are You Doing in Korean informal

2. 뭐 하니? (mwo hani)

The other way to say “What are you doing?” in Korean is 뭐 하니? (mwo hani).

Example:

A: 뭐 해? (mwo hae)

What are you doing?

B: 수영해 (suyeonghae)

I’m swimming.

Other ways to say “What Are You Doing?” in Korean

If you are just starting out, then learning the above phrases will be fine. If you want to know other ways of saying “What are you doing?” in Korean, then keep reading!

Note that the following phrases have all been written in the standard politeness level first and the informal politeness level second.

1. 뭐 하시는 거예요? (mwo hasineun geoyeyo)How to Say What Are You Doing in Korean - mwo hasineun geoyeyo

2. 뭐 하는 거야? (mwo haneun geoya)

This is a common way of saying, “What are you doing?” in Korean.

3. 뭐 하고 있어요? (mwo hago isseoyo)How to Say What Are You Doing in Korean - mwo hago isseoyo

4. 뭐 하고 있어? (mwo hago isseo)

This uses the present progressive tense, so literally means “what are you doing (right now)?”

5. 뭐 하는 중이에요? (mwo haneun jungieyo)How to Say What Are You Doing in Korean - mwo haneun jungieyo

6. 뭐 하는 중이야? (mwo haneun jungiya)

This literally means, “What are you in the middle of doing?”

A Word of Caution About Romanization

If you only intend on learning one or two words in Korean, then you can get away with just reading the romanization of Korean words. However, if you want to go deeper, the first step is to learn the Korean alphabet, which is known as Hangul. This will help you understand the structure of the language and notice patterns, as well as improve your pronunciation and reading.

Take our full Korean course to get all the help you need while studying the Korean language. This will help you move from just knowing a few words and phrases to being able to converse in the language.

Now that you know how to say “What are you doing?” in Korean use this phrase to start conversations with your Korean friends!

    23 replies to "How to say “What are you doing?’ in Korean"

    • Avatar for Hye jin Hye jin

      Is this correct?

      Informal: mianhae, geureonde moeyo?

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