How To Say “What” In Korean – Basic Korean Question Word

Last Updated on September 23, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
A guy with a confused expression with his hand on his chin

Today, we will learn how to say “what” in Korean.

Going back to basics, there are a few words in any language that hold more importance than others, and what might one of those words be? The word “what,” of course! ㅋㅋ

It is integral in so many ways and in so many questions.

A guy with a confused expression with his hand on his chin

“What” is just one of the important words in Korean that you need to know when asking a question. There are several others! Check out this article for additional Korean question words.

So without further ado, let’s learn how to say “what” in Korean!

How to say “What” in Korean

The most basic way to say “what” in Korean is 뭐 (mwo). 뭐 (mwo) is what you would use when simply posing the question “what?” It is shortened from the noun 무엇 (mueot), which also means “what” in Korean. 

We’ll discuss the other ways further here.

뭐 (mwo) in Korean

뭐 (mwo) is used as the most basic way to ask “what?” in Korean. The expression 뭐라고 (mworago) can be used if you did not hear what someone said. It can also be used to ask what someone would like to drink or eat or otherwise be served, or ask what someone is doing or will be doing at a certain time.

Example:

생일날에 할거야? (saengillare mwohalgeoya?)

What will you do on your birthday?

무엇 (mueot) in Korean

무엇 (mueot) is often used in more formal situations, for example, when you have to use a higher level of politeness because the person is a stranger or older person. 

Example:

직업이 무엇입니까? (jigeobi mueosimnikka?)

What is your job?  

어떤 (eotteon) in Korean

어떤 (eotteon) is used to ask “what kind” or “which,” for example, what kind of movies someone likes.

Example:

그 파티에 어떤 옷을 입을거야? (geu patie eotteon oseul ibeulgeoya?) 

  Which clothes will you wear to that party?

무슨 (museun) in Korean

무슨 (museun) is used to ask “what” as in to clarify something such as what someone’s words meant, used to ask “what kind of” such as what kind of work someone does, used to ask “what is wrong” or “what is going on.”

Example:

무슨 일 있어요? (museun il isseoyo?) 

What’s going on?

“What is this?” in Korean

If you want to ask “what is this?” in Korean, like when you’re holding an object, and you don’t know what the object is, you can say 이게 뭐예요? (ige mwoyeyo?) or 이거 뭐예요? (igeo mwoyeyo?).

“What is it?” in Korean 

When you want to ask what something is, you may say 뭐예요? (mwoyeyo?). 

Example:

A: 할 말이 있어요 (hal mari isseoyo)

I have something to say

B: 네, 뭐예요?( ne, mwoyeyo)?

Yes, what is it?

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What in Korean Infographic

How to Write “What” in Korean

If you’d like to focus on practicing your writing skills, you can start by familiarizing each letter used in the words below. 

Here’s how you write “What” in Korean:

  • mwo → 뭐
  • mueot → 무엇 
  • eotteon → 어떤 
  • museun → 무슨 

If you’d prefer to go in-depth with learning these letters first, you can also read our articles on Korean vowels and Korean consonants.

While it is possible for you to study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul if you ever wish to come to Korea. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet and is not difficult to learn. In fact, you can learn it in just 90 minutes.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with Hangeul, life in Korea will suddenly seem so much easier, and the country won’t appear so foreign to you. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?

Wrap Up

Learning how to say “what” in Korean will certainly make asking questions a lot easier for you. But the same with English, there are other useful question words that you can use. We have full articles for each of them:

Asking more questions means learning more, so keep on asking! If you have some questions on this topic, drop them in the comment box. Happy studying!

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