Posted: 2010-06-16 / Updated: 2018-02-07

To study this grammar point, please make sure you understand the following:

Honorific Speech and Speech Levels in Korean is the most common form of speech in daily conversation. It is also called Haeyoche(해요체). It is mainly used between strangers to demonstrate some kind of social distance, or when talking to people more senior to show respect.

When you look up a verb or adjective in a dictionary, it is always written with a 다 ending. In order to Essential Concepts and Terms for Grammar Study a Korean verb or adjective to its informal polite form, Word Stems of Korean Verbs and Adjectives and use Korean Verb and Adjective Conjugation to attach 아요 or 어요 to it.

어-Type Conjugation
  • If the last vowel of the stem is 아 or 오, attach 아요 to the stem.
  • If the last vowel is 으 and its previous vowel is 아 or 오, attach 아요 to the stem.
  • Otherwise, attach 어요 to it.
  • Do Korean Verb and Adjective Conjugation if necessary.

Exception: Use original stems to conjugate ㄹ-irregular verbs and adjectives.*

Examples Common Korean Verbs

Verbs/AdjectivesDictionary FormMeaningOriginal StemAlternate StemInformal Polite FormVowel Contraction
ㅎ-Irregular그렇다to be so그렇그러그래요Y

Compare the sentences of using the Formal Polite Form of Korean Verbs and Adjectives and informal polite form of saying the same meanings:

점심을 먹습니다.
점심을 먹어요.
I eat lunch.
음악을 듣습니다.
음악을 들어요.
I listen to music.
편지를 씁니다.
편지를 써요.
I write a letter.

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