반말 vs 존댓말 | [Grammar of the Week]

안녕하세요!

Okay so this is kinda something I should’ve talked about in detail sooner but I did make mention of it a lot throughout the lessons. However, I do wanna go over the specifics and I found a video from Talk To Me In Korean. {full .pdf link}

Let’s get started!

First, let’s start with what these two words mean.

반말 | informal speech

존댓말 | formal speech

To put this in general terms, there is no direct translation for either of these words in English.

So when can you use them?

반말 is for conversations with your close friends and intimate relationships. It can also be used with people who are younger/older than you but under certain circumstances, i.e., you asked for permission.

존댓말 is formal conversational speech. It is used for strangers, people older than you, and employers/employees, formal situations, etc.

So how do you know if you’re speaking in 존댓말  or 반말?

  • Present tense
    (존댓말) -아/어/여요 —> -아/어/여 (반말)
    (존댓말) -이에요 / -예요 –> -이야 / -야 (반말)
  • Past tense
    (존댓말) -았/었/였어요 —> -았/었/였어 (반말)
  • Future tense
    (존댓말) -(으)ㄹ 거예요 –> -(으)ㄹ 거야 (반말)

Now that we’ve covered the basics, check out the video below to find out how it properly works in conversation!

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