Pronouns (I, You) - 나, 저, 너, 당신

In this lesson, we are going to learn about pronouns, especially, "I and You," then "He, She and They," and how their forms are changed depending on the degree of politeness.

Let's start with "I":

Informal form (나, I)

  • 나 = I

  • 내 = my
  • 내 것 = mine (written Korean)
    • 내 꺼 (usually in spoken Korean)

Note: 나 becomes 내 when combined with 가 (Identifier particle)

Polite form (저, I)

  • 저 = I

  • 제 = my
  • 제 것 = mine (written Korean)
    • 제 꺼 (usually in spoken Korean)


Now for "You":

Informal form (너, You)


    • 네 = your (written Korean)
      • 니 (usually in spoken Korean)
    • 네 것 = yours (written Korean)
      • 니 꺼 (usually in spoken Korean)


    Polite form (당신, You)


    • 당신 = your 
    • 당신 것 = yours (written Korean)
      • 당신 꺼 (usually in spoken Korean)

    Note: Just a word of caution, 당신 is very infrequently used when addressing someone in spoken Korean because it has a nuance of confrontation, and it can be offensive when used wrongly. Therefore I advise that you do not use 당신 at all when speaking in Korean!

    In Korean, if you want address someone directly, it's more common to use their designated position or status in society, for example, 선생님 (teacher), 사장님 (Head of any company), 사모님 (Wife of any respectable man), 아저씨 (middle-aged man), 아줌마 (middle-aged woman), 할아버지 (elderly man), 할머니 (elderly woman)

    Note: Doctors are called 의사 선생님 (Doctor-teacher) or just 선생님 (teacher), and any person can be called 선생님 if you learned something from that person and even if someone is not your teacher, you may choose to call him/her 선생님 if you respect them, and don't have any other particular to name to call them.


    However, please let me make this clear that it seems that 당신 is more frequently used in songs and dramas, and 당신 in songs do not sound confrontational, and offensive at all. Actually they sound very endearing in some songs for some reason. But in dramas, 당신 can still be confrontational and offensive, and so it's more likely used in the scenes where characters have verbal arguments.


    You may also hear 그 쪽 when someone is addressed. 그 쪽 is used in place of 당신 (because 당신 is avoided in spoken Korean as explained above). 그 쪽 literally means "that side." 그 쪽 is not used frequently at all. It's used between people who share a similar position or status in society, and have just met and are not sure how to address the other person.

    e.g.
    • Person A: 점심 드셨어요? (Have you had lunch?)
    • Person B: 아뇨. 아직이요. 그쪽은요? (No, not yet, what about you?)

    11 comments:

    1. I am somewhat confused about the "polite" you. If it is not advisable to use it, and if "that side" is only for people who occupy a similar position or status in society, which pronoun should one use to address a stranger, who might occupy a far higher position on the social ladder (but if you don't know what their profession is)? Would you use "that side" for them, too, until you learn what their profession is?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Robyn in space,

        You would probably avoid using "you" at all in that case until you establish who they're in a society.

        However, if you're a young adult and they're quite older than you, for example, a middle-aged man, you could say, "아저씨," which just means, "a middle-aged man" or "아줌마" which means "a middle-aged woman".

        There are many alternatives, for example, "사장님" which means CEO of any company, regardless of whether they're small or big.

        선배(님) could be used if you went to the same school as them and they're a senior in that school.


        Sometimes, when people are quite close, they may use the name of the person's son or daughter to address them.

        For example, 로빈 아빠/아버님 = Robyn's Dad/Father

        But if you're really not sure how to address them, it is still possible to still address them without using "you" at all.

        Hope this helps.

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    2. hello.... can i ask what word would you use to adress a group of people that are strangers to you? you wouldn't use 당신을 right?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. You could use 여러분 which means "everyone." I use 여러분 in my audio recording as well.

        Or, as I've written above, you can just address them without using any pronouns or names.

        For example,

        Talking to a group of strangers if they could move to the park over there, you could say,

        저쪽 공원으로 가주실래요? = Can you please move to the park over there?

        Notice, there's no names or pronouns in 저쪽 공원으로 가주실래요?

        저쪽 (over there / that side) 공원으로 (to the park) 가주실래요? (Can you please move?)

        Hope this helps.

        Delete
      2. thank you it really does. your entire blog is helpful actualy.^^

        Delete
    3. Hello Luke!
      Just wanted to ask if you clearify the difference these meanings:
      -Sometimes I hear that 내가/니가 (I/You with Identifiers) replacing the OBJECTS, not the subjects. For example:
      니가 생각나는 날엔 is translated by "That day, I(subject) think about You(object). you..."
      Since 니가 asks about "WHO", ok Who am I thinking? -You.
      But could the question be like: WHO is thinking about WHAT?

      This is so confusing... Why not
      I - Think (about) You.
      내가/난 널 생각해.

      So, I am confused when the topic 은/는 is blended in the same sentance with 가/이...
      When the 가/이 word is technicly the object like the first example?

      Thank you very much!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Ok, the subject is "니가 생각나는 날"
        The whole thing is a big subject.

        i.e. "The day when I think about you"

        For example, 니가 생각나는 날은 슬퍼 = The day when I think about you is sad.

        Hope this helps.

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    4. Hi,
      i feel confuse about 그 쪽 당신

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. 그 쪽 and 당신 both mean "you".

        당신 is not used often but it can be heard often in dramas or songs.

        그 쪽 is also used quite uncommonly but it can be used to address someone in a formal situation, e.g. when meeting someone in a business meeting and addressing someone who has a similar social status as you.

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    5. 안녕하세요! I absolutely love your blog. I'd just like to ask, is there such a word as 너가? Because a friend of mine had sent me a letter where it said, 너가 사랑하는 오빠 생일이야. Or maybe I just misread it? Thank you in advanced.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi, you're welcome! It's a late reply but 너가 사랑하는 오빠 means It's the "birthday of 오빠 you love". 너가 means "you" with an article 가 to identify "you" who "love."

        Delete

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