Archive for July 2010

실수 vs 잘못

A mistake.

This is a tricky one. As most 하다 verbs go, the root is actually a noun. For example, 세탁하다 is a verb (to wash), but the noun form is 새탁 (a wash). Technically speaking, the word should be 세탁을 하다 (to do a wash) but not really. In almost all situations, the 을/를 is dropped. It's important to note because today's subject is 실수 and 잘못 both of which are equally used as nouns and verbs. Keep that in mind as we move on to the subtle but significant differences.

실수 (失手) is a simple mistake, error, blunder that is generally made out of innocence without any intended malice or ill-will. it signifies that the speaker made an error but it's no biggie. Extensions include a slip of the tongue (말실수), small mistake (사소한 실수) and big mistake (엄청난 실수):

사과하실 필요 없습니다. 제 실수예요.
Please don't apologize. It was my bad.

제가 말실수를 했군요
Sorry, I've made a slip of the tongue.

내가 말실수로 그녀에게 큰 상처를 준 것 같아요.
I seemed to have hurt her through my own careless words.

내가 실수를 했던 것 같네요.
I guess I've made a mistake.

그가 실수로 그런 것 같아요.
I guess he did it by mistake.

그건 사소한 실수였어요. 걱정 하지마요.
That was just a small mistake. Don't worry about it.

브렛에게 보낼 문자를 내게 보낸 것은 사소한 실수이니가 너무 미안해하지마.
It's no biggie to send me a text that was supposed to go to Brett. Don't feel sorry.

엄청난 실수 하셨네요
You made a biggie, sir.

그 사람의 약점을 놀린 것은 엄청난 실수야. 반드시 사과해야 돼.
It is a big mistake to make fun of that person's faults. You've really got to apologize.

잘못, however, is a mistake, fault or error that carries more regret behind it. Someone's to blame for the error and/or someone's asking for retribution. You done did wrong and you need to man up for what you did. However, there are situations where my inherently American English mind seems to feel that "잘못" is not appropriate. For example, calling the wrong number is actually a 잘못, not a 실수, despite being pretty innocent. This, and other situations, seem a bit excessive at times but it is what it is.

어제 술을 그렇게 많이 마시다니 내가 잘못했어.
It's my fault to drink too much yesterday.

전화 잘못 거셨습니다
You called the wrong number.

돈을 잘못 계산했냐?
Did you miscount the money?

그래요? 뭐가 잘못됐는데요?
Oh? What seems to be the problem?

2AM 조권을 여자로 잘못 보았어요.
I mistook JoKwon for a woman.

거기에는 잘못이 단 하나도 없거든요.
There is not a single mistake there.

결혼 반지를 잘못 끼고 있는 거 아니에요?
Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?

솔직히 말하면 당신 잘못이에요.
To be frank with you, it's your fault.

선생님 잘못 했습니다
Teacher, we're sorry.

어차피 (於此彼)
anyway, anyhow, in any case, after all

in any case, anyway, anyhow, at any rate

anyway, anyhow, at any rate, in any case, at all events

하여튼 (何如튼)
anyway, anyhow, at any rate, in any case

어땠든 is arguably the most used expression in everyday speech. It stands out as the most inherently neutral term. The rest can be used in negative or positive situations depending on the intonation and context. The only expression that is usually almost always used in a somewhat negative way is 어차피. Compare:

어차피 학교 가야돼
Anyway, I gotta go to school. (I have no control over it. I don't want to go but I have to.)

아무튼 학교 가야돼
Anyway, I gotta go to school. (See you later. I must go to class now)

어차피 안돼.
Anyway, it's not happening / I'm not doing it / No way, man

어땠든 안돼.
Anyway, it's out of my control / I can't do it even if I wanted to / There's no way

내가 어차피 전화하려고 했는데 형이 전화해서 다행이네.
I was supposed to call you but you called me first

아무튼 이렇게 모이게 돼서 기뻐.
we hadn't met for a long time but we had farewell finally

어쨌든 그는 네 아버지야.
He's your father for goodness sakes.

어쨌든 다신 하지 않겠습니다.
Anyway, I won't do that again.

아무튼 내 말대로만 해라. 응?
In any case, just do as I say, yeah?

아무튼 내일 거기 가겠습니다.
In any case, I'll go there tomorrow.

하여튼 만사 잘 되시길 바라며 곧 연락 드리겠습니다.
At any rate, I hope all is well and we'll talk again soon.

애교 & 내숭

Sorry for those who already read this back in May; apologies from a repost indeed.

I scoured over a few posts recently that I wanted to direct your attention to: 애교 and 내숭 are hot topics no matter your nationality or gender. A curious little thing, isn't it? For the uninitiated, 내숭 is acting introverted, shy and/or modest in the attempt to seem more desirable. The nuance is that it is (understandably) a personality incongruity. 애교 is a forced cute change of speech in order to either get something from the opposite sex or to seem more childlike. Similarly, 애교살 is that puffy under-eye look that 하지원 and 구혜선 sport so prominently.

Gots plenty of links for you. I'll just dump them by host: The Grand NarrativeKelly in Korea and The Joshing Gnome (part 1 of a 5 part series).

So what do I think? I don't have much to say other than I actually like 애교 when it's directed at me and when I hear it from anyone other than my wife I want to kill innocent cuddly forest animals in an effort to stop the cuteness overload. Really though it's too much sometimes. Like all vices (and yes, 애교 is indeed a sinful vice) it is best used in moderation. Used sparingly, it's charming. Used in regular speech, it's annoying as all get out and demonstrates a prolonged sense for attention and forced frailty. 내숭 is a bad habit that needs to be stopped. Cold turkey. Now. Oh and 애교살 is creepy looking. Just saying.

So, Korean women of the world, just speak normally when not flirting and no puppies will be hurt. Thanks.


A guy. That guy. Add ~쟁이 to something and you've got a little slang. The thing to catch is that this does't always have the overtly negative connotation that it does in English. For example, calling a friend a "coward" is a bit harsh even in a joke. However, calling a friend a "겁쟁이" isn't nearly as possibly offensive.



smart dresser, sharp dresser

magician, sorcerer, wizard

tattoo artist (lit. doodler, scribbler)

forgetful guy

a tricky guy, a man of resources, clever

고함쟁이 (高喊)
screamer, shouter, yeller

someone with sense, understand feelings well

but this doesn't always follow this pattern as in the case of ivy (담쟁이) and water strider (소금쟁이).

Can you think of any other examples?

Once a month or so my wife and I would meet my parents-in-law at their little getaway slash retirement home out in 강릉 (강원도). It's a quiet, peaceful little 황토집 made from real mud and lacks both cell phone service and internet. However, it makes up for it in plenty of private land, fresh air and is located smack dab in the middle of two breath takingly beautiful mountains. It's truly a wonderful little slice of Korea.

When we go there, my wife usually relaxes while her mother cooks some of the best food I've ever eaten. My father-in-law and myself go to work on the countless of things that need to be attended to or fixed. This could include digging a ditch, planting a tree, stacking firewood, making a garden, setting up a fence or even painting an outhouse. Due to a minor language barrier, we have to communicate the best we can using Korean and not English. I enjoy this time because it forces me to think in Korean and not rely on English. However, my manual labor language is not exactly on a native level. Keep in mind that it is usually just me, my father-in-law and the wilderness; no dictionary, no dutiful translating wife, no phone-a-friend.

We make due with a combination of simple Korean and body language. I usually have to ask about his directions to make sure that I understood it clearly. For those who are ever in a similar situation, I hope that these words will aid you in forging a happy relationship.

shovel - 삽
wheelbarrow - 손수레
rake - 갈퀴
broom - 빗자루
brick - 벽돌
stone - 돌
grass- 풀, 단디
dirt - 먼지
earth - 흙
mud - 진흙
pebbles - 자갈
cement - 시멘트
section - 부분
roof - 지방
forest - 숲
valley - 계곡
stream - 시냇물, 시냇물, 시냇가, 냇가

to dig - 파다 ex) 아버지, 지금 이 부분 파면 되요?
to plant - 심다 ex) 자기야, 여기에 딸기 심었어?
to move (transplant) 옮기다 ex) 아버님, 이 돌을 어디로 옮길까요?
to mix (cement) - 섞다 ex) 시멘트를 얼마나 섞을까요?
to paint - 칠하다 ex) 지방은 무슨 색으로 칠해요?
to dry outside - 밖에서 말리다 ex) 양말을 밖에서 말리주세요
to sweep - 쓸다 ex) 바닥에 먼지가 많은 것 같네. 좀 쓸면 어떨까.
to clean up (straighten up) -정리하다 ex) 이제 방 좀 치우고 정리하자.
to be hit (by someone) - 맞다 ex) 제가 어제 어떤 아저씨한테 머리를 맞았어요.
to hit (cause you hit someone) -때리다 ex) 그래서 저도 가서 아저씨를 때렸어요.
to hit (cause you're clumsy and you hit your head on a tree) - 부딪히다 ex) 계단에 발가락을 부딪혔다.

wake up early - 일찍 일어나다 ex) 우리는 내일 일찍 일어나야 해요.
work late - 늦게까지 일하다 ex) 우리 남편은 거의 늦게까지 일하는 적이 없어요. 우리 아내는 거의 매일 늦게까지 일했어요.
break time - 쉬는 시간, 휴식 시간 ex) 이제부터 10분 간 쉬는 시간 입니다.
to give up - 포기하다 ex) 벌써 피기 했어?

병 is a frequent offender. We've seen him in counting of bottles (甁) and in recognizing soldiers (兵士). Today we're taking a look at sickness (病) conveniently known as 병 병. He's a friend to the 통 we looked at earlier.

질병 (疾病)

병원 (病院)

공주병 (公主病)
princess disease. A slightly derogative but largely cute diagnosis to describe a spoiled girl who thinks she's royalty. The male equivalent is 왕자병 (王子病).

월요일병 (月曜日病)
a case of the Mondays. "Monday disease"

심장병 (心臟病)
heart disease

신장병 (腎臟病)
kidney disease, renal disease

정신병 (精神病)
mental illness

다병 사람 (多病人)
a sickly, frail person. Someone who is sick often.

그렇게 심각한 병은 아니에요.
It's not that serious of an illness.

A location slash place. Both refer to this but 장소 is generally more conversational while 위치 refers to a more specific location. Then again, they're practically interchangeable. But that's not to say that they mean the same thing. For sure, 장소 means "place" while 위치 means "location" which, while related, are not the same thing. So how does one split hairs on this one in Korean? Then again, how would one differentiate "location" from "place" in English? Thankfully these two words carry the same weight as in English so if you internally  feel confident knowing the difference, then you're already in the right place. So to say.

위치 (位置)
position, location, site

장소 (場所)
place, spot, point, scene, position, location, site, venue


그가 그는 가구의 위치를 바꿨어요.
He changed the location of the furniture.

저희 새로운 사무실 위치가 어디지요? -
Our new offices are located where exactly?

텍사스는 해발 530m에 위치합니다.
Texas is located 530 meters above sea level.

당신이 장소를 정해요
You pick the place.

공공장소에서는 담배를 피우면 안 됩니다.
There's no smoking in public places.

헤어지고 싶어. 약속 장소에 나타나지 않았잖아.
I want to break up. You know you didn't show up for our date.
(lit. you didn't appear at the appointment location)

The only reason why I bring this up is that in English we use the same word "bag" for a purse, satchel, and indeed a plastic bag used at a grocery store. In Korean, the plastic bag that polite store clerks ask if you need to go with your purchased goods ("봉투 필요하세요?") I used to make the mistake of telling the clerk 가방 필요 없어요. I'm sure she was wondering why I was telling her that I had no need for a man purse.

This native Korean word means "bag" as in:
서류 가방 document bag
가죽 가방 leather bag
여행 가방 travel bag [just like 짐 (朕)]

봉투 (封套)
bag, sack, envelope

In summary, a 가방 is a fashionable, purchasable briefcase or purse that is worn around the shoulders. A 봉투 is a thin, plastic non-eco friendly shopping bag accompanied by loaves of bread and groceries. 봉투 can also be a mailing envelope. If you ask for a 봉투 and someone happily offers you a thin black plastic bag used to carry fruit, politely smile and ask instead for a 편지 봉투 instead.

I'm not that great at distinguishing 어 and 오 when I speak and to a lesser extent 이 and 으. I'm also not that great at properly pronouncing words with ㄹ which kind of limits my level of clarity for anyone to listen to what I have to say. I know. it'll get better with practice. In the meantime, I'm mushmouth extraordinaire.

One thing that always, for whatever reason, confuses me is the difference between 어린이 and 어른. Ironically, they could not be more opposite in meaning, standing for "young" and "old" respectively. If 어른 has the subject marker, it's 어른이, of course. Which to me sounds a lot like 어린이 when I speak. Course, if 어린이 has the subject marker, it's all gravy: 어린이가. So how do I remember the difference?

어린이 always has the 이 ending attached to it. It's part of the definition. That kind of reminds me of the 이 ending the we use to address kids. Think about calling someone 소연. If they were just a kid, you'd call them 소연이~ right?

I have an awful mnemonic for 어른. Okay, so little kids are always running around and standing up cause they have so much energy, right? Well, the ㅣ in 린 is like a person standing up. The ㅡ in 른 is like a prerson laying down, right? Like an older person lays down to rest. So the ㅡ in 어른 makes me think of an older person taking a nap. Am I bad for saying this?

Anyway, I feel bad for the borderline ageism but hey if it confused you before, you'd surely remember it from now on. Thus ends another entry for Korean Grammar You Should Already Know.

What's so funny? The difference between these two little jokers is no laughing matter.

농담 (弄談)
kidding, joking (through speech)

playing, teasing (through action)

The English explanation sounds a bit off but stay with me. 농담 is easy to define because it has the 말씀 담 (談) in it's name. You know off the bat that it's something to do with speaking. The preceding character is 희롱 농 (弄) which is like a taunt, mock or jeer. You may have seen this in 성희롱 (性戱弄) which means "sexual harassment".

장난 is a bit different. This natively Korean expression is more encompassing. It can be an action speech or a sticked out tongue (메롱) given to some kid onthe subway giving you the stink eye. Whatever it is, it's a joke. You can also see this in 장난감 which is a "toy" or also my personal favorite but not so common 붓장난 which can be interpreted as "hack writing". The idea is that someone's writing is so bad that it must be a joke.


장난 아냐! 사실이야.
I'm not kidding! I'm telling the truth.

어렸을때 그 곰 인형은 제일 좋아하는 장난감이었어요.
That teddy bear was my favorite plaything as a kid.

그것도 농담이라고 해요?
You call that a joke?

농담할 기분이 아니에요.
I'm not in the mood for jokes.

이제 농담은 그만 해야겠군요.
I seems I should stop joking now, yeah?

농담은 집어치우고 진짜 이유를 말해 봐요.
All joking aside, what's the real story?

If you're just dropping by a friend's house because you were already in the neighborhood, what would you say if you were to say it in Korean? Would you use "area" or "neighborhood"? You might be surprised. Let's take a look:

동네 means "neighborhood" or more loosely used in Seoul "town". The criteria is there are houses and it's a fixed, measurable area, like a 동 (洞).

However, 근처 (近處) means "vicinity" or "area" as in 홍대. It could be the name of the actually university, Hongik University, or it could be a reference to the too-many-to-count bars and night clubs in the area. It's just a point of reference; an area of reference to be exact. It depends on each person's frame of reference but it's a relative term. If you're from a small town near 울산, which is in its own right a smaller city, you might just tell people that you're from 울산 근처 just to make it easier on people.

The difference lies in the amount of specificity. Take for instance:

이 동네에서 태어났어요.
I was born in this neighborhood. (this specific area. measurable)
이 근처에서 태어났어요.
I was born in this area. (relative, nonspecific and subjective)

More examples:

우리 학교 근처에 스시집 있어요.
There's a sushi place in my school's area

이대 근처는 집값이 정말 비싸요.
The price of housing around Ewha Womans University is expensive.

이 동네는 마음에 안 들어요.
I don't like this neighborhood.

이 근처에 왔다가 한번 들러 본 거예요.
I was in the neighborhood and I thought I'd drop by

Next up on our Hanja cavalcade is 통 (痛). 아플 통 to be specific. Next time you feel the need to eek out a complaint of symptoms (증상) to a doctor or loved one about a migraine, chest or muscle pain, remember this little guy and he might just make you feel better. Probably not though.

두통 (頭痛)

편두통 (偏頭痛)
migraine headache

치통 (齒痛)

복통 (腹痛)
stomachache, bellyache, abdominal pains

생리통 (生理痛)
menstrual pains, cramps

근육통 (筋肉痛)
muscle pains

요통 (腰痛)

흉통 (胸痛)
chest pains

성장통 (成長痛)
growing pains

고통 (苦痛)
pain, distress

Some might have noticed this advertisement for a cure-all that demonstrates this hanja character nicely.

But don't start getting cute and think that 쓰레기통 means "trash pain" It's a different 桶

A non-internet request is happily filled. On occasion, I must admit, I flip the correct usage of hot and cold. It's just a knee-jerk reaction from time to time. I used to get really frustrated with talking about heat until I was humbled by the sheer number of verbs for "to wear". I then stopped jinxing my luck.

춥다 condition of being cold
차갑다 cold to the touch

When you're outside and it's chilly, it's 추워요. If it's around you, it's this type of cold.
When you dip your toe into the pool and it's nippy, it's 차가워요. If you touched it, it's this type of cold.

덥다 condition of being hot
뜨겁다 hot to the touch

When you're standing outside waiting for the bus in the summer, it's 더워요. If you're sweating, it's this type of heat.
When you take a sip of your morning coffee and discover that it's burning a hole in your mouth, it's 뜨거워요. If you touched it, it's this type of heat.
*Also, when you've had your fill of 청량고추 and want to call it a day because you think you have discovered an ulcer in your stomach, it's 매워요. If it's spicy, it's this type of heat.

Hope that clears it up. Just in case one starts to think that only Korean is unnecessarily confusing, consider in English the multiple uses of "china" (the country, dishes), "story" (book, building floor, lie), and "butt" (fanny, bottom of a gun, to interfere).

성 (聖)

Not a terribly common Hanja character but an easy one to recognize in Hangul is 聖 (성인 성). It stands for 'Holy'.

성경 (聖經)
the Bible, holy book

구약성경 (舊約聖書)
*the Old Testament

신약성경 (新約聖書)
the New Testament

성가 (聖歌)
church hymns, sacred songs

성수 (聖水)
holy water

성인 (聖人)
saint, holy person

성경 용어 (聖經 用語)
Biblical language

성화 (聖火)
the Olympic torch, holy fire

성단 (聖壇)
a pulpit, altar, shrine

holy item, thing

holy communion, Eucharist

*Don't be goofy and assume that 신약 means "foot medicine". The correct hanja are 新 (새 신) and 舊 (옛 구)

**There's lots, and I do mean, lots of 성 out there so be careful. One of them is 星 that stands for "star" as in "three stars" 삼성 (三聖) or "star cluster" 성단 (星團). Another is 性 which stands for "sex" as in "gender" 성별 (性別) and "personality" 성격 (性格)

I like Korean cell phones for a number of reasons. One of which is that almost all have an easily accessible Eng-Kor and Kor-Eng dictionary available. While never quite as detailed as Naver's dictionary, when I need to find a quick answer it gets the job done. One of my favorite features is the ability to add a word to a saved list to remember for later. The following is what is left after a year in Korea and also after deleting plenty of words that I have since learned and was too embarrassed that I ever didn't know them. What remains are words that I am either vaguely aware of or not confident yet to use on my own. Hopefully, a year later I can look at these and laugh. I'll spare you some of the words that I'm omitting from the list but suffice it is to say that it used to include words like 장갑, 열쉬, 이틀, 부장 and 전문가답지 못하다. Enjoy!

구파 - the old school, conservative

구토하다 - to vomit

처방전 - prescription

배려 - consideration, care, concern

기침 - cough

전립선 - prostate

예술가 - artist

원자력 - nuclear power

계약 - contract

독립 - independence

자유로운 상태 - freedom

논어 - Analects of Confucius

병따개 - bottle opener

자녀 - sons and daughters

침 뱉다 - to spit

보물 - treasure, highly prized item

통근하다 - to commute

비단 - silk

신용 사기 - scam

공룡 - dinosaur

추천 - recommendation

명령 - order (someone to do something)

질질 끌다 - procrastinate

훈련 - training

부적당한 - inappropriate

무사히 - safely

완전하다, 완벽하다 - perfect

간접적 - indirect

직접적 - direct

암에 걸리다 - to get cancer

선입관 - preconception

확인하다 - to check, verify

종교 - religion

합창단 - choir

세례 - baptism

보육 - childcare

낙태 - abortion

공연 - public performance

자루 걸레 - a mop

건축학 - architecture

품질 - quality

수량 - quantity

여정 - itinerary

지원자 - volunteer

미신 - superstition

면접 - interview

일반적 - universal, general

정확 - accuracy, precision

식물 - plant

결심 - determination, resolution

셜합 - a union

경헙 - an experience

편집병의 - paranoid

나누다 - to divide, share

합격 - success in examination

안심 - peace of mind

무덥다 - sweltering, steaming

환영 - a welcome, ovation

성과 - a result, product, fruit of labor

과연 - as was expected, just as one thought

멍 - bruise

독후감 - one's impression after reading a book or poem

A friendly commenter asked and so he shall receive: 처음 vs. 먼저. However, I want to add a bit of extra curiosity to the mix. Enter: 일단.

Is the Korean version of 先 (먼저 선) which means to "come first". This is indeed the same 선 found in 선생님 (先生님), which in turn can be roughly translated to "person of respect who was born first". This might help to answer the question of why some people who clearly are not teachers by profession get called "선생님". As an aside, in archeologic/geographic terms, 선 can also be used to express "Proto" or "Pre" as in 선캄브리아 (Pre-Cambrian Time) and 선코카소이드 (Proto-Caucasoid). However, it's not a 1:1 match as 原 (원) is another hanja that expresses this meaning. Just keep in mind that it means "to come before" or "first of all" in terms of order.

먼저 가겠습니다
I'm going to leave early*
(*said to coworkers when leaving the lunch table or office before them)

먼저 하세요
You do it first*
(*said to someone you don't know or is higher than you that it's fine of they do whatever they are doing before you. Think of drinking water at a fountain or walking through a door)

먼저 가요
You go first*
(*said to someone leaving a party without any hard feelings)

먼저 할래?
Do you want to do it first?

먼저 이겼다!
I won!
I finished first!

닭이 먼저인가 달걀이 먼저인가?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Is also a native Korean expression to signify the first or beginning of something. What distinguishes it is the nuance of being the first time for something. It doesn't imply order but instead an experience or action.

처음 처럼
Like the first time

처음 뵙겠습니다
Nice to meet you
(lit. I'll see you for the first time)

처음부터 기분이 좋았어요
처음부터 마음에 들었어요
I liked it from the beginning

오늘 처음으로 운전했어요
Today was the first time I drove.

그러면 남자친구를 언제 처음 만났어요?
In that case, when did you first meet your boyfriend?

와. 처음 봤어요
Wow. That's the first time I saw it.

이곳에 처음 오신 건가요?
Is this your first time to this place, sir?

그녀는 처음에는 그렇지 않았어요.
She wasn't like that at the beginning.

Is based on (一旦) and means pretty much the same thing as the other examples. Instead of defining it as "first" or "once" though, I would say it's more like "for the time being" and "for the moment". To me, it signifies a temporary fix; a reaction to save a poorly planned event. Perhaps even a conditional clause like "first do this and then...". However, replacing it for the word "once" is also seemingly acceptable.

일단 술을 마시기 시작하면 너무 많이 마시다.
Once I start drinking, I drink too much.

일단 결심하면 고수해야돼요.
Once you make a decision, you should stick with it.

일단 우리집으로 오면 그때 말해 줄게. 알았어?
For the time being, just come home and I'll tell you then. Okay?

여보 어디가요? 일단 우회전하고 좌회전이라고 했어요.
Honey where are you going? I said turn right first, then turn left.

일단 밥을 먹고 그렇게 하자.
For the moment being, let's eat and then do that.

그렇게 춥지 않아. 일단 물 속에 들어오면 괜찮는데...
It's not that cold. Once you get in the water, it's not that bad...

알몸, 맨몸

알몸, 맨몸, 나체, 裸體, 아무것도 없는 상태
naked, nude, stark naked, in the buff, wearing your birthday suit, nudey, nakey,

however you say it, it makes you giggle. Looking at one of the definitions can be kind of productive. 맨 can be attached to many other words to create other expressions.

맨몸 naked body
맨손 bare hands
맨발 bare feet
맨얼굴 no makeup, fresh faced
생얼 fresh faced (more common slang for 맨얼굴)
맨팔 bare arms
맨다리 no panty hose

Just don't get carried away and start thinking that 맨날 means "naked day".

If you're OO and you know it clap your hands. So what is being happy in Korean? 행복하다, right? What about 기쁘다? Couldn't you also say 즐겁다? Take a seat smiley and let's break it down.

행복하다 : happy

주말에 짐찔방에 가서 너무 행복했었어요
I was so happy that we went to the sauna.

결혼하게 돼서 행복해.
I'm happy to get married!

그냥 행복하고싶은데...
I just want to be happy...

기쁘다 : glad, happy, pleased

오늘 모임에 와줘서 기뻐.
I'm pleased that you joined the meeting today.

어제 우리는 작은 형이랑 맥주를 마셔서 기뻤어요
I'm happy that we went drinking with my older brother.

결혼기념일을 기억 해서 기뻐요
I'm so glad that you remembered our wedding anniversary.

즐겁다 : joy, pleased, enjoy

오늘 모임 정말 즐거웠어요.
Today the party was pleasant.

점심시간은 언제나 즐거워요.
I'm joyful whenever it's lunchtime.

음악 수업은 항상 즐거워요.
Music class is always enjoyable.

저의 영어 수업은 즐거운 수업이 될거예요!!!
Our English class is going to be really enjoyable.

행복하다 and 즐겁다 are continuous states of being. Both are quite similar but I feel 행복하다 is deeper. Perhaps because I'm more of a writer at heart? 기쁘다 is more tricky. It's a bit more temporary but can lead to being 행복하다. Maybe, if I have many 기쁜 날, then my life is 행복하다. Actually I guess it also depends on each person's feeling or habits of expression. I tend to be more deadpan in my spoken expressions so that certainly affects how I might say just how happy I am. But I'm also a drama queen when it comes to food, so I can say 한국에 살아서 맨날 청국장을 먹을 수 있어서 행복해요. Other people might say 괜찮았어, 좋았어, 맛있었어, 나쁘지 않았어 but one can also just say that they're happy.

Although it depends on who you ask, I would say that 기뻐 is more commonly spoken while 행복해 is a more written form of expression, but certainly not exclusive to writing. 행복했어 can be found alot in the lyrics of a song or a personal diary, while 기뻐, is more like an instant feeling.

a) 오늘 우리 한국이 축구를 이겨서 정말 기쁘다~~!!!
b) 오늘 우리 한국이 축구를 이겨서 정말 행복해~~!!!
both can be used but a) is more natural.

Human body colloquialisms. I'll stick with close to literal translations just for fun. Also, Although I don't use everyone of these all the time, some would still prove useful if not just to hear them in spoken context. So get ready for your eyes to itch, your mouth to be heavy and your eyes to be high.

발이 넓다 someone that knows a lot of people
우리 아버지는 발이 넓어서 모르는 사람이 거의 없을 것같아요
My dad's "feet are so big" that it seems that there hardly isn't anyone that he doesn't know.

발을* 끊다 to stop visiting, to break off relations
이제부터 술집에 발을 끊았어요.
From now on, "my feet are stopping" to go to bars.
*note: careful not to say 발이 끊다" because that means to cut off your feet.

발벗고 나서다 to help other people with enthusiasm
우리 할머니께서는 아주 친절하니까 무슨 일이라면 발벗고 나서서 도와 주셔요.
My grandmother is so kind that if there's a problem she'll "take off her feet, leave home" and help you.

귀가 얇다 someone that easily changes their mind, easily convinced
너 귀가 얇아? 왜 살 빼는 약을 많이 샀어?
Are "your ears thin"? Why did you buy so many weight loss pills?

귀가 아프다 nitpicking, nagging (잔소리)
알았어. 됐고! 듣기 싫다고! 귀가 아파다고!
Alright. That's enough! I don't want to hear anymore. I told you that "my ears hurt!"

귀가 가렵다 someone's talking about you, your ears are burning
왜 이렇게 귀가 가렵지?
Why are "my ears so itchy?"

귀가 없다 as suggested in a helpful comment, this is crudely asking someone if they are even listening to you.
너 귀 없어?
Do you "not have any ears"?

입이 무겁다 to keep a secret well
걔는 입이 무겁기 때무네 믿을 수 있어요.
Because his "mouth is heavy" you can trust him.

입에 안 맞다 to not fit one's taste, style; not your thing, not a fan
중국음식이 입에 안 맞아서 중국에 갔다왔을때 살이 뺐어요.
Because Chinese food "doesn't match my mouth" when I went to China, I lost weight.

입이 짧다 picky, selective about food or style
보통 아무 음식이나 많이 먹지 않아요. 입이 짧거든요.
I usually don't eat a lot of food. "My mouth is short".

손이 크다 to be really generous, to splurge
누나! 무슨 음식을 이러게 많이 준비했어? 벌써 배가 불러! 정말 손이 커요.
Why did you prepare so much food? We're already full! "Your hand is big."

손이 모자라다 to be short staffed, to not have enough help
엄마! 일이 너무 많아! 손이 모자라서 도와 주시겠어요?
Momma! There's too much to do! Since "my hands are insufficient" could you help me?

손을 잡다 to make an agreement, a pact (제휴하다)
오늘은 A화사 하고 B화사가 손을 잡았습니다.
Today 'A'Company and 'B'Company "shook hands."

눈이 높다 to have a discerning eye for someone, to have high standards
혜진씨는 눈이 높기 때문에 거의 다 남자들이 싫거든요
Because Hyejin has "high eyes" she hates almost all men.

눈감아 주다 turn a blind eye, look the other way
그래요? 속도 위반 딱지요? 한 번 눈감아 주세요. 앞으로 조심하겠습니다.
Really? A speeding ticket? Please "close your eyes". I'll be more careful in the future.

눈앞이 캄캄하다 to go black, to be so worried that you almost blackout
시험 몬 봤어요. 선생님 다시 한 번 보면 안 돼요? 빨리 대답을 해주세요. 눈앞이 캄캄해요. 떨어진 것 같아요.
I failed that test. Can I take the test one more time? Please answer me. "My eyes are going black". I think I'm going to collapse.

코앞에 닥치다 to cross a bridge when one comes to it, to deal with it when it happens eventually
수능학원에 안 가고 공부를 하지않아서 코앞에 닥친 시험 때문에 도망가고싶어요.
Because I didn't go to SAT cram schools and didn't study, because of the test that "is approaching my nose" I want to run away.

코에 붙이다 to not prepare enough food for guests
이것밖 없어요? 누구 코에 붙이겠어요? 빨리 시켜야돼요.
There's only this? Who has "something stuck to their nose?" Hurry up and order some more food!

콧대가 높다 to be arrogant, cocky, stuck up
민희의 성격은 데기 싫어요. 콧대가 너무 높으니까.
I really hate Minhee's personality. It's because her "nose is so high"

There's nothing more embarrassing than having to ask where the bathroom is in broken Korean. If I had to pinpoint a particular moment when my face and pride first went out the window (first implies that my face has been lost many times which would be a correct assumption) it would be the awkward bathroom moment. I couldn't remember which one to say:
화장실 어디있어요?
화장실 어디예요?

To me, they both made sense. Now, I know the difference, but how can we differentiate them in English? How can I justify not using one over the other? First things first, a note about the subject. If the subject is an inanimate object, like, say the bathroom, it's fine to use both. If it's a person, you only have one option. Moving on with examples:

화장실 어디있어요? (o) Where is the restroom located? (shortened form)
화장실이 어디에 있어요? (o) Where is the restroom located? (grammatically correct)
화장실 어디예요? (o) Where is the restroom?

Both questions are asking the location of the restroom but the nuance is slightly different. Feel free to use both. Problem solved, right? Now, as for a person:

(다) 효연이 어디예요? (x) Where is the Hyoyeon?
(라) 효연이 어디있어요? (o) Where is Hyoyeon?

The first example doesn't make grammatical sense because 효연 is a person. I liken it to adding an unnecessary article like "the". I will say though that sometimes it can be heard in spoken language. It is a genuine mistake but then again, so is "That ain't right", "We be tough on'em" and "Git'er done".

A piece of cake. 씩 is a piece of something. like saying "a piece" "per" or "만큼" and is used with money a lot.

우리 아이에게 만원씩 줬어
I gave each of my kids ten dollars.
I gave my kids ten dollars a piece.

조금씩 먹어라
eat nice and slow; chew your food (piece by piece)

보통 하루에 네 번씩 식사를 해요
I usually eat four times a day.

저는 날마다 10시간씩 근무해요
I work 10 hours a day.

한 학생에 사탕 두 새씩 줬어요
I gave two pieces of candy to each student.

한 주 다섯 번씩 운동해요
I work out five times a week.


식 (式) is much more versatile and is used much more frequently. The form that was getting me confused with the spelling was the ~식 that stands for "ceremony" or "way"

wedding ceremony

American way

graduation ceremony



this way

치 (癡)

I like a good Hanja. Like a fine wine, I savor a sweet bouquet of Korean prose. 치 is a like really short poem that makes me smile. When you fail at something, stick to a few of these 치 (癡) examples. Be generous with the translations as they really aren't 1:1:

길치 no sense of direction
음치 tone-deaf, can't carry a tune to save one's life
몸치 can't dance; clumsy
박치 have no sense of rhythm, tempo

여기가 어딘 지 모르겠어. 길치니까 여기 못 찾아 올거야.
I have no clue where I am now. Since I have no sense of direction, looks like I can't find my way back here again.

응? 노래 한 곡 해봐라고? 안되요, 저 음치예요.
Huh? You want me to sing a song? No way. I can't carry a tune to save my life.

그는 몸치여서 항상 사람들과 부딪힌다.
He's so clumsy that he's always bumping into people
너 몸치구나. 매튜야, 좀 더 유연하게 춤을 춰야지.
Wow you really can't dance. Matthew, you should dance more smoothly.

박수를 치면서 왜 이렇게 박자를 못 맞추니. 박치도 아니고 말이야.
Why can't you keep the beat while you're clapping? Don't you even have a sense of tempo?

The last two examples are similar. Take a look at how they differ. 몸치 refers to someone who has no sense of 동작 while 박치 refers to someone who can't hold 박자. Think of one of those kids back in junior high that tried to drum on their desk with a pencil but failed miserably but were pleasantly unaware of how bad it sounded. Those kids are 박치. I'm more of a 몸치 kind of guy because I'm both clumsy and can't dance.

동작 movement, gesture, motion
박자 time, beat

*Thanks to 석진 of TTMIK for clarification


An incredibly easy to hear verb ending, this one was hard for me to pick up at first because it sounded so close to the ~찮아 in 괜찮아. So, at first I thought it meant "it's okay" but like most things, I was totally wrong.

~잖아요 is used when the both the speaker and listener are well aware of the topic. As we looked at ~거든 earlier, the speaker informs the listener of the reason that he/she doesn't know. In ~잖아, it's the opposite. Both the speaker and the listener already know the reason or event and this is just to confirm that both already know. I would also like to emphasize that this can be incredibly rude when used improperly. Use 요 when needed and avoid using altogether when speaking to a much higher person. Using this with a slightly socially higher person is okay, just use with care. Also, the examples I'm going to use take a bit of background context to fully understand. Any dialogue assumes the other person is fully aware of the fact.


A: 이번주말에 가까운 곳으로 놀러 가는 게 어때요?
This weekend, how does hanging out a place nearby sound?

B: 그것보다는 주말에 집에서 공부하는 게 좋겠어요. 다음 주가 시험이잖아요.
How about studying at home instead? Next week, you know I have a test.

A: 인터넷 쇼핑으로 부츠를 사줄까요?
Can I buy you some boots over the internet?

B: 흠...직접 옷가게에 가서 쇼핑하자. 인터넷으로 사면 품질을 확인할 수 없잖아.
Hmm...Let's buy it directly at the store. If we buy from it off the internet, you know that there's no way to check the quality.

A: 승기 씨, 이 자료를 영어부터 한국어까지로 번역 해주시겠어요? 저 영어 자신 없는데요..
Hey Seungki, could you please translate these documents from English to Korean? I'm not really confident...

B: 무슨 소리야. 민기야, 10년 정도 호주 살았잖아. 영어 잘 하잖아!
What're talking about? Minki, you lived in Australia for 10 years. You know you can speak English well!

The "you know that..." doesn't really fully translate. It's just something that must be understood.

I really Schruted this one at first. Since I hear it from kids a lot (and my wife when she talks in a cute way) I thought it was a way of making the sentence sound cute. Like a built in grammar point for "Andy have a boo-boo tummy".

Instead, it gives the listener a reason for something. If the speaker is saying something that the listener doesn't know the reason behind the action, then this verb ending helps to clarify "this is why". It sounds cute when it's used cutely but it has a genuine meaning outside the baby world. It also is very context heavy so it's hard to give a single, one sentence explanation.


A: 왜 전화 안 했어?
B: 어? 전화 했다고?....못 들었거든.
A: 아~ 그랬구나.

A: Why didn't you call?
B: Huh? You called? I didn't hear it...
A: Oh, okay. No biggie.

Careful because the same conversation can sound pretty coarse depending on the intonation.

A: 왜 전화 안 했어?
B: 전화기 소리가 안들렸다고!! 나보고 어떡하라고!!!
A: 뭐? !@$@%$#%$#%

A: Why didn't you call me?
B: Well I didn't hear the phone ring, alright? What do you want from me?
A: What? You little!!!

More examples:

A: 왜 성당에서 결혼식을 올렸나요?
B: 신부가 천주교 신자이시거든요.

A: Why did you have the wedding at a cathedral?
B: Because the bride is Catholic (that's why)

A: 매튜형은 왜 지인이와 만날 때마다 다투나요?
B: 둘다 미국 사람이지만 나는 텍사스 출신이고 지인이는 캘리포니아 출신이거든요.

A: Why do you always bicker with Linda?
B: Both of us are Americans but I'm from Texas and she's from California (that's why).

"~거든" can feel friendly at times and cranky at other times. I didn't really leave the best examples but hopefully this will be enough to catch it in real life.