Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Introducing yourself in Korean isn´t as daunting and difficult as you may think. Once you got the basic rules down its actually pretty easy! Many of my students are pleasantly surprised after our first class together at how easy it actually is to put together a very basic but important sentence in Korean. I always tell my students when it comes to learning Korean try to make your sentences as simple as possible and you will have no problem!
So let's get straight to it! How do you introduce yourself in Korean?
The first thing you should know is that Korean sentence patterns, unlike English, are SOV (Subject + Object + Verb). Yeah, I know what you are thinking! So that means Koreans speak ¨backwards¨? Well if you compare it to English or many other Western languages; yes. In Korean, the verb goes at the end of the sentence.
Note: Koreans typically introduce themselves by saying ¨ I am_____¨
I am Nathan.
I Nathan am. ( 저는 네이뜬이에요. )
I: 저 (Jo)
는 (neun): Topic marker used to describe and state facts after nouns (*These don´t exist in English)
이에요 (iaeyo): am
The Verb ¨To Be¨ In Korean
The verb ¨ to be ¨ in Korean is 이다 ( i da).
Great news! Korean does not conjugate verbs to agree with the subject. For example, I am, He is, She is, They are, etc. Nope! These don´t exist in Korean!
Verb conjugations depend upon the verb tense. Korean conjugations in Korean grammar decide the tense, tone, and mood of the speaker. Don´t worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds!
이다 in formal present tense has 3 forms which all can mean am, is, are, & it is depending on the context of the sentence.
입니다 (ibnida) usually used in official documents, news or when meeting someone for the first time. This is the highest formal version of am, is, & are.
이에요 ( iaeyo ) & 예요 ( yaeyo ) are used in everyday Korean. 이에요 ( iaeyo ) is used if the noun you are using in your sentence has a bottom consonant. 예요 ( yaeyo ) is used when there is no bottom consonant.
네이뜬이에요! ( It´s Nathan )
Nathan written in Hangul (Korean alphabet) has a bottom consonant (ㄴ) so we have to use 이에요 ( iaeyo ).
사라예요 ( It´s Sarah )
Sarah written in Hangul does not have a bottom consonant so we have to use 예요 ( yaeyo ).
Topic Markers ( 은, 는)
Topic marking particles are used to let the other people know what you are talking about, describe things, and state facts. Topic marking particles are attached after nouns.
은 (eun) is used if your noun has a bottom consonant.
는 (neun) is used if your noun does not have a bottom consonant.
Today since we are learning how to introduce ourself and talk about ourself we have to attach a topic marker to the subject of the sentence which is 저 (I)
Put It All Together
저는______예요/이에요. I am________
Jo neun_______( yaeyo )/ ( iaeyo )
I am Sarah
저는 사라예요. ( Jo neun Sarah yaeyo. )
Direct English translation: I Sarah am.
I am Hakjin.
저는 학진이에요. ( Jo neun Hakjin iaeyo )
I am a student.
저는 학생이에요. (Jo neun haksaeng iaeyo )
I am a teacher.
저는 선생님이에요. ( Jo neun seon saeng nim iaeyo )
So now that we know how to describe ourself, how would you describe someone else using a topic marker and 이에요 ( iaeyo )/ 예요 ( yaeyo )?
Sarah is a student.
아빠는 미국 사람이에요.
Dad is American.
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