Speech Styles & 해요

If you say ‘나는 점심 먹었다’ which means ‘I had lunch’, it can be very rude to some person even though it only means ‘I had lunch’. That is odd. How can this simple sentence cause a problem in the Korean language?




Guess Time

Before we start, I’m going to give you 2 sentences. Both sentences use the exact same words and the same syntax. However, for Koreans, they are very different. Can you tell what’s different between them?


저녁 먹었어?
Did you have dinner?


저녁 먹었어요?
Did you have dinner?




The Difference

As I said, both sentences used the exact same words and the same syntax. The only difference was a single letter which was 요. How can this single letter make a big difference?


저녁 먹었?
Did you have dinner?


저녁 먹었어?
Did you have dinner?


Yes, because this 요 is an honorific ending which means the ‘speaker’ is showing a polite manner or a respect to the ‘listener’. That’s similar to  ‘sir’ in English except that 요 should be used in all sentences. It makes you sound way more polite, gentle and respectful.


Isn’t it amazing? Simply by adding 요, Your speech sounds much more polite and gentle. And this is what speech style 해요 dose in the Korean language.




Speech Styles in Korean Language

The Korean language uses something special, but also necessary, to show respect, social states, mood,  intimacy, dialects and so many other things in language. It happens when you add endings and this unique grammatical function is called speech styles (말투 or 어체).


What you’ve seen so far is 해요 speech style. By the way, 해요 isn’t the only speech style in Korean language. The Korean language has, at least, 6 basic speech styles. and also, each person can make their own speech styles.


Korean Language Course 04. Speech Styles & 해요 1 img


‘문을 여시오’ sounds formal but it doesn’t sound polite at all. Just like this, speech styles are more than formality. Then, what kind of speech style do we have to use?




해요 in Korean Language

Haeyo (해요) speech style is coloquial (conversational) honorific which means it fits on almost all situations. When you talk to strangers, when you talk to older people than you, when you speak to an audience group, when you talk to not so close people.


저녁 먹었어?
Did you have dinner?


나중에 문자해
Text me later.


한국어 공부했어
I studied Korean.


해요 is polite enough but not too formal, casual enough to have daily conversations but not too rude. Perfect for any place, any time without a single trouble. This is exactly what every beginner needs.




Hada Speech Style

You also need to know 하다 speech style. This speech style is not used very commonly in conversations. However, it’s the most basic form of words so it’s often called ‘dictionary form’.


to eat


Since it’s the most basic form, translators and dictionaries always use it. However, it doesn’t fit in conversations. This is why native Koreans often tell which is a foreigner using a translator.


와 진짜 예쁘다!
Wow, it’s so beautiful!
= Exclamation


그 남자는 문을 향해 걸어갔다
The man walked to the door
= Novel style


It’s also used for writing a book or a report, telling a concise statement, exclamations and some conjugations.




A Good Question

Now, you’ve learned one of the most important parts of the Korean language. You have to remember you can’t say anything without adding speech styles. That’s how the Korean language really works. Then… What is the difference exactly between formality and honorific in Korean language? Let’s check the next tutorial! And if you liked this tutorial, join in us in Patreon, we’re waiting for you there!



Jun Hamm

Author img

⠂Made in Korea
⠂Made of 100% Korean
⠂Adjusted as 100% Korean
⠂Ready to active Professor Mode
⠂Love to make people laugh as much as I love to teach

Hello everyone, it’s your Korean teacher Jun! Thanks for learning Korean with me! I really want to say I admire your enthusiasm and passion for learning languages. No one forced you to yet you are here on your own to expand your knowledge. I’m happy I’m a part of it ?

I spent years making all the tutorials and I really hope it’d be super duper helpful for you. Also, I should mention that this website has been possible thanks to so many people with a good heart. They are the second author of all tutorials! ?




This Course Was $15

$15, maybe it’s nothing that you can earn after a couple of hours of labor. Or, maybe you have to work for full days to earn it only because of where you were born. And $15, It’s the average price of Korean textbooks. Life is unfair. But that’s why we can help each other, we are helping each other.

This Is Why I Published My Textbook For Free

I didn’t make it possible alone. A lot of people helped me and encouraged me and, of course, support me. I really appreciate my supporters, Team Junicorns. If my tutorials are helpful or if you want to share the same dream, join the Team Junicorns and support me to keep going.

Contact / Follow Me

ig img


yt img


pt img


dc img
Join Korean Jun Community!

Go Team Junicorn!

Why Korean Jun?

Super Real Korean

Do you really use some words such as ‘a little boy’, ‘lions’ or ‘carrot’ everyday? So, I’m not going to teach those.

The Magical POWER

The ancient magical language from the far far land. Learn Korean and it’ll make you look 500% more charming.

No Fake, No False

Some wise man in the internet age said ‘Don’t believe the internet’. However, in Korean Jun, any tutorial is triple checked! Accurate than any textbooks.


Build Korean Brain

Instead of forcing you to memorize words. I’m going to make you understand how Korean grammar really works. Learn Korean grammar triple faster!

Super Duper High-Quality

This is not just an internet free learning material. I spent years for the Core Grammar course.