Honorific Expression 경어

Korean has honorific expressions for older people or someone in a higher position than a speaker at a company. This part is very important to study because if you just be casual with them, you can be seen as a rude person.

The suffix -(으)시 is the most commonly used for the polite speech. It shows the speaker’s respect toward the person, who is the subject of the sentence.

–으시 is added after the stem that ends in a consonant, while –시 is added after the stem that ends in a vowel.

For example, 가다(to go) will become 가시다 since it ends in a vowel. For every stem, you must add it for the honorific expression just like the following example.

See this example with a verb 접다(to fold). The dictionary form 접다 will become 접으시다 (the stem ‘접’ + the suffix ‘-으시’ + -다) for the polite expression.

For polite speech, '접으시다.' will become '접으세요.' (접 + -으시 + -어요). For instance, when a professor says to students in a class to sit down, he can say 앉으세요(앉다 + 으세요). He is talking politely to his students. Also remember that –요 ending will become -어요 for the honorific expression.

Examples

사장님께서는 밤에 오세요. / The president comes at night. (NOT 와요.)

선생님께서 영어를 가르치세요. / The teacher teaches English. (NOT 가르쳐요.)

Many Koreans don’t use the honorific expression to their parents, and you don’t neccessarily have to do. However, you must use the respect language when the subject is the parents in the conversation with others.

Examples

엄마 어디 계셔? / Where is (your) mom?

엄마는 집에 계세요. / (My) mom is at home.

You never use the honorific expression for yourself, things, or animals, etc.

Examples

뭐 하세요? / What are you doing? (using the honorific expression)
텔레비전 봐요. / I’m watching TV. (NOT 텔레비전 보세요. You don't use it for yourself)

전화 하셨어요? / Did you phone me? (using the honorific expression)
아까 전화 했어요. / I phoned you a while ago. (NOT 아까 전화 하셨어요.)

진지 드셨어요?/ Did you have a meal (using the honorific expression)
지금 햄버거를 먹고 있어요. / I'm eating a hamburger now. (again, you have to use casual terms for yourself.)

Be careful! Some words change for the honorific expressions.

Plain form Honorific form
말하다. (to say; to talk) 말씀하시다.
먹다. (to eat) 잡수시다.
식사 (meal) 진지
화내다. (get angry) 역정내시다.
있다. (exist; be) 계시다.
아프다. (be painful) 편찮으시다.
배고프다. (be hungry) 시장하시다.
마시다. (to drink) 드시다.
주다. (to give) 드리다.
보다. (to see; to visit) 뵙다.
물어보다. (to ask) 여쭙다.
집 (house)
나이(age) 연세
병 (illness) 병환
생일 (birthday) 생신
이름 (name) 성함
Examples

말하고 있다. > 말씀하고 계시다. (He) is talking.

점심을 먹는다. > 점심을 잡수신다. (He) is eating lunch.

식사하세요. > 진지 잡수세요. Have a meal.

화내고 있다. > 역정내시고 계시다. (He) is getting angry.

다리가 아프다. > 다리가 편찮으시다. (His) legs hurt.

오늘이 생일이다. > 오늘이 생신이시다. (His) birthday is today.

나이가 몇 살이에요? > 연세가 몇 이세요? How old are you?

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