Korean Question Words

In Korean, there are several common question words that are used to ask questions. The most common ones:

  1. 뭐 (mwo): What
    Example sentence: 뭐 먹을래? (mwo meogeullaeyo?) – What do you want to eat?
  2. 누구 (nugu): Who
    Example sentence: 누구세요? (nuguseyo?) – Who is it?
  3. 어디 (eodi): Where
    Example sentence: 어디에 가요? (eodie gayo?) – Where are you going?
  4. 언제 (eonje): When
    Example sentence: 언제 돌아와요? (eonje dorawayo?) – When will you come back?
  5. 어떻게 (eotteohke): How
    Example sentence: 어떻게 해요? (eotteohke haeyo?) – How do you do it?
  6. 왜 (wae): Why
    Example sentence: 왜 그래요? (wae geuraeyo?) – Why are you like that?
  7. 얼마나 (eolmana): How much/How many
    Example sentence: 얼마나 오래 걸려요? (eolmana olae geollyeoyo?) – How long does it take?
  8. 무엇 (mueot): What (thing)
    Example sentence: 무엇이든 물어보세요. (mueosideun mureoboseyo.) – Ask me anything.

In Korean, the concept of “which” is often expressed using the word “어느” (eoneu), which means “any” or “some” and can be used to indicate a choice between options. Here are some examples:

  1. 어느 것 (eoneu geot): Which one/which thing
    Example sentence: 어느 것이 좋아요? (eoneu geosi johayo?) – Which one do you like?
  2. 어느 쪽 (eoneu jjok): Which side/direction
    Example sentence: 어느 쪽으로 가야 해요? (eoneu jjogeuro gaya haeyo?) – Which way should I go?
  3. 어느 날 (eoneu nal): Which day
    Example sentence: 어느 날에 만날까요? (eoneu nale mannalkkayo?) – Which day should we meet?

Note that in Korean, the specific word “which” is not used as frequently as in English, and “어느” (eoneu) is often used to convey the meaning of “which” in a more general or ambiguous sense.

When asking questions in Korean, there are a few things to be mindful of:

  1. Appropriate politeness level: Korean language has different levels of politeness, and the politeness level used in a question should be appropriate for the situation and the person you are addressing. For instance, using polite forms such as “-요” or “-세요” endings when addressing someone older, higher in rank, or in a formal setting, and using casual forms when speaking to someone of the same age,
  2. Sentence structure: Korean sentence structure can be different from English, so be mindful of the word order when forming questions. In Korean, the basic sentence structure for questions is often Subject + Object + Verb, and question words usually come at the beginning of the sentence. For example: “뭐 먹었어?” (mwo meogeosseo?) – “What did you eat?”
  3. Intonation: In Korean, intonation plays a crucial role in conveying meaning. Be aware of the rising intonation at the end of questions, which signals that it is a question. Practice the correct intonation patterns to sound natural when asking questions in Korean.
  4. Politeness and cultural norms: Korean culture places a strong emphasis on politeness and respect. When asking questions, it’s important to be mindful of cultural norms and use appropriate polite language and manners, especially when addressing someone older or in a formal setting.

By being mindful of these aspects, you can effectively ask questions in Korean and communicate more accurately in various social situations. It’s always helpful to practice and seek feedback from native speakers to improve your question asking skills in Korean.