How to Speak You in Polite Ways – Korean Grammar vs. Grammar #29

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

I told you about when to and not to use You in 반말. Let's see this in 존댓말.

Like 반말, in most cases, it is OK not to use You in most cases. However, there are some cases that you should add you in 존댓말.

1. Use position or job.

In some Korean books, it says that you should use "당신" when you want to be polite to say you and there are some examples like this:

선생님, 당신은 무엇을 좋아하는지 말씀해 주세요.
Sir, please tell me what you like.

Actually, it is a little awkward way of saying you in Korean. Many Koreans don't use 당신 to call you politely. Furthermore, it can be sometimes rude if you use 당신 to someone you are not familiar with. So, it is just OK to say without 당신 in the example above like this:

선생님, 무엇을 좋아하는지 말씀해 주세요.

When you want to specify you, Koreans usually use the position, job or rank name.

교수님께서는 어떤 연구를 하십니까?
Professor, which field do you research?

If we translate that sentence word by word, it becomes like "which field does the professor research?" It is really awkward to say if the professor is in front of you. However, it is common in Korean. Other examples are like these:

김 부장님은 무엇을 드실 생각이십니까?
Mr. Kim, what are you going to eat?

선생님께서 써 주신 편지 잘 받았습니다.
I have received the letter you have written to me.

The word, 선생님 is used when you have no word to call you. It doesn't mean to call teacher, but it is a polite way of saying you.

박민수 씨께서 만들어 주신 책상 잘 쓰고 있습니다.
I am using well the desk you made for me.

Sometimes, you know the people's name, but he doesn't have any appropriate position to call, then the name + 씨 is used like the example I said just before.

This way of speaking is sometimes used to call someone younger than you in 반말 like this:

철수는 내일 뭐 할 생각이니?
What are you going to do tomorrow?

철수 is in front of you, but you didn't say 너 but you just said 철수. It is a bit more polite way to speak to young people like teachers to students.

2. Place words.

If position words are awkward in English, there is something much weirder. Sometimes, Koreans use place words to say you in polite way.

Let's think about this situation. You got the phone call and the woman over the phone is asking for 유민. Unfortunately, 유민 is not in the office for a moment. Then, you might ask "May I ask your name, please?" The word, you is here again in your name. Then, what is "May I ask your name, please?" in Korean? You can simply say "성함을 여쭤봐도 될까요?" Note that there is no 너 or 당신 here. However, some people say like "어디에서 전화 왔다고 전해 드릴까요?"

The word by word translation of this phrase is "where should I tell him that the phone was called?" It is really bizarre way of speaking, but it is used. The answers are also interesting. Some people say their name clearly like "와이즈이닛 허국현 대표가 전화했다고 전해주세요." He said his name clearly, but some people say like "세산 전자에서 전화했다고 전해주세요." There is no name but the place.

When you are distributing works between departments, some words like 이쪽 and 그쪽 are used.

이쪽에서 피자를 준비할테니, 그쪽에서 치킨을 준비해 주세요.
We will prepare pizza, please prepare chicken.

이쪽에서 못한 일을 그쪽에서 마무리 지어 주셨군요. 감사합니다.
You guys finished the works that we couldn't do. Thank you.

We learned how to use you in polite ways. To most of you, it might sound really awkward or strange, but you is used like that in Korean.

Tomorrow, we will finish Grammar vs. Grammar series with the you words like 당신, 그대, 자네, 너. Thank you for listening and stay tuned!