Polite Question Endings(나요/어요/아요/지요/습니까) – Korean Grammar vs Grammar #3

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With Explanation

We learned 반말 version of asking verb endings yesterday. Today, we are going to learn 존댓말 version of endings, 나요, 어요, 아요, 지요, 습니까. Each of them has its related ending in 반말. However, -나 and -냐 have no 존댓말 version as they are used between close friends or to someone who are younger than you.


Those 3 came from -니 and -어/아. 니 became 나요 and 아/어 became 아요 and 어요. They are used when you are curious for something but you are not that close with the listener or listener is many years older than you.

식사는 하셨나요?
Did you have meal?

언제 오셨어요?
When did you come?


Before we move on to 지요, I will tell you about two verbs of Korean, 바뀌다(to be changed) and 사귀다(to date someone). When 어 is attached to those verbs, they should be like 바뀌어요 and 사귀어요. They are correct grammatically. However, in conversation, many Koreans just speak them as 바껴요 and 사겨요 because they are short and convenient. Sometimes you can find something written like them in Internet blogs, but they are wrong.

철수랑 영희랑 사귀어요?
Do 철수 and 영희 date?

내일 자리 바뀌어요?
The seats are changed tomorrow?


지요 came from 지. Just 요 is added next to 지. When you ask something to someone you are not familiar with or older than you and you are sure that the listener knows the answer, then use 지요. In conversations, the shorter form, 죠, is more frequently used.

어제 왔었죠?
You came yesterday. Right?

몇 달 전에 TV 고쳐 주신 분이시죠?
You repaired my TV a few months ago. Didn't you?


In many verbs, just adding 요 clears the problem. However, the verb, 이다, has an irregular form of question ending. 이다 should be changed to 인가요 if you want to add 요 behind it. When 것 is in front of 인가요 like 것인가요, it is usually said like 건가요 as it is shorter.

이것은 무엇인가요?
What is this?

사람의 눈으로 볼 수 있는 것인가요?
Can this be seen with our eyes?


When you want to be really polite, then use 습니까 rather than other -요-ended verbs. It is used between boss and employee and it is used a lot in army. Actually, -요 is restricted in army.

이것이 무엇인지 알 수 있겠습니까?
Would you tell me what it is?

언제 오셨습니까?
Could you tell me when you came?

While 습니까 is used when you are curious for something, then what should we use when you are sure for something, but you want to be extremely polite. 맞습니까(맞으십니까) or 아닙니까(않으셨습니까) is used at the end of the sentence.

몇 달 전에 컴퓨터를 고쳐 주지 않으셨습니까?
Didn't you repair my computer a few months ago?

어제 오신 분 맞으십니까?
Did you come yesterday?