When to and not to use You in 반말 – Korean Grammar vs. Grammar #28

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

Some grammars are still hard even after many years. The word, you, is one of them for Koreans. As Koreans don't use you a lot, it is a bit awkward for Koreans to use it. Particularly, it is somewhat daunting for Koreans to use you to someone older than them. If you ask me one more about them, I will choose yes and no when you ask in negative sense. As we answer yes and no unconsciously, it is really easy to answer them other way around.

Today's topic is when to and not to use You. I tried to cover everything in this episode, but there can be something missing. If you have any question, please ask at the comment in my blog.

In Korean, the word, you, is not frequently used. It is easier to find sentences without you than with it. Pronouns like you, he, she are not used in Korean when it is obvious. When we are using you, that person is usually in front of or near us. It is usually clear who we are calling you. That's why it is hard to find you in Korean. It is almost always too easy to find who the word, you, is calling.

Because of this, it is OK to say something without you in almost every sentence. However, there are some cases that you should add you. We will see them.

1. When you want to emphasize you.

If you want to specify you, then you should use it. In English, we don't usually use you in command or order like "wash it" or "do it." However, if we add you there like "you wash it", "you do it," then you can feel some anger or urgency. It's similar in Korean, too.

지금 뭐하니? / 너 지금 뭐하니?
What are you doing now?

If you say "지금 뭐하니?", then you are asking because you are curious. However, if you add 너 there, you are trying to say that you are doing something wrong. If you want to show more anger, you can change 니 to 냐 like "너 지금 뭐하냐?" It sounds stronger.

지금 갈 거야? / 너 지금 갈 거야?
Are you leaving now?

If you add 너 here, the meaning becomes more stronger. You are trying to say you shouldn't go now.

갈 거야? / 네가 갈 거야?
Will you go?

먹었어? / 네가 먹었어?
Did you eat it?

In above cases, you don’t have to use you. However, if you add you there, then you are trying to check whether you are really going to do that or you really did it.

2. In a clause in the middle

Sometimes more than 2 sentences are combined to create a long sentence. In these cases, the word, you, is usually added.

이거 네가 만든 거야?
Did you make it?

네가 그렇게 할 줄은 몰랐어.
I didn't know that you did it.

네가 쓴 글 잘 봤어.
I've read what you have written.

I said usually because it is sometimes deleted like "이거 만든 거야?" from our first example. However, it is a bit awkward to delete 네가 in other two examples. It is hard to find rule here.

3. When you want to show some contrast.

When you compare what you did with what others did, then you should use you. It is the almost only case that you cannot delete you in the sentence.

네가 만들어 준 과자가 더 맛있는데?
The cookie you made are much more delicious.

내 점수랑 네 점수랑 비교해 보자.
Let's compare your score with mine.

We learned how to and not to say you in 반말. Tomorrow, we will learn how to say you in 존댓말. Stay tuned!