5 Basic Korean Endings : 요, ㅂ니다, 세요, (으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다, 네요.

안녕하세요. 토미입니다!

Today, I will teach you 5 basic Korean endings.

These are 요, ㅂ니다, 세요, (으)ㄹ 수 있어요/없어요, and 네요.

These endings are the most fundamental, so let’s go through them one by one.

그럼 시작할게요!

Before we dive in, I would like to explain Korean grammatical structure.

There are various sentence endings in Korean that express the most important information such as what makes past, present, or future tense, negative sentences, and even question forms.

Whereas it is completely opposite in English, which the most important information comes at the beginning.

For example, in English, you say “I don’t go.”
This “don’t” contains two essential facts. One is present tense, and the other one is a negative sentence.

On the other hand, if you translate this sentence to Korean, it is going to be 저는 가지 않아요.
This 지 않아요 has the same meaning as “don’t” in English.

As you can see, in English, important factors such as positive or negative, or future tense, or past tense come in the beginning of a sentence.

On the other hand, in Korean, it comes at the end.

Since you are learning Korean, it is significant for you to pay attention at the end of Korean sentences.

In that said, I will explain five basic Korean endings.

-요 (yo)

First, if a sentence ends with “요(yo)”, it is categorized as “존댓말(jondaetmal)” -polite/formal language.
So, when you want to be polite or someone is being polite, 요(yo) is used at the end of the sentence.

Korean people mainly use this 요 for polite conversation.

On the other hand, if you talk with your friends or close people, you can use “반말(banmal)” -casual language where you omit 요(yo).

For example,
저는 바빠요.
“I’m busy.”

Can you see 요 at the end?
It indicates this person is trying to be formal and polite.

If you omit 요 from this sentence, it is going to be 저는 바빠. “I am busy.”

As you can see, in English, it means the same as the previous sentence, but in Korean, since it does not have 요 at the end, it becomes a casual language, 반말, which you use to your close friends.

In addition, 요 has the meaning of “let’s.”
So if you want to invite someone to do something with you, you can use 요.

For example,

우리 같이 가요.
“Let’s go together.”

우리 같이 먹어요.
“Let’s eat together.”

Let’s move on to the next sentence ending ㅂ니다, 습니다.

-ᄇ니다/-습니다 (p-nida)

Similar to 요(yo), “ᄇ니다/습니다 (p-nida)” is put at the end of sentences to express politeness and formality.

Their meanings and roles are almost the same, but ᄇ니다 (p-nida) sounds a lot more more professional than “요(yo).”

Therefore, in professional settings, such as president’s keynote address in a forum, or news reports, it is appropriate to use ㅂ니다/습니다.

For example,

“I understand.”

You can also say, 알겠어요, but 알겠습니다 sounds more firm and professional.


Let’s see the third one. “-세요(seyo)” has 2 ways of usage: 1) greetings 2) command politely.

Firstly, by using 세요 at the end, you are showing the respect to others.

It can be found in many greeting phrases such as
안녕하세요 “Hello”
안녕히 가세요 “goodbye”
안녕히 주무세요 “good night”
맛있게 드세요 “please, enjoy your meal”

Another usage is a very polite way of command.

For example, 봐요 means “Look,” but if you say “보세요” it becomes “please take a look” and sounds much softer and formal.

I’m sure if you are studying in a classroom in Korea, teachers often say 책을 읽 으세요. “Please, read a book,” or 들어 보세요 “please, listen.”

You can see teachers are asking you to do something in a gentle way.

-(으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다

The fourth one is (으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다,” which means “can/cannot.”
You can express your ability to do something.

For example,

저는 콘서트에 갈 수 있어요.
“I can go to the concert.”

제 친구는 콘서트에 올 수 있어요.
“My friend can come to the concert.”

저는 김치를 먹을 수 없어요.
“I cannot eat Kimchi.”

저는 운전할 수 없어요.
“I cannot drive.”

If you add particle 도 “too, as well” in the middle of this grammar, it is going to be “(으)ㄹ 수도 있다/없다.”
It means “that is possible too” or “it might~”.

For example, we can change the previous sentences like this.

저는 콘서트에 안 갈 수도 있어요
“I might not be going to the concert.”

제 친구는 콘서트에 안 올 수도 있어요.
“My friend might not coming to the concert.”

It is interesting to see how these small changes can make the meanings different.


Lastly, -네요(neyo) has 2 usages: 1)agree with the other person, 2)express surprise or admiration.

First, you use 네요 to agree with someone’s opinion.

For example, your friend recommended a restaurant to you and you went there and agreed with friend’s opinion.

Then you can say “여기 요리 맛있네요” meaning “You are right. I agree that this restaurant has good dishes.”

Another usage is to express something that you notice or you are surprised.

For example, you observed your friend and noticed that your friend’s hairstyle has changed.

You can say
머리 예쁘네요.
“I find your hairstyle is pretty.”

You can also say,
“머리 예뻐요.
“Your hairstyle is pretty.”

But this can be a plain sentence and does not have the meaning of surprize.

To summarize, there are various sentence endings in Korean that express the most important information, and I introduced 5 different endings that are commonly used in Korean sentences.

For example, 요 is the polite expression mainly used in conversation ,ㅂ니다/습니다 is a professional way of saying, 세요 is a gentle way of command, (으)ㄹ 수 있다/없다 is an expression of possibility, and 네요 is to show your agreement or surprise.

By changing endings of the sentence, you will be able to convey your feelings and attitude to the other person more accurately.

OK. have fun in Korean!

그럼 오늘도 행복 가득, 웃음 가득한 하루 되세요! 한국어 화이팅, 화이팅, 화이팅!!