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10 Shortened Korean Words That Every Learner Should Know

In South Korea, the use of shortened words is incredibly common. In fact, many full-length words are rarely used at all, instead being replaced by shorter versions. While this may seem strange to those unfamiliar with it, the use of shortened words can make communication much more efficient and concise.

If you’re interacting with Koreans in any way, it’s important to find shortened Korean words you can use to communicate. So, let’s discover some common shortened words in Korean vocabulary!

INDEX

The Most Commonly Used Shortened Korean Words

  1. 안녕 (annyeong)
  2. 고마워 (gomawo)
  3. 야 (ya)
  4. 어머 (eomeo)
  5. 임마 (imma)
  6. 와 (wa)
  7. 가자 (gaja)
  8. 뭐 (mwo)
  9. 좀 (jom)
  10. 일 (il)

How to Learn Commonly Shortened Korean Words

The Most Commonly Used Shortened Korean Words

In Korean lessons, there are a lot of words that are commonly shortened in everyday conversation. This is because Koreans often speak informally and want to save time by saying things more concisely. As a result, many words become shortened versions of their original form. 

Here are the 10 most commonly used shortened Korean phrases. Learning these will help you understand spoken Korean better and also enable you to use them in your own conversations!

1. 안녕 (annyeong)

This is the most common word in Korean. It’s a formal way of saying “hello” or “goodbye.” Informally, you can say 안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo), which means “goodbye.” However, when talking to your Korean friends, you can say 안녕 (annyeong).

2. 고마워 (gomawo)

It’s a way of saying “thank you.” You would use this when you are thanking your elders or someone in a higher position than you. The informal way of saying “thank you” would be 고맙습니다 (gomapseumnida). However, when you talk to your friends, you can say 고마워 (gomawo).

3. 야 (ya)

This Korean word is a shortened form of 야그러요 (yaguereoyo), which means “Hey!” or “What?” It’s used to show surprise. For example, you could say, “야! 놀러 갈까?” (ya! nolleo galgga?), which means “Hey! Shall we go out?”

4. 어머 (eomeo)

This is a very common word used in Korean. It expresses surprise, joy, pain, excitement, or other emotions.

For example, you might say 어머 신기하다! (eomeo shin-gi-ha-da!) when you see something amazing, or 어머 아파요! (eomeo a-pa-yo!) when you’re in pain.

5. 임마 (imma)

In Korean culture, this word emphasizes the speaker’s disbelief or disagreement with someone else. For example, if anyone tells you that she got a 100 on her test, you might say 임마 100점 맞아. (imma hyeon-jeom ma-ja?) to express your disbelief.

6. 와 (wa)

This Korean slang word is often used at the beginning of a sentence for emphasis. For example, if you see a really cute dog, you might say 와 귀여워! (wa gwi-yeo-wo!) to express your surprise or excitement.

7. 가자 (gaja)

It’s one of the most common Korean verbs, which means “let’s go.” You would use this word when you want to go somewhere with someone or try to get someone to come with you somewhere. For example, if you’re at a friend’s house and you want to go home, you could say 가자! (Gaja!).

8. 뭐 (mwo)

This word is a contraction of 뭐하니 (mwohani), which means “what are you doing?” You would use this word when you ask someone what they are up to. For example, if you see your friend studying for a test and you want to know more, you could say 뭐하니. (Mwohani?).

9. 좀 (jom)

This word is used at the end of different sentences as a polite way of asking for something. It can be shortened from 좀 주세요 (jom ju-se-yo), which means “Please give me…” For example, if you want somebody to pass you the salt, you could say 소금 좀 주세요 (sogeum jom ju se yo), which means “Can you please pass me the salt?”. 

10. 일 (il)

This shortened word refers to the thing or activity that someone does for a living. For example, if you ask someone what their 일 (il) is, they will likely tell you their job title.

Many other shortenings exist, but these are some of the most commonly used ones you will come across in conversation. The next time you talk with somebody, see if you can figure out the full word.

How to Learn Commonly Shortened Korean Words

As you learn Korean, you’ll quickly realize that many words can be shortened. 

Some tips to learn these common Korean words quickly include:

  • Know the basic grammar rules. In Korean, many abbreviated words are created by taking the first syllable of each word in a phrase and combining them.
  • Pay attention to context clues. Often, the meaning of a shortened word can be inferred from the context in which it is used.
  • Use a dictionary. These dictionaries usually have example Korean sentences for each word or phrase so that you can see it in context and understand how it’s used.
  • Look for patterns. When you encounter shortened words, take a moment to look at the longer word it’s derived from and see if you can spot any patterns.
  • Try using them in conversation. If you feel confident about these words when speaking Korean, try using them the next time.

Conclusion

That’s it for our list! These words from the Korean language will come in handy when you want to sound more natural and native-like. Keep practicing, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they become your regular vocabulary.

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