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Beginner 1 > Lesson 22

Lesson 22. Question Words 1 (What, Who, Where, When, How, and Why)

In the previous lesson, we’ve learned how to ask yes/no questions in Korean using different endings. 

In this lesson, we’re going to learn specific Korean question words.


무엇 (what) = 뭐 (뭐 is more commonly used than 무엇, especially in spoken form)

뭐해(요)? – What are you doing?

뭐 공부해(요)? – What are you studying?

뭐야?/뭐예요? – What is it?

이름이 뭐야?/이름이 뭐예요? – What is your name?

달고나 커피가 뭐야?/ 달고나 커피가 뭐예요? – What is Dalgona coffee?

뭐 먹을래(요)? – What will you eat? (or, What do you want to eat?)


누구 (who)

누구야?/누구세요? – Who are you?

누구 좋아해(요)? – Whom do you like?

누구랑 공부해(요)? – Whom are you studying with?

누가 했어(요)? – Who did that?

*when 누구 combines with the subject marker 가, it becomes 누가.


어디 (where)

어디야?/어디예요?/어디인가요? – Where are you? (or, Where is it?)


은행이 어디야?/은행이 어디예요?/은행이 어디인가요? – Where is the bank?


A: 어디 살아?/어디 살아요? – Where do you live?

B: 저는 서울(에) 살아요. (or, 저는 서울에서 살아요). – I live in Seoul.


A: 어디 가(요)? – Where are you going?

B: 저는 학교(에) 가(요). – I’m going to school.


A: 어디에서 일해(요)? – Where do you work at?

B: 회사에서 일해(요)? – I work at a company.


A: 어디에서 샀니? – Where did you buy it?

B: 문구점에서 샀어요. – I bought it at a stationery store.


A:  공부해(요)? – Where do you study at?

B: 도서관에서 공부해요? – I study at the library.


언제 (when)

언제야?/언제예요? – When is it?

시험이 언제야?/시험이 언제예요? – When is the exam?

생일이 언제야?/생일이 언제예요? – When is your birthday?

언제 가(요)? – Where are you going?

언제 왔어요? – When did you come?

한국어 언제부터* 배웠어(요)? – When did you start learning Korean?

*부터 is a place particle and can be used to mean “from”.

언제까지 공부할 거야?/ 언제까지 공부할 거예요? – Till when are you going study?


어떻게 (how)

어떻게(요)? – How?

어떻게 지내(요)? – How are you doing?

어떻게 해(요)? – How do you do it?

지갑이 없어졌어. 어떡해*? – My wallet is gone. What should I do?

늦었어요. 어떡해*요? – I’m late. What should I do?

*어떡해 can be used to mean “What should I do?” and sounds exactly like “어떻게”.


The difference between “어떻게” and “어떡해” can be defined by the context, for example:

A: 나 차 고쳤어! – I fixed the car!

B: 어떻게? – How?


A: 내 강아지가 도망갔어! – My puppy went away!

B: 어떡해! – What should we do?


한국어 공부 어떻게 했어(요)? – How did you study Korean?

어떻게 알았어(요)? – How did you know?

어때(요)? – How is it?



왜(요)? – Why?

왜 안 왔어(요)? – Why didn’t you come?

왜 안 했어(요)? – Why didn’t you do it?

왜 웃어(요)? – Why are you laughing?

왜 피곤해(요)? – Why are you tired?

왜 전화했어(요)? – Why did you call?

제프(씨)는 왜 울어(요)? – Why is Jeff crying?



Let’s look at some more examples before we finish:

뭐 먹어요? – What are you eating?

누가 전화했어요? – Who called?

한국어 어디에서 배웠어요? – Where did you learn Korean?

제프 씨는 어디에 살아요? – Where does Mr. Jeff live?

저녁 언제 먹었어요? – When did you have dinner?

엄마 언제 와요? – When is mom coming? (or, Mom, when will you come?)

서울(에) 어떻게 가요? – How to go to Seoul?

달고나 커피 어때? – How’s Dalgona coffee?

왜 늦었어요*? – Why are you late?

*the past form of 늦다 is used when you say that someone is late.