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Beginner 2 > Lesson 6

Lesson 6. Verb’s honorific form #1 (-세요 ending, -시다 verb)

In Korean, we have Formal and Informal ways of speaking. 

반말 = Informal language & 존댓말 = Formal language. 

존댓말 is used when speaking to someone who you need to show respect towards. As learnt earlier, adding -요 ending makes the sentence formal. However, in certain situations a more polite form of speech can be used. 

This is the ‘-세요’ form. 


PART I- ‘-(으)세요’ ending: 

This form is attached to the end of a verb or adjective in Korean to show respect or courtesy towards the subject of the sentence.  

Ex. 제프씨는 한국어 잘해요?  = Is Mr. Jeff good at Korean?

     제프씨는 한국어 잘하세요?  = Is Mr. Jeff good at Korean? (politer towards Mr. Jeff) 

Ex. 제프씨의 어머니는 한국어 잘하세요?  = Is Mr. Jeff’s mother good at Korean? 


Attaching ‘-(으)세요’ to a verb (or adjective): 

If the Verb Stem does not end in 받침, simply add ‘-세요 

Ex. 공부하다 (to study) 공부하세요.  

If the Verb Stem does end in 받침, add ‘-으세요 

Ex. 앉다 (to sit) 으세요.  

For 이다 (to be) verb: –세요/이세요. 

Ex. 지수씨는 선생님이세요? = Is Ms. Jisoo a teacher?  (ending in 받침) 

   아니요, 의사세요 = No, (she is) a doctor.  (not ending in 받침) 

‘-(으)세요’ ending can be used when the Subject of the sentence is either: 

You (2nd person) 

A 3rd person. 

*This ending can never be used when the subject is ‘I’ i.e. when the speaker is talking about him/herself! 



When the Subject is “You”- 

In such cases, the subject in a sentence can be omitted and assumed to be You (the other person). 

Ex. 예쁘세요 = You are pretty.  (예쁘다 = to be pretty) 

Ex. 커피 한 잔 주세요 = Please give me a cup of coffee.  (주다 = to give) 

It is more natural to omit the pronoun for ‘You’. 

When the Subject is a 3rd person- 

In such cases, the subject in a sentence is not to be omitted. It is exclusively mentioned. 

Ex. 저희* 어머니는 바쁘세요 = My mother is busy.  (*저희 is a politer form of 저의 meaning my; our) 

Ex. 지수 선배는 똑똑하세요 = My senior Jisoo is smart. 


Using ‘-(으)세요’  in an Imperative mood (for requests, suggestions, commands): 


Close your eyes = 눈을 감으세요. 

Do it quickly! = 빨리 하세요! 

Give me some water = 물 좀 주세요. 


Certain verbs have their own separate Honorific Forms: 


Base Verb 

Honorific Base Verb form 

먹다 (to eat) 


아프다 (to sleep) 


자다 (to sleep) 


말하다 (to speak; talk) 


있다 (to be; have) 




What we’ll learn in PART II: ‘-시다’ form: 

‘-세요 is the Present form of the base verb ‘-시다 


이다 (to have; exist) 이시다. 

오다 (to come) 오시다. 

가다 (to go) → 가시다. 

웃다 (to laugh) 웃으시다. 

만들다 (to make) 만드시다*. 

울다 (to cry) 우시다*. 

* 만들다, 울다 are Irregular verbs! When a verb contains ‘받침, it is deleted and then 시다 is added.