[Expressions] Formal? polite? honorific?

When you learn Korean, you will hear terms like formal, polite and honorific. I want to explain this to you in this post.

Formality is about situation. You use formal endings like -습니다, -는다 when you have business meetings, presentations or ceremonies. For normal situations(non-formal) like talking to family, friends or people who you know well, you can use -아/어/여요 or -아/어/여.

Politeness is about listener. When you talk to someone who is older that you or higher position, you should use polite endings like 습니다 or 아/어/여요. When you talk to someone who is the same age as you or younger, you will use -는다 or -아/어/여.

formal non-formal
polite -(스)ㅂ니다 아/어/여요
non-polite -는다 아/어/여

For example,

비가 왔습니다. (formal, polite : news anchor)
비가 왔어요. (non-formal, polite : a kid to a mom)
비가 온다. (formal, non-polite : writing a diary, news paper, books)
비가 와. (non-formal, non-polite : between friends or to young people)

Honorific forms  are used when a subject is a person who is older generation or higher position while politeness is about listener. You will use -(으)시 after verbs and adjectives. For example,

할머니가 오어요.
선생님이 부르요.

You can study honorific forms by clicking here. 

One more thing, 저 and 나 both are ‘I’ or ‘me’. 저 is humble way which is polite, 나 is non-polite. So if you use 저(I,me), you’d better use -(스)ㅂ니다 or -아/어/여요. On the other hand, if you use 나, you can use -ㄴ/는다 or 아/어/여.

 

[Grammar] -습니다 Formal verb ending

-습니다 Formal verb ending

-(스)ㅂ니다 is a formal verb/adjective ending.  We’ve learned the friendly/polite verb ending -아/어/여요 in the previous post, whereas -(스)ㅂ니다 is a formal/polite verb ending.  We will hear and see this verb ending a lot on TV news or on newspaper.

The present tense is -(스)ㅂ니다.  The form of (스)ㅂ니다 depends on whether a verb/adjective stem ends with a consonant or a vowel.

Verb/adjective(ends with a consonant) + 습니다
Verb/adjective(ends with a vowel) + ㅂ니다

For example,

Verb/adjective(ends with a consonant)+습니다
(다)+습니다
먹습니다
(다)+습니다
읽습니다
(다) +습니다
좋습니다
Verb/adjective(ends with a vowel)+ㅂ니다
(다) + ㅂ니다
갑니다
(다) + ㅂ니다
옵니다
(다)+ㅂ니다
예쁩니다

You can also listen to the pronunciation here.

 

The past tense of -습니다 is -았/었/였습니다.  The form of -았/었/였습니다 depends on a vowel of a verb/adjective’s stem.

Verb/adjective
-았/었/였습니다
Output
아/오 vowel
가(다)
가+았습니다
갔습니다
오(다)
오+았습니다
왔습니다
좋(다)
좋+았습니다
좋았습니다
other than
아/오 vowel
만들(다)
만들+었습니다
만들었습니다
먹(다)
먹+었습니다
먹었습니다
흐리(다)
흐리+었습니다
흐렸습니다
하(다)
공부하(다)
공부하+였습니다 (하+여=해)
공부했습니다
일하(다)
일하+였습니다(하+여=해)
일했습니다
피곤하(다)
피곤하+였습니다(하+여=해)
피곤했습니다

You can also listen to the pronunciation here.

 

The future tense of -습니다 is -(으)ㄹ 겁니다.  The form of -ㄹ 겁니다 depends on whether a verb/adjective stem ends with a consonant or a vowel.

Verb/adjective(ends with a consonant)+을 겁니다
(다)+을 겁니다
먹을 겁니다
(다)+을 겁니다
읽을 겁니다
(다) +을 겁니다
좋을 겁니다
Verb/adjective(ends with a vowel)+ㄹ 겁니다
(다) + ㄹ 겁니다
갈 겁니다
(다) +ㄹ 겁니다
마실 겁니다
공부(다)+ㄹ 겁니다
공부할 겁니다

You can also listen to the pronunciation here.

 

 

* -입니다 is the formal version of -이에요/예요.

Noun+입니다

학생입니다
선생님입니다
동생입니다
아버지입니다
의사입니다
컴퓨터입니다

 

You can also listen to the pronunciation here.