Please Teach Me Korean: Lesson 3 – I love you

We are starting our lesson around 2:10 when Lee Gun says:

I love you, Sera.

I know, I know….it is not our Snail couple! Sorry! But Sera never got to hear those words, and in fact it was MY who heard his propose. Just like his ring for Sera turned out to be actually MY’s, I believe the same for the propose….so just bear with me please.

사랑한다, 세라야.
sa-rang-han-da se-ra-yah
I love you, Sera.

as always, just use the romanization to help you and listen to LG’s sweet voice for actual pronunciation. If you listened to him enough (although I think there’s never ‘enough’ of listening to JH’s voice proposing), try saying it aloud several times.

Done! You learned how to say I love you!

……that will make my lesson a little too easy for me and kinda useless right?

So let’s break it down a little bit more.

Lesson point 1: 사랑한다 sa-rang-han-da

If you watched some Korean dramas, you would already recognize this word without me even trying to explain it. Love, love, love, that’s what Kdrama is all about. But…isn’t ‘I love you’ ‘sa-rang-hae’? or is it ‘sa-rang-hae-yo?’ But then what’s ‘sa-rang-han-da’? What’s the difference?

사랑(sa-rang) means love, and it’s a noun.
하다(ha-da) is a plain form of a verb, ‘to do’

So, 사랑하다 (sa-rang-ha-da) will literally mean, to do love->to love.

From this basis, various different forms stem out.

사랑해(sa-rang-hae) is used when you are speaking to someone. That’s why you would’ve heard this term the most if you watched Kdramas. You can omit who is speaking to whom in Korean, if it is super clear in context. If you stare at someone right in front of you and say 사랑해(sa-rang-hae), it’s pretty clear that it means “I” love “you”. So if you wanted to say it in full clear sentence it’d be

나는(na-neun) 너를(neo-reul) 사랑해(sa-rang-hae)
I                           you                      love
but instead you can just say
사랑해 (sa-rang-hae)

but if it’s not the case that you intend to tell that listener I love you, you can clearly say who loves who

건이는(gun-ie-neun) 미영이를(mi-young-ie-reul) 사랑해(sa-rang-hae)
Gunnie                          Mi Young                                  love
Gunnie loves MiYoung.

(‘neun’ suggests that word is the subject of the sentence, ‘reul’ suggests that word is object of the sentence. So here, it’s Gunnie who is the subject of the action of love, and he loves MY)

Then, what does 사랑해요 (sa-rang-hae-yo) means? It’s kind of easy to figure out. It means exactly the same thing with 사랑해(sa-rang-hae) except it’s a polite form.

사랑합니다(sa-rang-hab-ni-da) is also a polite form, and it is yet more formal than 사랑해요 (sa-rang-hae-yo). It is often used when you are writing, or in a narration, or in songs, etc.

사랑한다(sa-rang-han-da) is similar with 사랑해(sa-rang-hae), it’s a non-polite way of saying I love you. But it has a nuance that the speaker is on the same position or above than the listener.

So, Gun could say 사랑한다(sa-rang-han-da) to Sera but if Sera says 사랑한다 (sa-rang-han-da) to Gun, it would be awkward, because Gun is older than Sera. Even though Sera speaks in 반말(ban-mal, non-polite language) to Gun, she would have to say 사랑해(sa-rang-hae) instead of 사랑한다 (sa-rang-han-da).

Another example would be…I don’t speak in 존댓말 (jon-daet-mal, polite language) to my parents, I speak in 반말 (ban-mal). But, I still would never say 사랑한다 (sa-rang-han-da) to my parents, that will be rude. My parents can say 사랑한다(sa-rang-han-da) to me.

Among friends, you could say 사랑한다 (sa-rang-han-da) to each other. But I see 사랑해(sa-rang-hae) being used more often…

I feel like I’m confusing you guys lol. Again, I never ‘learned’ Korean language so don’t really know systematic way to explain things….just…’s just how I felt.


they all mean I love you 😛

Lesson point 2: 세라야 se-ra-yah

Hopefully this one is shorter and more intuitive.

Sera, is of course her name. Then, what’s yah? Kdrama people already heard it a lot, and I see some people using them often too.

That’s right, yah is added when you are calling someone’s name.

In English, to call Sera, you’ll just say “Sera.” But in Korean, Sera just means Sera, the name. You need to put a syllable after it to indicate you are addressing her. (btw, it is not entirely impossible to just call someone with name. You could just go like “Gumi!” to get my attention, even in Korean. But it would feel weird if you keep doing that every time you address me…it will feel like something just cut off at the end. Actually Sera always just said “Gun!” and that’s what bothered Korean audience the most LOL. They were saying it felt weirdly “American” )

But then, there’s yah and there’s ah. How do you know which one to pick?


Did you figure it out?

It depends on whether the name ends with consonant or vowel. If a name ends with a vowel, you add ‘yah’ and if a name ends with a consonant, you add ‘ah’. If you try reading them out loud, you’ll feel that’s more natural to your tongue (or do I just feel that way cuz I speak Korean..?) But really, Gun-yah MiYoung-yah is much harder than Gun-ah, MiYoung-ah, right?

BTW, you only address someone this way when that person is in the same or lower status than you are. When you are friends, or when the listener is younger than you. Because yah or ah only comes after name, and you only address someone by name alone when you speak 반말(ban-mal, nonpolite language) to them.

Ok so that’s about it, and I hope I didn’t bore you out.

Let’s just finish by saying one last time

사랑한다, 건아!
sa-rang-han-da, Gun-ah!

16 responses to “Please Teach Me Korean: Lesson 3 – I love you

  1. Thank you! Love these lessons. Keep it up:)

  2. aside from -yah or -ah, i hear JH addressed as hyuk-ie also?
    he also called mi-young as mi-young-ie?
    is there a rule for using -ie too?

    thanks again gumi-yah. 🙂

    • -ie is only added to names that end with consonant…and I can’t really explain when and why. It’s like…if you just say the name and nothing else, ‘miyoung’ ‘gun’ then it sounds kind of cut off because name ends with closed consonant sound, as opposed to ‘sera’ ends with open sound. So you put -ie at the end and becomes ‘miyoung-ie’ ‘gun-ie’, and u can say miyoung-ie did this, gun-ie did that…and it has effect of sounding more familiar and close, since if you are not close you wouldn’t be addressing name alone and -ie is only possible when you are addressing name alone….? But honestly I don’t know how to explain this, lol….

      • so, -ie and -ah are interchangeable for names ending in consonants?
        ..and when addressing someone formally, you add -ssi after their name?
        is this correct? 🙂

        • nonono!! -ie and -ah are not interchangeable. -ah and -yah are used to address people directly, like calling them and saying ‘hey i’m talking to you yes’. -ie is not necessarily the way to address. It’s just added at the end of consonant names, when you are only saying the name, not full name. (I’m coming up with explanation as I go, so plz understand even if I’m not super clear or accurate…) So it’s like, “I met Jang Hyuk today.” and “I met Hyuk-ie today.” For names ending in consonant it’d be “I met Kang Sera today” and “I met Sera today.” Does that make sense….?

          • hmm…so you mean if you’re going to call someone, you should end their name with -ah or -yah…but if you’re just talking about them, it’s okay to add -ie after their name if their name ends in a consonant. did i get it right this time? 🙂

  3. Gumi-yah, thank you so much for your lessons. Looking forward the next lesson and by the end of the your lessons, i hope i can watch kdrama without subtitle ;D

  4. Thank you, Gumiyah, for making your continous effort to teach us Korean. It’s seems like we should always speak in 존댓말 (jon-daet-mal) when we’re not sure the situation. 반말(ban-mal) is a risk for the beginners. 사랑합니다(sa-rang-hab-ni-da)!

  5. There is only one actor alive today that can say ”I love you” and make me not only care but actually melt, and that’s Jang Hyuk. Best korean lesson ever!

  6. Thanks Gumi, really appreciate the effort you took to write these lessons for us.

    Lol at the ending phrase, it’s not something we would say either right? (Like how Sera wouldn’t use saranghanda) :p

    • well, for characters u can always say whatever u want:PI mean, in real life I wouldn’t even be able to call him Gun-ah cuz he’s older! But people just call characters as if they are younger, they say Gun-ah, MiYoung-ah, cuz…that’s easier lol

  7. Very clear and helpful thanks!

  8. Gumiyah, you have solved my question before abt how Sera addresses Gun, bcos i noticed she mostly called him by Gun. So that means Sera was impolite. Later scenes show Gun sometimes addressing MY as just Mi Young but MY always address Gun as Gunissi. I suppose being polite would be the best way then. Thank you for the lesson, looking forward to the next.

  9. Your lessons are getting more and more interesting Gumiyah! 😋

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