In this lesson, we will take a look at how to say “cute” in Korean. Imagine you’re in Seoul, chilling with your friends and suddenly the cutest dog you’ve ever seen comes toddling down the street. Without even knowing it, the words “so cute!” come out of your mouth. You notice how your friends, who happen to be Koreans, burst out in the same euphoria, but you can’t understand what they are saying. Thankfully, after this lesson, you’ll be on the same frequencies as your K-buddies. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase; here’s the word you want to know:
In Hangul: 귀엽다
gwiyeopda (귀엽다) is the dictionary form. It literally translates to “To be cute.” What does that mean? Well, you need to conjugate it in order to use it (except if you’re writing a book or a diary, where adjectives are used in their dictionary forms, and you CAN actually use this form in spoken Korean as well, but don’t mind that for now). You can use this when referring to babies, dogs, cats, kids and anything cute you can imagine. For adults, however, you should check out these lessons on how to say pretty, beautiful, and handsome in Korean. Anyway, you probably want to know how to use this word right? Let’s get right to it!
The Casual/Informal Way to Say Cute in Korean
In Hangul: 귀여워
gwiyeowo (귀여워) translates to “It’s cute”, “[Subject] is cute” and so on. In Korean, you can omit the subject (I, you, it, the girl, etc.) of the sentence as long as it is clear who or what it is. Thus, even though it is only three syllables and only one word, this is a complete expression. Moreover, it is the casual/informal expression, and you should use the casual/informal form when talking with:
people who are clearly younger than you, like kids
your parents (traditionally you would not but the newer generation of Koreans usually do)
The Polite Way to Say Cute in Korean
In Hangul: 귀여워요
When talking to people older than you, teachers, parents-in-law, bosses, seniors, or people of “higher status” than you, you should add the suffix yo (요) to the casual / informal form. This makes it more polite, and proper to use with people you are not super close with, or people you have to “show respect” to. In Korean language, age and status are very important, so if you want to come across as polite and well-mannered, you should use this form when you are unsure. More specifically, use this form when talking to:
people who are not your close friends
The Formal Way to Say Cute in Korean
In Hangul: 귀엽습니다
While it is unlikely that you would use the word “cute” in a formal setting, it’s still good to know right? To make it more formal, we take the dictionary form and add seumnida (습니다). This form is what you are likely to hear in news and presentations. Language schools will teach you this form the first thing they do. You can use it with your friends if this is all you’ve been taught in school so far, but will sound a bit awkward and unnatural (You should still use it however!! Practice speaking as much as you can!!).
“Cute” when used to modify a noun
The forms we have looked at so far have been complete sentences, but what if we want to use this word to modify a noun? For example, so far we have learned how to say “[noun] is cute”. But what if we wanted to say “a cute [noun]”? In that case, you would once again have to conjugate the dictionary form of the word, and in this case, you would say gwiyeoun (귀여운) [noun].
= So cute!
= a cute dog
=It’s cute right?
This concludes this article on how to say “cute” in Korean. . For more lessons like this one, please check out our Everyday Korean Archive! Please like or share if you found this useful! If you have any questions or anything else you want to let us know, please leave a comment and we will do our best to help you out!
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