In this lesson, we will take a look at perhaps the most widespread Korean phrase there is. But if you’re not familiar with it yet, don’t feel too bad because in just a few minutes, you’ll know more than just the word itself. So let’s get started, shall we?
The standard and most common way of saying “I love you” in Korean is saranghae (in Hangul: 사랑해) but there are circumstances where you need to consider different varieties of this. But first, let’s look at when you would use this first one:
1. saranghae (in Hangul: 사랑해)
The Close and Informal Way
You’re pretty close to your lover, right? Good, then tell this to him or her and watch as their eyes start to sparkle (or perhaps cheeks turn red)! To take it one step further, you can say:
jagiya saranghae (자기야 사랑해)
= Darling, I love you. (For the perfect delivery, I suggest you watch some k-drama and learn from the pros!)
Just like in English, you should of course use this only when you really mean it and not too soon! But hey, if you get a weird reaction back, you can always just play the foreigner card and claim that you misunderstood what it really meant.
2. saranghaeyo (in Hangul: 사랑해요)
The More Formal/Polite Way
If you want to say “I love you” to your parents, you add “yo” (요) to the expression we learned above and say “saranghaeyo” (사랑해요). But unless you have Korean parents or other relatives who speak the language, it’s unlikely that you will find yourself using this very often.
…right? Well, you are supposed to use this with people who are older than you. For example, if you are taking language classes, you can write “선생님 사랑해요” on the blackboard and your teacher will for sure be happy the rest of the day. But yeah, in most cases you want to use “saranghae” (사랑해) over this.
2. saranghamnida (in Hangul: 사랑합니다)
The Most Formal Way
Because “saranghamnida” (사랑합니다) has a very formal feel to it, this form is not very often used in everyday conversation. You might occasionally stumble upon this in lyrics or poems or in places or situations that require formal Korean. Just take note of the difference in nuance between this and the other two forms and try not to worry too much about it for now.
Other ways to tell someone you like them
nan nega joh-a – I like you
in Hangul: 난 네가 좋아
neobakke eobseo – You’re the only one
in Hangul: 너밖에 없어
Related words and expressions
(Please note that all of these are written in their most informal form)
narang gyeolhon hae jullae ? – Do you want to marry me?
dangsin – darling (used beween older people. Can also mean “you.”)
in Hangul: 당신
ppoppo – kiss
in Hangul: 뽀뽀
aein – lover
in Hangul: 애인
If you already know a little Korean, you might notice that the words “I” and “you” are nowhere to be found. How come? In Korean both the subject (I) and object (you) of a clause can, and should, be omitted if possible. If you’re looking a person in the eyes and tell them “saranghae” (사랑해), it’s quite obvious who loves whom, right? And even if you just write someone a text message, it’s obvious still obvious!
Please like or share if you found this lesson useful! And if you have any questions or comments, make sure to leave them in the comments below and we will do our best to help you out!
By: Kimchi Cloud
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