Korean words you need to know to build your Korean vocabulary

Common Korean Words

The beauty of the Korean language is widely recognized and lies in its unique words and expressions. As a language rich in history and culture, Korean offers a poetic and nuanced way of expression that captivates both speakers and learners alike.
Although the process may not seem complex, dictionaries have several criteria when deciding which words to add, reject, monitor or remove. To put it simply, if a new Korean word is used by a lot of people for a long period of time, it starts to be considered for inclusion in the dictionary. Then, the dictionary editors or lexicographers will assess this word and finally add it to the dictionary if they see fit.
The encouraging aspect of learning Korean is the efficiency of understanding the language with a relatively small vocabulary. Knowing just around 100 essential words can significantly enhance your comprehension of Korean texts, allowing you to understand a substantial portion of the words in an article or book. By expanding your vocabulary to the most common 1000 words, your understanding of Korean texts could increase to about 75%.

Korean flag
Common Korean words

When you know the most common 100 Korean words

You can understand 50% of the texts written in Korean

Top 10 cool and common Korean words pronounced by fluent Korean speakers

  1. 1. 안녕하세요 = Hello

    Let's naturally start with "안녕하세요" which means "Hello" in Korean. This is one of the most known words in Korean and a great way to start a conversation with someone from the South Korea. Click play below to listen to the actual pronunciation:


  2. 2. 사랑 = Love

    Love is a universal feeling and we definitely had to talk about it here. Korean people have a lovely way of saying they love someone or something through the word "love". Hear it in action here:


  3. 3. 행복감 = Happiness

    When there's love, there's definitely happiness. We are all chasing "happiness" as Korean speaking people would say. Listen closely and you might just get some “행복” in your life today:


  4. 4. 고양이 = Cat

    How did cats take over the internet? At this point, they seem to be ruling over everything and everyone. Listen to the correct pronunciation of the word ‘cat’. It only takes a meowment.


  5. 5. = Dog

    But let's not forget our lovely and loyal companions, dogs. A dog in Korean is "개", a really useful word for dog lovers worldwide. Here is how you would pronounce it:

  6. 6. 미소 짓다 = Smile

    Did you know that smiling relieves stress, elevates your mood and helps you live longer? Here’s how a Korean speaker pronounces the word ‘smile’:

    미소 짓다

  7. 8. = Yes

    Yes, we have arrived at number 8 where “yes” is the subject to be discussed. Korean speakers say “yes” by simply saying "예". Enhance your understanding by listening to how a person from South Korea would pronounce it:

  8. 9. 감사합니다 = Thank you

    A single ‘thank you’ is all you need to receive dozens of smiles everywhere you go. Here’s a native speaker thanking you in Korean:


  9. 10. 안녕히 가세요 = Goodbye

    At the end of a meeting, it’s always nice to say ‘goodbye’ so as to maintain the good first impression you managed to make with your flawless Korean. Let’s see how you can do that:

    안녕히 가세요

Improve your Korean vocabulary online

Speaking Korean

Modern online language courses, including those for Korean, are engaging, efficient, cost-effective, and incorporate the latest technological advancements in language learning. They offer a fantastic approach to enhancing your vocabulary. Introducing Mondly, recognized as one of Apple’s Best New Apps of 2016, it has been assisting millions globally in language acquisition. Our skilled linguists have carefully chosen the most essential Korean words, ensuring that your learning journey begins with what truly matters. Gone are the days of memorizing random, impractical words. With Mondly, you focus on practical Korean vocabulary that you're likely to use in everyday situations.
Every lesson in Mondly is centered around a specific theme or real-life situation, such as family, colors, animals, or shopping. This immersive approach quickly puts you in various scenarios like ordering food in a restaurant, reserving a hotel room, or engaging in a casual conversation with a native Korean speaker you've just met. Structuring the lessons around these themes simplifies the process of learning Korean. It helps in forming strong associations in your mind, making it easier to remember and use the language effectively in context. This thematic approach to language learning is not only practical but also enhances your ability to recall and apply new words in everyday situations.

Speaking Korean

The most beautiful Korean words

People speaking Korean

It’s been proven that you learn any language faster when you hear natives speak. That’s why our linguists have made listening to natives an essential part of the learning experience. All phrases within the app are recorded by professional Korean speakers so you can sit back and absorb the correct pronunciation of the most common Korean words effortlessly.
Now, let’s explore the ultimate goal of learning Korean: having real conversations. That’s exactly why we’ve made speaking exercises an essential part of our lessons so you can practice the cool Korean words you just learned. You have to try our Voice Chatbot, a software so advanced you can actually have an intelligent conversation with. Just engage in a conversation and you get asked questions, you respond and the Chatbot understands what you're saying and continues the chat. It’s a remarkable technology that made millions of people fall in love with Mondly.

People speaking Korean

Did you know?

Top Korean words

One of the longer words in Korean is ""장가피굴비나무"" (janggapigulbinamu), which refers to a type of tree, but even this word is not exceptionally long by Korean standards. Korean also doesn't have words with repeated consecutive letters like in English, because of the way its syllables are structured. Each block of Hangul combines consonants and vowels to form a syllable, making the occurrence of consecutive double letters as in ""bookkeeper"" not applicable in Korean. Additionally, Korean vocabulary is rich in meaning and often conveys concepts succinctly and efficiently. This brevity is a hallmark of the language's elegance. Words in Korean can express a range of emotions and ideas, sometimes encapsulating complex concepts in just a few syllables. This efficient use of language is part of what makes Korean unique and fascinating to learn.
The good news is that you don’t have to learn such words to be able to be fluent in Korean. With Mondly you will only learn the most important Korean words, the ones you really need to know to speak the language.
The Korean language, rich and nuanced, has a substantial number of words, but perhaps not as many as one million. The exact count can vary depending on how one defines a distinct word, especially considering compound words and borrowed words. Major Korean dictionaries contain tens of thousands of entries, reflecting the language's depth and variety. For learners, the task of mastering Korean may seem daunting at first glance. However, becoming fluent doesn't require knowing every single word. In fact, with a solid grasp of the most commonly used words and phrases, which is significantly less than the total number of words in the language, you can achieve a good level of fluency. It is estimated that knowing around 3,000 to 5,000 of the most commonly used Korean words can enable you to navigate most conversations and texts effectively. This more manageable number makes the goal of fluency in Korean an achievable one, encouraging learners to focus on the most essential aspects of the language.

Top Korean words

The benefits of learning the most common Korean words first

Make Korean learning fun and easier

Starting with the Korean basics means you will begin by learning the easiest words first and gradually increase difficulty. This way you will feel great while learning and see how your language knowledge broadens.

Have basic Korean conversations in no time

You'll be able to speak to someone from North Korea or South Korea about regular topics like weather, politics or family. This will make you confident in your Korean skills and eager to learn more.

Become fluent in Korean faster

By learning the most common Korean words first you are learning the smart way. Why learn the most unusual words in Korean when you might never use them in real life?

Improve your Korean vocabulary

Each new Korean word you learn piles up until your vocabulary builds stronger and stronger. Each lesson gets you one step closer to fluency.

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