Korean Language Blog

Honorific Titles Posted by on May 7, 2009 in Korean Language

Honorific titles can help you figure out the nature of your relationship with other people.

For example, shi () can be translated as Mr./Miss/Mrs. When you use this title, you are showing a level of respect. Shi () is attached at the end of the name. We’ll use Minji (민지) as the first name. Minji shi (민지 ), means Miss/Mrs. Minji. (Minji is a typical name for a girl). Using shi () also indicates a level of formality. This would be used towards strangers, but not friends.

Nim () is also a title of respect. Nim () is usually attached to professions. The difference between nim () and shi () is that shi () is used after actual names, while nim () is used after an occupation. The word for teacher (선생님) is a word that often has the nim () attached. It’s not only the professions that attach nim (). The word for god (하나님) also contains this honorific title, so do family members like grandmother (할머님).

Sunbe (선배) is used to address someone who is either older than you or someone who has more experience in the same occupation as you. You’ll often hear the title sunbe (선배) in schools and at work. Sunbe (선배) is gender neutral, meaning you can use this towards women and men. There are rare situations where a sunbe (선배) can be younger than his collegue and yet have more experience in the workplace. In this case, it’s still okay to use the title sunbe (선배).

Ok, time to go. Najungeh ba (나중에 봐) or see you later!


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  1. r:

    What does 사방님 mean in reference to a taekwondo teacher?

  2. Jesmine:

    I want to learn Korean language

  3. Ani:

    very helpful indeed