Special Honorific Words Posted by on Jan 10, 2010 in Grammar

There are certain verbs that look unrecognizable in the honorific. Take the verb 먹다 (to eat). In the honorific polite it would be 잡수세요 or 드세요. Just be careful about when to use 잡수세요 and 드세요. The two aren’t always interchangeable. When it comes to solid foods like rice both 잡수세요 and 드세요 will work. However, when it comes to liquids like water, it sounds awkward to use 잡수세요. Interestingly, rice is one of those nouns that has an honorific equivalent. So when using 잡수세요 or 드세요 with rice, it sounds better to use the honorific equivalent of (rice), which is 진지.

Another verb to look out for is 자다 (to sleep). In the honorific polite it will be 주무세요. When referring to adults, it’s more polite to use 주무세요. Take a look at this sentence, “할머님이 집에 주무세요“. (할머님 = grandmother. = subject marking particle. = home. = at. 주무세요 = sleep.) In English this sentence would be, “Grandmother sleeps at home.” Since the sentence is referring to an elderly person as the subject of the action, 주무세요 is used to show respect towards that particular subject of the sentence. Also, (home/house) is another one of those nouns with an honorific equivalent.

In a sentence like this, “선생님의 댁에서 공부했어요 was used instead of . (선생님 = teacher. = possessive particle.  = house/home. 에서 = from. 공부했어요 = studied.) In English this sentence would mean, “[I] studied from [the] teacher’s house”. In the previous sentence (the one about the grandmother sleeping), the use of instead of  may imply that the speaker is talking about the speaker’s own house or the house of someone who is of the speaker’s age. In Korean, to use for your own house or home is considered arrogant because is an honorific noun.

Also, 있다 (to be present, to have) is also unrecognizable in the honorific polite. However, there’s a twist to this. When 있다 is used to mean presence, like this sentence, “선생님 계세요?” (“Is the teacher here?”) (선생님 = teacher. 계세요 = here/present) then 계세요 will be used. However, when describing possession like this sentence, “지갑 있으세요?” (Do you have your wallet?) (지갑 = wallet. 있으세요 = have), 계세요 will not be used. The verbs 먹다, 자다, and 있다 are special in this regard, and it’s best to just memorize the odd forms they take in the honorific polite.

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