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Honorifics

Let's look a little bit closer at the endings you learned in Grammar Builder 1. Keep in mind that in Korean, these endings are very important, and while eventually you will be able to use many different endings to indicate different levels of polite speech, depending on who you are speaking about or to, for now it's best to stick with just a few endings as you slowly build your understanding of how they work.

In Grammar Builder 1, we mentioned that –yo is the polite sentence ending, and –se is the subject honorific. The –yo ending and other sentences endings will be used depending on whom you're speaking to, while the honorific changes depending on who you're talking about.

When you are the subject of your own sentence, though, you won't use –se. Take a look at the examples below:

Talking about yourself Talking about someone else
한국어 있어요.
Hangugeo hal soo isseoyo.
I can speak Korean.
한국어 하실 있으세요?
Hangugeo hashil soo isseuseyo?
Can you speak Korean?

You don't see the –se in the first sentence, because the subject is the speaker. You will, however, use the polite ending –yo even when you are talking about yourself if you want to be polite. The polite ending –yo is used to express politeness to the listener, regardless of the who the speaker or subject of the statement is.