Korean Expressions : Asking / Surprise
Welcome to Say THIS in THIS situation! If you aren’t completely familiar with Korean grammar, we also have grammar lessons for beginners. You might want to check them out as well!
이게 / 저게 / 그게 뭐야? / 뭐예요?
i-ge / jŏ-ge / gŭ-ge mwo-ya/mwo-ye-yo
What is THIS / THAT / IT?
이 = this
저 = that
그 = it
게 (것이) = thing
뭐 / 무어 = what
야/예요? = is?
Formal : 뭡니까?
Polite : 뭐예요?
Casual : 뭐야?
Let’s learn how to ask what something is. For this, you need to know 이/그/저 this/it/that. Now, following 이/그/저 comes 게 (“thing”), which is a short form of 것이 (것 is “thing” and 이 is just a subject marker which can’t be translated).
This thing – 이 것
That thing – 저 것
The thing – 그 것
This person – 이 사람
That person 저 사람
The person – 그 사람
So 이 is when a subject is close to the speaker,
저 is when a subject is far both from the speaker and the listener, and 그 is when a subject is close to the listener and the speaker is referring to it, OR when referring to something that’s not present (i.e., an idea).
어머! / 깜짝이야! / 세상에…
ŏ-mŏ! / kkam-jjak-i-ya / se-sang-e…
Oh my! / What a surprise! / What in the world…
어머! = “Oh my!” / “My goodness!”
깜짝이야! = “What a surprise!”
세상에… = “What in the world…”
어머! 깜짝이야! 세상에… are three most commonly appearing interjections related to expressing surprise. 어머! or 어머나! do not have a specific meaning associated with it (no, it’s not 어머니 “mother”), like when you say “ouch!” or “yikes!”, which don’t have a literal meaning.
On the other hand, 깜짝이야 can be translated as “What a surprise!” because 깜짝 means “with surprise”, and 이야 means “is” (our previous lesson 뭐야 means “what is”, remember? Of course, 깜짝 ends with a batchim so its 이야, while 뭐 of 뭐야 doesn’t have a batchim so 야 comes after that.
세상에… is pretty straight forward because 세상 means “world” and 에 means “in”, so combined it’s “(What) in the world…”
And because they are interjections, they don’t have formal/polite forms.
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