I'm sorry for writing this blog post almost a week after I published the video for it. The day I shot and published the video I fell ill with a stomach flu and have been too weak to get out of bed until today ㅠ___ㅠ. I'm feel a lot better so I'm finally going back to the pile of responsibilities I've abandoned while I was sick and this blog post was on the top of my priorities list!
Did you know that Korean has more than one way of commanding others to do something?? And did you know that all of them are super simple?! Don't believe me? Keep reading!
Verb stem + 어/아 (요)
This is by far the easiest yet least formal way to command someone because you all are already familiar with this. Think of any regular affirmative sentence and its construction in Korean and there you go, you got yourself an imperative sentence as well. In this case it all comes down to your intonation and the context.
밥을 천천히 먹어- Eat slower (Eat the food slower)
열심히 공부해!- Study hard!
빨리 가!- Go quickly!
Hint: The way to differentiate affirmative and imperative sentences is to look for the subject of the sentence. If a sentence doesn't have a subject it is most likely a command because the speaker doesn't need a subject to convey his command to the listener. It's not a 100% foul proof method because affirmative sentences don't necessarily need a subject but it does work a lot of the time.
These commands are NOT formal at all so be aware of who you are speaking to. You can make them a bit more formal by adding 요 at the end:
밥을 천천히 먹어요- Eat slower (Eat the food slower)
열심히 공부해요!- Study hard!
빨리 가요!- Go quickly!
Verb stem + 어/아라
As I mentioned in the video, for some reason, I really like how this way of commanding in Korean sounds even though I can't really use it at the moment. This imperative structure is mostly used by elders referring to their children or younger people, but I thought I might as well throw it in for educational purposes.
빨리 가라!- Go quickly!
그렇게 해라!- Do it this way!
내 말을 들어라!- Listen to me! (Listen to my words!)
밥을 먼저 먹어라!- Eat first! (Eat the food first!)
Verb stem + (으)세요
As easy as it is to give commands in a not-so-formal manner, we should learn how to do that politely, which means we need to learn how to use (으)세요. It is quite straight forward if we decide not to go into details of where (으)세요 comes from. Let me know if you'd like me to elaborate on it another time :)
이 것을 보세요- Look at this
빨리 올라오세요-Come up quickly
이 길에 직진하세요- Go straight on this road
수고해세요- Keep it up
열심히 운동해세요- Exercise well
먼저 가세요- Go first
Special meaning of 있다
When used in an imperative mood, 있다 obtains a special meaning of "to stay". However there is a difference between using it in impolite vs polite speech.
반말 --> 있다
집에 있어- Stay at home
존뎃말 --> 계시다다
We can't use 있다 in formal speech and in this case we use its formal counterpart 계시다. It has the exact same meaning but is used when speaking with respect.
여기 계세요- Please stay here
안녕히 계세요*- Goodbye (Stay in peace)
*Now you know the grammar behind the most commonly known Korean word 안녕하세요 :)
Verb stem + 십시오
This is one of the most formal ways to address anyone and you will not hear it too often outside of Korea. This expression is often used in official correspondences, on government buildings, very fancy events and towards extremely respectful people (presidents, elders, etc.).