This week we embark upon the first of our travel survival phrases! What can you say if you’re shopping in South Korea and you want to find out the price of something?

얼마예요?

(eol-ma-ye-yo?)

The simplest way to ask the price of something is this phrase above. It translates with the meaning of, “How much is this?”, “How much does this cost?”, or “What is the price of this?” You can use this phrase in any kind of shopping situation, whether you’re in  a clothes store, a food market or a cafe. Of course, you’ll need to know your Korean numbers (remember there are two sets!) to understand the reply, so remember to study them, and which set of numbers to use in which situation, frequently. I do admit that numbers are my downfall when learning languages because I don’t practise them enough!

This phrase can be extended with the following words, and they aren’t necessary because people will understand you without them but if you want to be extremely clear in your meaning then use them as appropriate.

거 – (i-geo) / this (something is closer to you)

거 (geu-geo) / that (something is closer to the vendor)

 (jeo-geo) / that (something is far away from you and the vendor)

For example…

“그거 얼마예요?”

(geu-geo eol-ma-ye-yo?)

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Can you translate this now? It means, “How much is that?” You could say this if the thing you wanted to buy was next to the vendor, or being held by the vendor, for instance.

There is another way to use these three words if you want to be even more specific. If we take the beginning letter of each of the words, we get (i), (geu) and (jeo). If you know the Korean word for the thing you want to buy, you can put it after one of these letters, choosing the correct letter according to the rules we just learnt.

For example, if you want to buy a 팔지 (pal-ji) / bracelet that is near to you but you don’t know the price, what would you say?

“이팔지 얼마예요?”

(i-pal-ji eol-ma-ye-yo?)

How much is this bracelet? Simple, isn’t it? Write your own example in the comments below!

And, if you don’t quite catch the reply, what should you say? Here are two options…

가격을 적어주세요 (ga-gyeo-geul jeog-eo-ju-se-yo) // Can you write the price down for me?

다시 말해주세요 (da-shi mal-hae-ju-se-yo) // Please say that again.

Quick Quiz – Let’s practise! Can you translate these sentences? Write your answers in the comments below!

1) 그가방 얼마예요?

2) 이시게 얼마예요?

3) 저치마 얼마예요?

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