When asking for things in Korean, there is one word you absolutely need to know how to use: 주세요 (ju-se-yo). This is the polite form of the word 주다 (to give) so it would literally translate as ‘Please give…’. There are two main usages of this word that you need to know, so let’s get cracking!
1. Noun + 주세요
The easiest way to ask for something is by simply attaching 주세요 after any noun.
Here are some examples:
커피 주세요. Please give me (a) coffee.
책 주세요. Please give me the book(s).
(Note: although there is a specific plural marker for nouns, -들 (-deul), often Korean doesn’t specify this, so objects without -들 can be both singular or plural)
시간 주세요. Please give me time.
돈 주세요. Please give me money.
전화번호 주세요. Please give me your phone number.
Pretty straightforward, right?
This is the simplest way to order food at restaurants or any time you ask someone to give you something in general.
However, the next usage is slightly more tricky as 주세요 can also combine with verbs. Let’s take a look!
2. Verb + 아/어/여 주세요
This form attaches to the stem of verbs and is used when asking someone to do something for you in a polite manner.
In brackets are the standard dictionary form and normal polite form. The verb stem has been highlighted.
Here are some examples:
커피 사 주세요. Please buy me a coffee. (사다 – 사요; to buy – I buy)
책 빌려 주세요. Please lend me the book. (빌리다 – 빌려요; to borrow – I borrow)
도와 주세요. Please help me. (돕다, ㅂ irregular verb – 도와요; to help – I help)
안아 주세요. Please hug me. (안다 – 안아요; to hug – I hug)
많이 사랑해 주세요. Please love us/me a lot. (사랑하다 – 사랑해요; to love – I love)
이해해 주세요. Please understand. (이해하다 – 이해해요; to understand – I understand)
3. Note on use of 제발
You may have noticed that I used ‘please’ when translating 주세요. This is because it is in a form that shows respect, therefore in English, ‘please’ is an appropriate translation. BUT, if you look up ‘please’ in the dictionary, you will find it is normally translated as 제발. Be careful!
Although this can be correct in some cases, 제발 is NOT used for when you are just adding ‘please’ to show politeness. Instead, it is used when showing frustration and desperation and is often translated with something like ‘I beg you‘.
제발 좀 가. PLEASE, just go away.
아 진짜… 제발. Seriously… Come on..!
I hope you enjoyed this lesson and now feel more confident when asking for things in Korean! Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover in the following weeks. See you next week! ^^