When I started learning the Korean language I found textbooks to be boring. Just following the book made it take a long time to finally learn the top 100 Korean words for daily life.
So here is my list of the top 100. But there’s a twist.
When you’re learning a new language, I found that you tend to think in your original language first. Since I was not familiar with the words in my target language, I always thought of the words I wanted to say in English first, regardless of whether those words were the most common in Korean or not.
And that makes sense. Until you’re more familiar with a new language, you’re going to be translating every word in your head as you basically translate yourself.
So here instead is a list of the top 100 most common English words, in Korean, that actually you are more likely to use when trying to express yourself at a basic, beginner stage.*
The Top 100 Korean Words to Learn
About (as in, talk about yourself): _ 대해서
Any (as in, I couldn’t find any):
Because (as in, because of you): _ 때문에
Can: _ 수있다
Cant _ 못하다
Don’t know: 모르다
From (as in, from then until now): _부터
Front: (as in, in front of something) 앞
Good (as in, a good neighbor): 좋은_
Have: _ 있다
Her (as in, her friend): 그녀의
His (as in, his ugly car): 그의
How (as in, how did you do that?): 어떻게 _
I: 나는 [Note, don’t refer to yourself this way to high status people].
In: _ 에서
Last (as in, last Christmas): 지난
Like (as in, to be similar): 같다
Little (as in, a little salt): 좀
Make (as in, make some trouble): 만들다
More (as in, one more time): _더
Only (as in, only you understand me): 만
Other: 다른 것
Second (as in, one second): 초
Time (as in, what is the time?): 시간
Want (as in, I want to go shopping): 하고 싶다
Way (as in, which way?): 길
Well (as in, well done!): 잘
What (as in, what are you talking about?): 뭐
Things You Need
To make full use of this list you will have to know how to read Korean characters or script, also called Hangeul.
It might sound like a pain but honestly it is one of the easiest things you will ever do. It will take you 30 minutes and I promise you will feel like a rockstar when you’ve mastered it.
You can find a bunch of videos online, but here is one that I found fast and useful:
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*Ps. I will admit that I dropped out a lot of very common but non-beginner words such as grammatical connectors. If you want to learn more Korean grammar, check out Talk To Me In Korean’s great grammar lessons here.