Grammar: Deferential speech level (formal polite)

So far I haven’t been writing in the deferential speech level so I decided to work more with it to put it all in place mentally. Here are my notes with sample sentences based on examples and corrected exercises from “Basic Korean Grammar”. I found it in my desk drawer when cleaning out – no need to shop for new books when I can go shopping in my own drawer!

When to use the formal polite speech level:
Public and/or formal communication settings. E.g. broadcasting, public speech, business meetings, conference presentations and the like.

Declarative: VS + -습니다 / -ㅂ니다
먹다 => 점심을 먹습니다 = (I) eat lunch
느리다 => 기차를 느립니다 = the train is slow
배우다 => 영어를 배웁니다 = (I) learn English
뜨겁다 => 물이 뜨겁습니다 = the water is hot

Interrogative: VS + -습니까? / -ㅂ니까?
춥다 => 날씨가 춥습니까? = is it (the weather) cold?
쉽다 => 시험이 쉽습니까? = is the test easy?
좋다 => 기분이 좋습니까? = is your feeling good?
시끄럽다 => 집이 시끄럽습니까? = is the house noisy?

Imperative: VS + -(으)십시오
거너다 => 길을 건너십시오 = cross the street
던지다 => 공을 던지십시오 = throw the ball
두드리다 => 문을 두드리십시오 = knock on the door
입다 => 코트를 입으십시오 = wear the coat

Propositive: VS + -(으)십시다
빌리다 => 책을 빌립시다 = (let us) borrow the book
타다 => 버스를 탑시다 = (let us) take the bus
주다 => 기회를 줍시다 = (let’s) give (them) a chance

Nice to know:

VS + -겠- + -습니다: 1st or 2nd person ~ intention
먹다 => 잘 먹겠슴니다 = I will eat well
어디로 가시겠습니까? = where will (you) go?
열심히 공부하겠습니다 = (I) will study hard
신용 카드로 지불하시겠습니까? = will you pay by credit card?

VS + -겠- + -습니다: about 3rd person or other entity ~ assumption or idea
드라마가 재미있겠습니다 = I guess the drama will be interesting
내일은 춥겠습니다 = (I guess that) as for tomorrow, (it) will be cold

Remember also subject honorific suffix: VS + -(으)시-
가다 => 갑니다
가시다 => 가십니다

Both verbs mean “to go”, but their social meanings are different, 가시다 being more respectful. -(으)시- can be used both when speaking to someone that one respects and about someone that one respects.

Polite formal vs. polite speech level:
It is not uncommon to mix the deferential speech pattern with the polite level (-요). For instance by introducing oneself in deferential speech and then switching to polite for a less formal atmosphere.

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One thought on “Grammar: Deferential speech level (formal polite)

  1. Pingback: A Beginner's Guide to Korean Speech Levels

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