Korean Lesson on 아/어/여요

Lesson 45: 아/어/여요 2

In Lesson 3 of this course, you learned how to use 아/어/여요 to form the present tense. In this lesson, you will learn another useful function of 아/어/여요. The ending 아/어/여요 can be used to suggest or propose something to someone. This is like saying “let’s…” in English. By the end of this lesson, you’ll be able to say things like “Let’s eat lunch together.”, “Let’s go to the park.”, “Let’s watch an action movie.“, etc.

Lesson 5: 아/어/여요 2

The ending 아/어/여요 is similar to ‘let’s‘ in English. 아/어/여요 is used to suggest or propose doing something with the listener. Let’s look at some examples.

가다 = to go
공원에 가요. = Let’s go to the park.

보다 = to see/watch
영화를 봐요. = Let’s watch a movie.

먹다 = to eat
점심을 먹어요. = Let’s eat lunch.

읽다 = to read
책을 읽어요. = Let’s read a book.

공부하다 = to study
한국어를 공부해요. = Let’s study Korean

Conjugation Rules

아/어/여요 is only attached to verbs, not to adjectives. When attaching 아/어/여요 to verbs, you must choose either 아요, 어요, or 여요. The one you use depends on the last vowel in the verb stem. These conjugation rules are exactly the same as when using the ending 아/어/여요 to form the present tense. For a review of these conjugation rules, check the table below.

Conjugation RuleExamples
Last vowel in verb stem is ㅏ or ㅗ
+ 아요
가다 (to go) → 가요
Last vowel in verb stem is NOT ㅏ or ㅗ
+ 어요
먹다 (to eat) → 먹어요
Verb ends in 하다
+ 여요
공부하다 (to study) → 공부해요

Negative Form (Let’s Not)

If you want to use the negative form and say “Let’s not” to suggest not doing something, then you can simply add 지 마요 to the verb stem. Here is an example:

내일 등산 갈까요? =  Shall we go hiking tomorrow?
내일 비가 올 거예요. 가지 마요. = It will rain tomorrow. Let’s not go.

Things To Note

아/어/여요 looks like a polite expression because it ends in 요. However, the ending 아/어/여요 should not be used to make a suggestion to people older or of a higher ‘status’ than the speaker. In this case, the ending (으)시지요 is more appropriate as this is the formal way to say “Lets…“. See the example below.

사장님, 회의에 같이 가요. (X) = Let’s go to the meeting, Sir.
사장님, 회의에 같이 가시지요. (O) Let’s go to the meeting, Sir.

Another thing to note is that there are other ways to say “Let’s” in Korean. The ending -(으)ㅂ시다 (e.g. 먹읍시다 = Let’s eat.“) is a little more formal compared to 아/어/여요 and is often used when making a suggestion to a group of people. However, (으)ㅂ시다 should not be used with people older or of a higher ‘status’ than the speaker. In this case, the above formal ending ((으)시지요) should be used.

The ending 자 (e.g. 먹자 =”Let’s eat.“) is an informal/non-polite way to make a suggestion. This should only be used with those much younger than you or with close friends. See the below examples for the differences between these different ways to say “Let’s…”.

가시지요. = Let’s go. (formal)
갑시다 = Let’s go. (a little formal, polite)
가요. = Let’s go. (polite)
가. = Let’s go. (informal, casual)
가자. = Let’s go. (informal, nonpolite)

Review And Example Sentences

In this lesson, you learned that the ending 아/어/여요 is not only used to form the present tense, but is also used to make suggestions. Here are many example sentences using this way to say “Let’s” in Korean:

언제 출발할까요? = When shall we depart?
20분 후에 출발해요. = Let’s leave in 20 minutes.

공포 영화 볼까요? = Shall we watch a horror movie?
무서워요. 그냥 액션 영화 봐요. = It’s scary. Let’s just watch an action movie.

길이 너무 복잡해요. 우리 지하철 타요. = The road is jammed. Let’s take the subway.
좋아요! = That sounds good.

죄송하지만 먼저 갈게요. = I’m sorry, but I’m leaving first.
벌써요? 조금만 더 얘기해요. = Already? Let’s talk a little more.

배가 아파서 오늘 약속에 못 가요. 미안해요. = I have a stomachache, so I can’t make it today. Sorry.
알겠어요. 다음에 만나요. = I see. See you next time. (Lit. Let’s meet next time.)

한국어가 조금 어려워요. = Korean language is a little difficult.
그래요? 그럼 우리 같이 공부해요.* = Is it? Then, let’s study it together.

*우리 (us) and 같이 (together) are often used with 아/어/여요 to emphasize that the speaker is making a suggestion to do something together with the listener.