How do you say sorry in Korean?
There are several different ways to say sorry / apologize in Korean. Here are the most commonly used ways:
- 미안해 (mi-an-hae)
- 미안해요 (mi-an-hae-yo)
- 미안합니다 (mi-an-ham-ni-da)
- 죄송합니다 (joe-song-ham-ni-da)
In this lesson you will learn the different ways to say sorry in Korean including the informal way, polite way, and the formal way. The Korean words in this lesson are written in both Hangul and English. If you’ve not yet learned how to read the Korean alphabet, check out our complete Korean alphabet guide to help you learn how to read in Korean.
Sorry In Korean
1. 미안해 (mi-an-hae) – Informal
This first way to say sorry in Korean comes from 미안하다 (to be sorry). When conjugated in the present tense 미안하다 becomes 미안해.
Click on the audio button below to check how to pronounce 미안해.
As 미안해 is the informal way to say sorry in Korean, you should only use 미안해 with close friends or people younger than you.
2. 미안해요 (mi-an-hae-yo) – Polite
This way to say sorry in Korean is the same as the above with the polite ending ‘요’ attached to the end.
Click on the audio button below to check how to pronounce 미안해요.
미안해요 is the polite way to say sorry and can be used in most situations. However, it is much more common to use one of the following two formal ways to say sorry in Korean.
3. 미안합니다 (mi-an-ham-ni-da)
미안합니다 is made up of 미안하다 (to be sorry) plus the honorific ending ~(스)ㅂ니다. Click the button below to check how to pronounce 미안합니다.
미안합니다 is the formal way to say sorry in Korean. It can be used in any situation to say thank you in a polite and respectful way.
4. 죄송합니다 (joe-song-ham-ni-da)
죄송합니다 is made up of 죄송하다 (to be sorry) plus ~(스)ㅂ니다 (honorific ending).
Click on the audio below to check how to pronounce 죄송합니다.
죄송합니다 is the formal way to say sorry in Korean, and along with 미안합니다, it is the most common way to say sorry.
Even though this is the formal way, it is used in everyday situations to say sorry politely. If you’re not sure which way to say sorry in a particular situation, you can safely use 미안합니다 or 죄송합니다.
Usage Of Sorry In Korean
An important thing to note about using sorry in Korean is that it is not used in the exact same way as it is in English. In English you can use the word ‘sorry’ to apologize and to express sympathy / condolence (e.g. “I am sorry your dog died.”)
However, in Korean 미안해 / 미안해요 / 미안합니다 / 죄송합니다 can only be used to apologize. To express sympathy / condolence in Korean you must use a different word.
If one of your Korean friends told you that their dog had died and you said 죄송합니다 your Korean friend would likely ask why you are apologizing. It would sound as if you had something to do with the dog dying.
Review what you have learned about how to say sorry in Korean with this review quiz. Read the questions and choose the correct answer.