What is it? In Korean

/ / What is it? In Korean
What is it in Korean

In this lesson, you will learn how to ask and answer ‘What is it?’ in Korean. You’ll also learn an important Korean ending which will allow you to say things like ‘It’s a book.’ ‘It’s water.’, etc.

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.

‘What is it?’ In Korean

To learn how to say ‘What is it?’ in Korean, you must first learn the word for ‘what’. There are 6 different ways to say what in Korean but when asking ‘What is it?’ we use the word [mwo]. Listen to the audio below to hear how to say this word in Korean.

(mwo) = what

[mwo] is not usually said on its own but rather forms part of a sentence such as ‘What is it?’. You may hear it said on its own by Korean speakers or in K dramas, but when [mwo] is said on its own it sounds quite rude and impolite.

To say ‘What is it?’ in Korean, you attach 예요 [ye-yo] to [mwo] to make 뭐예요? [mwo-ye-yo?]. 예요 [ye-yo] is an ending which roughly translates as ‘is equals to’. So, 뭐예요? [mwo-ye-yo?] literally means ‘What is it equals to?’, or rather ‘What is it?’. Listen to the audio below to hear how to pronounce 뭐예요 [mwo-ye-yo?]

뭐예요? [mwo-ye-yo?] = What is it?

How To Answer

Now that you know how to ask ‘What is it?’ in Korean, let’s learn how to answer this question. To answer this question, you simply attach either ~이에요 [i-e-yo] or ~예요 [ye-yo] to a noun to make the sentence ‘It’s a (noun).’ Both of these endings are similar to ‘is’ in English in the sense of ‘is equals to’. The particular ending you choose depends on the noun which comes before it. Let’s look at how to decide whether to use ~이에요 [i-e-yo] or ~예요 [ye-yo].

If the noun ends in a consonant, add ~이에요.

If the last letter in the noun is a consonant, then you simply attach ~이에요 [i-e-yo] to the noun to make the sentence ‘It’s a (noun).’ Let’s look at an example.

  • [chaek] = book
  • [chaek] + ~이에요 [i-e-yo] = 책이에요 [chae-gi-e-yo]
  • 책이에요. [chae-gi-e-yo] = It’s a book.

As you can see in the above example, the noun [chaek], which means ‘book’, ends in the consonant . So, ~이에요 [i-e-yo] was added to make 책이에요 [chae-gi-e-yo] (It’s a book).

If the noun ends in a vowel, add 예요.

If the last letter in the noun is a vowel, then you simply attach ~예요 [ye-yo] to the noun to make the sentence ‘It’s a (noun).’ Let’s look at an example.

  • 바나나 [ba-na-na] = banana
  • 바나나 [ba-na-na] + ~예요 [ye-yo] = 바나나예요 [ba-na-na-ye-yo]
  • 바나나예요. [ba-na-na-ye-yo] = It’s a banana.

As you can see in the above example, the noun 바나나 [ba-na-na], which means ‘banana’, ends in the vowel . So, ~예요 [ye-yo] was added to make 바나나예요 [ba-na-na-ye-yo] (It’s a banana).

You may have also noticed in 뭐예요? [mwo-ye-yo?] (What is it?) the ending ~예요 was used. Again, this is because ends in a vowel ().

Example Sentences

EnglishKoreanAudio
What is it?뭐예요? [mwo-ye-yo?]
It’s a banana.바나나예요. [ba-na-na-ye-yo]
It’s a bag.가방이에요. [ga-bang-i-e-yo]
It’s an apple.사과예요. [sa-gwa-ye-yo]
It’s a school.학교예요. [hak-kkyo-ye-yo]
It’s a pencil.연필이에요. [yeon-pi-ri-e-yo]
It’s a T-shirt.티셔츠예요. [ti-syeo-cheu-ye-yo]
It’s water.물이에요. [mu-ri-e-yo]

Review Quiz

Review what you learned today with this fun review quiz. There are 10 questions and each question asks ‘What is it?’ in Korean. You must choose the correct answer with either 에요 or 이에요. Good luck! 🙂