In a previous lesson, we covered how to use the imperative form ~(으)세요. To recap, ~(으)세요 is used to tell someone to do something, to give a command, or to give an instruction to someone. The imperative form ~(으)세요 includes the polite ending ‘요‘ and so it has the meaning of ‘please do’ something.
However, there is a more polite way to ask someone to do something. This is to use the ending ~아/어/여 주세요 which has the meaning of ‘please do (something) for me.’ or ‘please do (something) for someone.’ Using this ending when asking someone to do something makes your instruction/request sound much more polite. In this lesson, you will how to use ~아/어/여 주세요 to politely give instructions or make requests in Korean.
If you remember how to conjugate verbs in the present tense, then it is really easy to attach ~아/어/여 주세요 to a verb as it follows the same rules. After removing 다 from the verb stem, you must attach either ~아 주세요, ~어 주세요, or ~여 주세요.
If the last vowel in a verb stem is ㅏ or ㅗ, then add ~아 주세요
사다 = to buy
사 주세요. = Please buy for me.
물을 사 주세요. = Please buy water for me.
If the last vowel in a verb stem is NOTㅏ or ㅗ, then add ~어 주세요
읽다 = to read
읽어 주세요. = Please read for me.
큰 소리로 읽어 주세요. = Please read it loudly for me.
If a verb ends in 하다, then add ~여 주세요
In our lesson on conjugating verbs into the present tense, we showed you that 하다 + 여 becomes 해. So, 하다 plus ~여 주세요 becomes 해 주세요.
청소하다 = to clean
청소해 주세요. = Please clean for me.
거실을 청소해 주세요. = Please clean the living room for me.
~(으)세요 vs ~아/어/여 주세요
These two imperative forms have a similar meaning but an important difference. ~아/어/여 주세요 emphasizes that the action is for the benefit of the speaker, or for the benefit of someone else.
To help explain this, imagine your friend is going to the coffee shop and you want him to buy a coffee for you. Would you say “Please buy a coffee.” (커피 사세요.) or “Please buy a coffee for me.” (커피 사 주세요.)? The second one right?
Not only does ~아/어/여 주세요 emphasize that the action is for the benefit of the speaker or for someone else, using ~아/어/여 주세요 rather than ~(으)세요 when making commands/requests makes your sentences sound softer and much more polite.
Let’s look at some more examples to help you understand the difference between ~(으)세요 and ~아/어/여 주세요.
보다 = to see
보세요. = Please look.
봐 주세요. = Please look (at it) for me.
제 숙제를 봐 주세요. = Please look at my homework for me.
기다리다 = to wait
기다리세요. = Please wait.
기다려 주세요. = Please wait for me.
밖에서 기다려 주세요. = Please wait outside for me. (Please do me a favor and wait outside.)
가르치다 = to teach
가르치세요. = Please teach.
가르쳐 주세요. = Please teach me.
한국어를 가르쳐 주세요. = Please teach me Korean.