Korean 101 with “Talk to me in Korean.com”


How to say “I am sorry”, and getting someone’s attention  죄송합니다. [joe-song-hap-mi-da]  “I am sorry.” or “I apologize.”

죄송합니다 is NOT always “I’m sorry”. Even though 죄송합니다 [joe-song-hap-ni-da] is BASICALLY “I’m sorry”, you can’t use 죄송합니다 when you want to say “I am sorry to hear that.” Many Korean people actually get confused when they talk about some bad news to their English-speaking friends and hear “I’m sorry” from them. If you say “I’m sorry.” after you hear a piece of bad news from your Korean friend, he or she might say “Why are YOU apologizing for that?” to you. This is because 죄송합니다 ONLY means “I apologize.”, “It was my bad.”, “Excuse me.” or “I shouldn’t have done that.” It can never mean “I’m sorry to hear that.”

In English, you can use the expression “Excuse me.” in all of the following situations.

1) when you are passing through a crowd of people

2) when you are leaving the room for a second

3) when you want to get someone’s attention and talk to them or let them know something

4) when you want to call the waiter in a restaurant or a cafe to order something

저기요 [jeo-gi-yo] is an expression that can be translated to “Excuse me” but this Korean expression, 저기요 is ONLY used for situation number 3 and 4 above.

How do you say “Excuse me.” when you want to pass through? You can say:

잠시만요. [jam-si-man-yo] (literal meaning: “Just a second.”)

죄송합니다. [joe-song-ham-ni-da] (literal meaning: “I am sorry.”)

잠깐만요. [jam-kkan-man-yo] (literal meaning: “Just a second.”)

** Yes, “jamsimanyo” and “jamkkanmanyo” are the same thing.

These are the most commonly used expressions. You don’t have to memorize them right now, but they are just good to know!

TalkToMeInKorean is a website and community where learning Korean may not be magically easy, but is fun and exciting. Learning a new language can be a lot of fun when you are a part of a welcoming and encouraging community with teachers and other learners. We hope that TalkToMeInKorean is just that; a community that motivates and nurtures learners to develop their language skills in fun and innovative ways. Since our launch in December 2009, we have recorded over 15,000,000 lesson downloads and 1,000,000 unique visitors.


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