In Korean there are different levels of politeness that one needs to be aware of.
We use the polite form usually with strangers (using 요 at the end of every sentence), and also we learned about the deferential form which we use for seniors and elders.
Now it’s time to learn two other forms, the intimate and plain forms.
The intimate form ending (called 반말) is easy. We just take the ‘요’ off of any polite sentence ending and that’s the intimate form!
We use the intimate form with anyone whom we consider either lower in age (like a child), or someone who we are close with (like a close friend or lover).
Now that we got the intimate form out of the way, the rest of this article will talk about the plain form.
1. What is the plain form? The plain form is used mostly in writings, and sometimes when speaking. When writing, the formality doesn’t matter, and when speaking, it is on roughly the same level as the intimate form, and is often used with close friends or family.
V + (ㄴ/는)다
DV + 다
2. The standard way of making a plain form statement is to replace the verb stem with ‘ㄴ/는’ 다 (ㄴ for vowel endings, 는 for consonant endings), but only for action verbs. Adjectives (descriptive verbs) don’t change at all, they use the dictionary 다 form. When speaking, the statement form can be used to draw attention to something.
나는 보통 7시에 아침을 먹는다. – I usually eat breakfast at 7am.
난 집에 가야 된다. – I have to go home.
V + 느냐?
V + 니?
V + 냐?
3. When asking a question in writing with the plain form, the ending is -느냐?, but when speaking in plain form, the question ending is either ‘-니?’ or ‘-냐?’, with the latter slightly more intimate.
커피를 좀 마시고싶니? – Do you want to drink some coffee?
혹시 난 널 사랑하냐? – Perhaps I love you?
AV + (아/어)라!
4. When making a request or imperative statement in plain form, we conjugate with -아라 if the verb’s last vowel ends in ㅏ,ㅗ, and -어라 otherwise.
김치 먹어라! – Eat some Kimchi!
AV + 자!
5. As mentioned before, -자 is the plain/intimate ending for making a suggestion.
같이 가자! – Let’s go together!