Things that look daunting to me in Korean - I need some answers before I decide to learn it

(This post is probably best answered by more advanced Korean learners) I already know hangul and some very basic Korean, and have an idea about how the basic grammar works due to some knowledge of Japanese, but I just need someone to give me an idea of how hard the following are: Firstly, is the whole honorifics/respect system very hard? Is it common to find yourself switching to different pronouns, are there certain "safe" ways of saying things that cause you to avoid being rude to everyone, and how does this affect the language overall, would the Korean being spoken amongst two children/friends differ greatly to that being spoken from one manager of a business to another, or is it just a matter of prefixes and suffixes.

The other thing that scares me a bit is Korean verbs. I know Spanish verbs pretty well now- and I can safely say Spanish has more verb conjugations than Korean, and I don't seem to find learning conjugations for verbs in other European languages very hard due to the fact I've learnt how verbs conjugate in a reasonable amount of European languages/learnt how to use the tenses English lost, - but Korean is just really different, perhaps there are a few less conjugations on the tables I find in comparison to those of some other languages, but there are still quite a quantity and apparently they also change depending who you're talking to (respect system, correct me if I'm wrong), do the mass majority of them follow a pattern or is it common to find irregular verbs following their own patterns, and are there hard concepts to get used to within this?

June 1, 2018


Beginner-learner here. I say don't let any part of a language system intimidate you. Treat it as a challenge. The harder something is, the more interesting and rewarding it will generally be. And Korean is definitely full of those. Especially coming from European languages :-)

As someone who's had to come to grips with the formalities in German (Spanish seems a lot more relaxed in this regard), I find it really difficult. Still. I've been living here for two years and I can more or less pull it off, but it still feels awkward to me sometimes and I'll catch myself at the end of the sentence checking I used the right level. I'm sure I'll 'grok' it at some point, but it's simply different from what I've been brought up with. It's a completely new idea. Korean will be no different. And from what I've learnt so far, the whole formality system is different even from German (not just more complex).

The conjugation is almost non-existent. In that regard I wouldn't worry about the difficulty. There are much more complex things to be worrying about (like climate change and where you're going to get your next meal). It's basically comprised of throwing bits on the end of existing words according to some very regular rules (even more regular than German). And it's not conjugated based on the subjects/objects. Just on who you're speaking to. It basically goes something like:

word + infinitive
word + formal
wor + moderately formal

So according to whom your speaking, your endings are pretty much going to stay consistent throughout your conversations. Easy!

June 1, 2018

Oh wow, that doesn't seem too bad, I'll probably start learning Korean soon then, of course, it is ranked as one of the hardest languages to learn so I'm not expecting it to be a walk in the park.

June 1, 2018

It is hard. That doesn't stop it being fun :-D

June 2, 2018

Korean is pretty literal, so once you learn the vocabulary and basic grammar, it gets much easier. :) Most of its difficulty comes from having to learn a whole new way of thinking and communicating. (the vocab is hard for me, but a lot of the vocabulary can be kind of cutesy and repetitive, which is easier to remember.)

June 3, 2018

There are also endings that change the meaning of what you're saying and there's overlap between them.

June 2, 2018

Honorifics can be a little bit of a struggle, but for most situations the knowledge of 2 or 3 is enough (I would recommend being familiar with all the current use honorifics if you plan to travel, though). Also a lot of media tends to be in casual honorifics, so despite having several levels of honorifics, Korean currently has a few in common use, and a few more being more rare. Honorifics vary in suffix and pronouns, but the hard part is understanding what honorific to use when.

Korean conjugation is only for tense and you add suffixes for honorifics; you don’t need to conjugate for person. Verbs in Korean are quite easy compared to Spanish verbs grammar-wise.

June 2, 2018

I'll let other people shine in, but here is a Reddit thread where I voiced my overall sentiment that Korean is extremely logical and mostly lacks irregularities.

Not that this answers your question directly, but thought I'd pick up on your last sentence about existence of patterns or not.

As a side note, the r/Korean subreddit is a very good resource for exactly this kind of questions. You're gonna find way more advanced learners there than here on Duolingo where most are still beginners.

June 2, 2018

Thanks for the advice, I'll make sure to look on that subreddit.

June 2, 2018

I will say Korean is hard, but I'm Korean myself so I should shut up. But the words are scrambled around and I recommend you to look at the sounds of the vowels and consonants- learning their sounds- and yes, this is pretty easy.

Some sounds sound alike, some like you get so annoyed that this was supposed to be that but Duolingo was so dumb it didn't do so, but it is like a nice challenge, eh?

June 2, 2018

I suppose so haha, no one said learning a language was easy.

June 2, 2018
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