Level 1 Lesson 24 / Why? How? / 왜? 어떻게?

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안녕하세요 여러분! In this lesson, we are going to have a look at the interrogatives “why” “how” and also how to say things like “how much” “how fast” “how quickly” and so on. You can also review how to say “what” “who” and “where” in this lesson. Be sure to try making your own sample expressions and share them with us in the comment box! And if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask! Thank you! 감사합니다.

You can download a free PDF for this lesson here, or if you want to study with our TalkToMeInKorean textbooks, you can get them here. And after you learn the basics, try writing your own Korean sentences and get corrections from native speakers through HaruKorean, our 1:1 correction service.

  • Dolly

    Hello :) I want to be active with every lesson, so can i ask if this is right?

    -왜 울었어요?
    -얼마나 힘들요?

    • Greg

      Yes, but spelling – 힘들어요 (힘이 들어요)
      힘 is strength.
      들다 can also mean to be required (there’s many other meanings)
      힘들다 – requires strength literally, aka hard
      시간이 얼마나 들어요 how much time is required

    • Dolly

      Is that the hangeul of “how hard is it?”

    • Greg

      How hard is it – 얼마나 힘들어요 or 힘이 얼마나 들어요

    • Dolly

      감사합니다 (^_^)

  • 지아나

    어떻게 제주도 찾아요? (jeju island)

    얼마나 높요? (it)

    얼마나 내요? (I)

    누가 하고 있어요? (you)

    (~~~) = inferred subject

  • Sheriff

    Can’t ‘어떻게’ also mean something like ‘what are we gonna do?’ / ‘what to do?’?

    • Greg

      Yes, in the sense that how to deal with a problem. Though the problem can also be a bored mood :)
      I think It can also mean why sometimes Like “Why (for what reason) did you come?”
      어떻게 왔어요? Not necessary by what means,

  • Chandra

    How can i say ‘what is your telephone number? i want to call you.’

    • Greg

      전화 번호 좀 주세요 연락하고 (열라카고) 싶어요 (junhwa buno jom jooseyo. yullakago sheepuyo).
      Would you please give you tel number. I want to contact you.
      Well if you want to say using “what”: 전화번호가 뭐예요?

  • Lydia

    I think it would help me if there was more visual, like a video of you guys writting on a whiteboard than just the audio of you just talking.

  • Tiziana

    Thank you so much for your useful and interesting lessons ^_^!

  • Ace

    How would you say “how are you”

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      Hi Ace,
      Well, we don’t often say that expression as much as other country people do.
      However, I would say “어떻게 지내세요” for the expression.
      Thanks for your comment. :)

  • Amirul

    Hello! I’m new here. My family and I are going to Korea in the end of 2013, so my parents told me to learn Korea language so that I can help to communicate with Korean people. Got any suggestion or video for me to learn? I’ll appreciate it very much if you can help me =)

  • Odette

    If 얼마나 is used only for adjectives and adverbs, why is it used with 크다 and 무겁다? They are verbs right, since they end in 다 and mean “to be…”?

    • Wan Imran

      크다 and 무겁다 are descriptive verbs. they describe adjectives or adverbs. they end with 다 bcoz they are in dictionary forms. since 얼마나 means “how much” or “how long”, it can also be used with action verbs for example, 그녀는 얼마나 사랑해요 which is “how much i love her”.

  • Tino

    Why is “big” a verb in korean(To be big)? In the english expression “How big is it?”, “big” is an adjective. So when you say that in korean you use big as a verb there. It seems weird, so aren’t there any adjectives in korean language?

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      Hi Tino,
      The Korean word 큰 which means “big” is not a verb, but 크다 which means “to be big” is used as a verb.
      “How big is it?” = “그것은 얼마나 커요?”
      Thanks for your comment.

    • Odette

      Why isn’t 어떻게 used if 그다 is a verb and 얼마나 is only used with adjectives and adverbs?

    • http://small.dic.daum.net Greg

      어떻게 is “in what way”
      so if you say 어떻게 커요 it means how (why) is it big
      얼마나 is how much – how (much) big is it.

  • Odette

    When do you use 까지 to mean “to” and when do you use 에 to mean “to”? Is it that whenever you use 부터 or 에서 to mean “from,” you can only use 까지 to mean “to,” not 에? So you can’t use 까지 without 부터 or 에서 in the sentence? 감사합니다!

    • http://small.dic.daum.net Greg

      If you look at it technically like that, I guess so.
      Though you can say something like 집에서 은행에 가요, you don’t say 까지 in this case. 까지 translates more like “up to”, “until”, “even”. I mean the difference is like:

      집에서 or 부터 은행까지 가요 – I’m going from home to bank. Here’s it’s more about the distance or period. The sentence is a bit weird like that, but you may use it in a question like “how much is it from home to bank?”.

      So you should say 집에서 은행에 가요 – I’m going to the bank from home. Here you’re like talking about where you going or where you going from. You can also say 집에서 은행으로 가요, The focus on the locations.

      So to sum it up:
      ~에서/~부터 + ~까지 = distance or period of time.
      ~에서 + ~에/ ~로 = locations

      You I’ll figure it out as you see more example s and situations I guess,

  • Chris

    언제 공윈에 가요?

    How would I say

    When do you want to go to the park?
    언제 너는 해요 공원에 가고싶어요?


    This site has helped me a lot!

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      언제 너는 해요 공원에 가고싶어요? > You can say “언제 공원에 가고 싶어요?”
      Thanks for your comment.

  • Ilhem

    알 마 시 간 있 어 요 ? How much time we have ? Is that correct ?

    Well, I just want to thank you for this amazing web site ^^ It has helped me a lot with my Korean, I started learning it a week a go and I am progressing because of the efforts that you put to explain the lessons to us :)

    Thank you again =D

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      알 마 시 간 있 어 요 ? > 시간 얼마나 있어요?

      Thanks for your kind comment. :)


    힘 is strength.
    들다 can also mean to be required (there’s many other meanings)
    힘들다 – requires strength literally, aka hard
    시간이 얼마나 들어요 how much time is required


    힘 is strength.
    들다 can also mean to be required (there’s many other meanings)
    힘들다 – requires strength literally, aka hard
    시간이 얼마나 들어요 how much time is required


    힘 is strength.
    들다 can also mean to be required (there’s many other meanings)
    힘들다 – requires strength literally, aka hard
    시간이 얼마나 들어요 how much time is required

  • Sarah Cole

    Do these sentences work?
    Or is there a better way to ask each question?
    어디에 김치 있어요?

    어떻게 있어요?

    이거, 어떻게 말했어요?


    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      Hi Sarah Cole,

      어디에 김치 있어요?
      You can use the sentence. Good job, but it will be better to say “김치 어디에 있어요?”

      어떻게 있어요? > This one is quite subtle. Can you let me know what you mean in English?

      이거, 어떻게 말했어요? > Good job!

    • Sarah Cole

      어떻게 있어요?

  • 안녕하세요!

    I have a question, which may be a little irrelevant to the lesson (but it is necessary for using adjectives with “얼마나”): how do you go from the form 크다 to 커요 and 무겁다 to 무거워요? These don’t look like they follow the same rules for present tense in Lesson 16. Am I missing something?


    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      Hi 칼,

      If the verb stem’s last vowel isᅡ[a] or ᅩ [o], it is followed by 아요 [a-yo].
      If the last vowel is NOT ᅡ[a] or ᅩ [o], it is followed by 어요 [eo-yo].

      Regarding 크다, the last vowel of the verb stem is ㅡ, so 어요 was followed so it became 커요.

      Regarding 무겁다, the verb stem’s last vowel is ㅓ, so 어요 was followed too. However, it was effected by ㅂ irregular rule, the ㅂ was omitted and 우 was added between 거 and 어요.
      For the detail of the ㅂ irregular rule, please check the link below:

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Sarah Cole

    What is the difference in usage of
    and 이에요?
    Is it just in shortening of pronunciation?

  • ariel

    Hi TTMIK,

    im wondering, how would you say:

    1. how is (or what do you think about) something? i.e. how is (what do you think about) this movie?

    2. also (since we’re on the topic of question words) what is the difference between 무슨 & 어떤?

    3. why is it sometimes i see 어디가 and sometimes 어디에? is there a rule as to when i use which particle? also i see both verbs ‘있슴니까?’ and ‘입니까?’ used together with 어디 too e.g.

    여기가 어디입니까?
    제주도가 어디에 있슴니까?

    when do i use which verb? i apologize for all the questions i hope its not too much! haha,

    thanks :)

  • Cait

    I can’t type in Hangul symbols, joe-song-hap-ni-da… I’ll try to work with romanization:
    wa-u, i-geo go-yang-i geo-ye-yo! eol-ma-na mu-geo-wo-yo?

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      Hi Cait,
      You will check a program which you can write Hangeul through. I hope you try to write Hangeul so that it will be better for you to practice Korean.

    • omnia

      Hi Cait ,,,

      you can check this website for Korean keyboard ,, its so much easy



  • Maria

    so in a kpop song i heard the phrase “eol-ma-na kam-sa-han ji” and the eng subs for the video said “i’m so thankful” (not sure if the eng subs are accurate) but assuming that they are, can eol-ma-na also mean “so”? so in other words, what does eol-ma-na mean in that type of sentence?
    thanks :)

  • CyberMew

    어떻게 and 얼마나, what’s the difference? Both seems to say the same for me.

    How did you get here?
    어떻게 왔어요?
    얼마나 왔어요?

  • http://helpmeteacher.blogspot.com Kate

    서울에 미국 사람들 얼마나 있어요?

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      자세히는 잘 모르지만 엄청 많을 거예요.

  • Alex

    Hi. I’m just wondering if these sentences are the same:

    얼마나 많이 있어요? 몇 게 있어요? (How many are there?)


  • young

    좋은 사이트네ㅋ

  • Jenny

    How come the hieut in Otteoke does not have a “t” stop function? I use to read it as otteoTke because of the hieut ending consonant. Should I just memorize it as silent for this specific word?


    • Seokjin Jin

      When last consonant ㅎ is followed by ㄱ, the ㅎ sound is disappeared and the ㄱ sound becomes ㅋ.

  • Charlie

    레벨 9까지 모두 공부하려면 얼마나 오래 걸려요? Correct? Many thanx in advance.

  • 유범수

    안녕 하세요 교수님?
    질문이 있어요! In 얼마나, is it a combination of 얼마 + (이)나 to mean something like “up to how much…” Just going on a whim based on what I’ve learned on my own.

  • angrykriseu

    Hi~ the pdf file is blank D: