Generalities in English are often introduced using a generic "you" or "one".

For example,

  • "when one is hungry, everything tastes good"
  • "when you are a young teacher, you have a lot of work"

Is there a Korean equivalent for these words? Or are generalities expressed in Korean by formulating them in another way? For instance, the second example could be expressed as 젊은 선생님은 일이 많이 있어요, that is "Young teachers have a lot of work".

3 Answers 3


Generic "you" or "one" in English is just a filler word for a subject. In Korean you don't need to use it, since you can just drop the subject.

when one is hungry, everything tastes good

배고플 때면 뭐든지 맛있게 느껴진다.

Notice there isn't a subject in the sentence.

when you are a young teacher, you have a lot of work

These kind of sentences just don't work in Korean. You have to formulate it in another way.

젊은 선생님들은 일이 많다. (young teachers have a lot of work)

선생님들이 젊을 때는 일이 많다. (when teachers are young, they have a lot of work)

The second sentence is better when contrasting young teachers with old teachers.

  • Thanks. What is the difference between 어린 and 잚은? Google translates by 'young'. (Not sure it is worth a separate question)
    – Taladris
    Jun 22, 2016 at 3:43
  • 2
    @Taladris 어리다 is younger than 젊다. 어리다 is "immature", 젊다 is "mature, but not old".
    – MujjinGun
    Jun 22, 2016 at 4:28

As explained in @MujjinGun's answer, it is very common to drop a subject in Korean. For example, when you ask "Are you hungry?", you don't use '당신은' or '너는' and you just say "배고프니?", "배고프세요?", "배고픕니까?", etc.

However, if you want to use 'generic one' in Korean, you can use '사람(들)' which literally means 'people', for example:

When one is hungry, everything tastes good.

is translated to

사람(들)이 배고플 때(는) 모든 것이 맛있다.


When you are a young teacher, you have a lot of work.

can't be translated to

사람들이 젊은 선생님일 때, 사람들은 일이 많다.

The above sentence sounds very awkward as generic 'you' is not usually tranlsated. It is better to translate it to

젊은 선생님(들)은 일이 많다. or 선생님(들)이 젊을 때는 일이 많다.

  • "배고플때" should be modified as "배고플 때". Jun 22, 2016 at 5:35
  • @choco_addicted Thanks. I changed "선생님일때", too.
    – user7
    Jun 22, 2016 at 5:38
  • I liked your answer but I can only accept one. I choose @MujjinGun's answer mostly because he was the first one to answer.
    – Taladris
    Jul 8, 2016 at 4:12
  • @Rathony: I meant I found both question equally useful and I had to use other means to decide. I just wanted to be thankful and encouraging since the site is young.
    – Taladris
    Jul 8, 2016 at 8:52

For anyone that that is doing translation and needs something to freshen up the "one" that means "everyone", one might use


A "four character idiom" (사자성어), this literally translates to:

Men, women, old, and young

So "when hungry, no matter who you are, everything tastes good":

남녀노소 배고플 때면 뭐든지 맛있게 느껴진다

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