Both words are usually translated by "fee" or "fare" or "charge" or "expenses".

Here are some examples of usages of 비:

  1. 참가비: participation fee
  2. 회비: membership fee
  3. 관리비: management expenses
  4. 생활비: living expenses

And some usages of 요금:

  1. 가스요금: gas fee
  2. 전화요금: telephone charge

Are these words interchangeable? I believe that no, so is there a clear-cut rule to apply to know which word to use? Or is it by usage?

  • Thanks for including translations for your question. They're helpful for understanding the question better.
    – Amacelia
    Jan 30, 2017 at 17:56

3 Answers 3


As B. Alvn said, -비 cannot be used alone, since it's a suffix, and 요금 is an independent noun (They both originate from Chinese, by the way.) 요금 is mostly interchangable with the suffix -료, for example,

  • 통행 요금 = 통행료 (latter is common)
  • 전기 요금 = 전기료 (former is common)
  • 수도 요금 = 수도료 (former is common)
  • 입장 요금 = 입장료 (latter is common)

though my perception of the prevalence thing could be disputed.

-비 contains the meaning of 비용, which translates to expense, and is generally not interchangable with 요금 I think. This is because 요금 implies that it's money to be paid for a service that you were(will be) provided with, while -비 does not necessarily.

However in some cases they are interchangable.

One example where -비 and 요금 are interchangable though is 버스 요금/버스비. Also, people often refer to the toll they pay at toll gates on roads as 톨비, which is a kind of 통행 요금.

In the top four examples in your question, you cannot substitute -비 with 요금. As for 생활비, -비 is clearly not interchangable with 요금, since 생활비 refers to living expenses in general, and it doesn't directly involve any sort of specific services.

As for the last two examples however, you can say 가스비 and 전화비 instead of 가스 요금 and 전화 요금, and actually 가스비 and 전화비 are more common than 가스 요금 and 전화 요금.

So I think there indeed is a rule regarding when to use which, but it is also heavily dictated by people's habits.


비 is a Chinese root (from: 費 meaning-- expenses or fee) and is not used as a seperate word, only as a root. 요금 is an independent Korean word meaning--rate, charge, fee, etc.

Technically speaking, terms like these should be written with a space (as 가스 요금, 전화 요금). However, Koreans and their language are notoriously bad about spacing in general, and even natives are often unsure in many situations, so I'm sure you often see those as you wrote them. But you will never see a 비-based word written with a space.

  • Thanks. I confirm that my textbook writes the words with 요금 with no space. Although you clearly answer the question in title, I am not sure you answered the sub-questions in the body. I guess from your answer that no, they are not interchangeable, and no, there is no clear rule.
    – Taladris
    Jan 31, 2017 at 0:42
  • 1
    They are two different things. Clearly they are not interchangable and no rule is involved, really...there are just different words for different things. Your textbook is wrong about the spacing, but as I say, Koreans themselves don't know or don't care that much about spacing in general...did you know in the old days Korean used no spacing at all, or even punctuation?
    – B. Alvn
    Jan 31, 2017 at 12:16

요금 (료) rate vs 비용 (비) expense

When I use some service, I must pay rate. When I do something or achieve my goal, we must prepare some A. Here for A we pay an expense.

학비 벌려고 아르바이트 한다.

For an academic expense, I must do a part-time job.

인건비 제하면 남는 것 없어.

I have a small profit because of employee cost.

이사 비용 moving expense 재판 비용 court costs 생활비 living expense.

비행기 요금이 만만치 않네.

I can not afford an airplane cost.

공연료가 너무 비싸다.

Performance admission fee is highly expensive.

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