My Korean teacher has asked me to keep a journal. What's the correct form and level of formality for talking to yourself?

Are journals written in 반말 ? Or plain form? Or perhaps something else?

  • Have you tried asking your teacher what format he wants it in?
    – user17915
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 0:15
  • The teacher is more interested in having us write than to have us write correctly. I'd like to struggle for the latter. I'm thinking that journals would be written in plain form, yes?
    – rajah9
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 2:56

1 Answer 1


It is your choice.

The most common style called 일기체 is to make declarative sentences end with 다 as the following:

  • 어제 친구와 영화관에 갔다. (past)

  • 내일은 학교에 간다. (future, with certainty)

  • 다음 주에는 서울에도 가고 부산에도 갈 예정이다. (future plans)

Other types of sentences and quotations may end with other endings, but I will not list them here because I cannot generalize personal styles on these sentences.

If your superiors/teachers are going to read it, you may use 하십시오체:

  • 어제 친구와 영화관에 갔습니다.
  • 내일은 학교에 갑니다.
  • 다음 주에는 서울에도 가고 부산에도 갈 예정입니다.

해요체 can also be used if you are telling your stories to your friends:

  • 어제 친구와 영화관에 갔어요.
  • 내일은 학교에 가요.
  • 다음 주에는 서울에도 가고 부산에도 갈 예정이에요.

Will your close friends near or at your age read your diary? Then, you may use 해체 as well:

  • 어제 친구와 영화관에 갔어.
  • 내일은 학교에 가.
  • 다음 주에는 서울에도 가고 부산에도 갈 예정이야.
  • Thank you for this thorough response. Watched a video called How to write a Korean diary at youtube.com/watch?v=P2KosOZoTfU . It seems to agree with the most common style you mentioned, namely 일기체.
    – rajah9
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 12:37
  • 일기체 uses a selection of verb forms from what Korean linguists would call 해라체.
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 12:56
  • @Michaelyus, thank you explaining the somewhat complex relationship between speaker, listener, and referent, which you explained at linguistics.stackexchange.com/a/20161/225 .
    – rajah9
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 13:37

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