I am just confused with the role of 요 in the sentence, does removing it makes it informal?


나는 사과를 샀어.

저는 사과를 샀어요.

I assume both of the sentence is correct?

Thank you!

  • 1
    Removing 요 from the second sentence makes it sound awkward because it has 저. There are the three factors for Korean honorific speech: (a) subject honorification, (b) object exaltation, and (c) speech styles (or addressee honorification). Both 저 and 요 are used for addressee honorification. – Klmo Jun 8 '20 at 5:46

Even with the '요', "저는 사과를 샀어요" wouldn't necessarily be seen as formal, but certainly removing the '요' makes the sentence even less formal/polite.

A simple way to think of '요' is that it adds a basic level of politeness to a sentence (or even to a single word utterance). It isn't necessary to add '요' to more explicitly formal endings though - for example, '저는 사과를 샀습니다' is a formal form and doesn't need a '요' on the end.


Just removing '요' wouldn't necessarily produce a natural sentence. Usually, the level of formality is consistent within a sentence. That means, in most complete sentences, you can find more than one formal words. If you want to make it informal, you should drop '요' and replace all other formal words in the sentence. In your example, dropping '요' from "저는 사과를 샀어요" results in "저는 사과를 샀어", which is awkward; you also need to replace '저' with '나'.


enter image description here

First, I want to make clear that polite/impolite talk and formal/informal talk are independent concepts in Korean. A sentence can be polite but informal or impolite but formal.

A sentence ends with 해요 is quite polite, but it is informal. It is not recommended to be used in formal speech such as keynote speeches, debates, etc.

Removing -요 from the sentence and replacing honorific pronouns make sentence impolite, but the sentence is already informal without removing -요.

The table I attached shows the category of suffices of Korean. In everyday life, it is recommended to use informal suffices because it sounds friendly and kind. Formal suffices are used in texts or in formal speeches.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.