Examples of Dropping Formalities #2

Part 1 can be found here ~

Person 1

Female, 20

So I met this girl on Tandem. She messaged me super friendly and we talked for 2 hours before I went to bed and then for 5 or so hours the next morning. She had taken a nap and didn’t go to bed until like 3am Korean time. Anyway she never like…..said we could drop formalities. She just kind of did…..

So I asked if I could drop words, just to confirm. I continued replying in formal speech while waiting for her answer…..which never came.

So then I dropped formalities as well and we have since continued in 반말.

She started 반말 in the morning; so after 2ish hours of conversation

Person 2

Female, 22

So I’ve probably been talking to her for about 2 weeks, but we are never on at the same time so we send like….2 messages each per day. Anyway this was her take on 반말:

To which I replied this:

To which she replied that ^

But guys, that’s just HER personal opinion. A lot of us know that many of the younger generation in Korea are more relaxed about that kind of thing, and can have some tendencies that are more suited to a western culture. But even though SOME people are like that, it doesn’t mean that ALL people are. It’s still rude to address someone informally if you don’t know them. WE ARE NOT KOREANS. THIS IS NOT OUR CULTURE. We do not fully understand and and we need to be respectful of it and ignoring the existence of 존댓말 is not respect. I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to err on the side of caution and ALWAYS use formalities unless you have asked the other person if it is alright to drop them.

Person 3

female, 18

So I actually talked about her in Part 1 of my ‘dropping formalities’ series. This is my friend’s cousin; her name is 동회.

An overview of the situation:

A while ago I met up with her and my friend and my friend’s sister and was going to speak formally since I don’t know them, but ended up dropping formalities, as my friend was indicating that I could. (I’m older than both the sister and 동회)

We made a group chat and no one REALLY texted it, and I didn’t realize that 동회 had added me on kakao so I didn’t add her back for two weeks :sweat_smile:

I added her, apologized, she replied and was like ‘awww you’re fine!’

After 2 weeks and because we’d only met once I wanted to be sure I wasn’t being rude so I spoke formally in the text. She didn’t correct it or anything, and I had also messaged our gc, where she replied to everyone informally.

So next time I messaged her I asked if I could drop words and her reply was ‘of course! You’re the 언니 so you can drop words’.

Even though I always use formals when I don’t known people, I seem to be encountering a lot of Koreans who tell me that it is ok to drop formalities when I’m older. But I wouldn’t want to do so without asking, because every language exchange partner I’ve had has used formal speech even when they’re older than me. And having said that, I wouldn’t ask to drop formalities just because I’m older. I would wait until I had conversed with the person at least a few times.


I just like sharing this information in hopes that it helps clear things up for those who find formalities intimidating. Even though I’ve been told that I can drop formalities because I’m older, I like to at least start formally. That’s the advice my friend gave me; she said that she always speaks formally unless someone is significantly younger. I prefer to take her advice and do the same unless explicitly told otherwise. The preference in relation to formalities really depends on the Korean, so it’s best just to start formally and feel it out.

Good luck with formalities! Go forth, be polite, and don’t offend! Y’all got this; 화이팅

~ Hannah

Published by Hannah & Shelbi

We are just 2 students who wish to share the love and joy of learning language through lesson posts and translations! We are doing this for fun, based on our experience and questions we ask native speakers. We are not fluent! Just passionate  ~ Hannah, Shelbi, and Jordan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: