How To Say What Something or Someone Is in Korean
Key Points &
이다 is a verb that means ‘to be’ and is used to identify things.
It has two informal-polite style forms: 예요 [eh-yo] and 이에요 [ee-eh-yo]:
예요 immediately follows a noun that ends in a vowel.
Examples with vowel-ending nouns: 커피 coffee / 티 tea / 컴퓨터 computer
커피예요 : It’s coffee
티예요 : It’s tea
컴퓨터예요 : It’s a computer
이에요 immediately follows a noun that ends with a consonant.
Examples for consonant-ending nouns: 아이스크림 ice cream / 펜 pen / 랩탑 laptop
아이스크림이에요 : It’s ice cream
펜이에요 : It’s a pen
랩탑이에요 : It’s a laptop
The terms ‘vowel-ending’ and ‘consonant-ending’ refer to the Korean spelling, not the English spelling. For example, ‘BTS’ is a consonant-ending in English, but ‘BTS’ is spelled ‘비티에스’ in Korean, and it ends with a Korean vowel, ‘ㅡ'
(noun ending in a vowel)+예요 [eh-yo] : It’s (noun)
(noun ending in a consonant)+이에요 [ee-eh-yo] : It’s (noun)
Directions: Assume the role in the situation and respond in Korean using one of the 이다 verb forms learned in this episode.
Given : 요가 yoga / 비타민 vitamin / 서울 Seoul / 캘리포니아 California / 햄버거 hamburger / 베이글 bagel / New York 뉴욕
1. You’ve been going to Yoga class for some time now. Your colleague asks if it’s a plates class you’re taking.
2. You’re taking vitamins after lunch with your colleague, who asks if it’s cold medicine.
3. On your desk at the office, you have a photo of your parents that you took when they visited Seoul last year. A new colleague of yours asks if the place in the photo is Tokyo.
4. On your desk at the office, you have a photo of you and your friends that was taken in California. A new colleague of yours asks if the place in the photo is Hawaii.
5. On your desk at the office, you have a photo of you and your friends that was taken in New York. A new colleague of yours asks if the place in the photo is Beijing.
6. In the morning at the office, you’re unwrapping a bagel that you brought for breakfast. Your colleague walks in and asks what it is that you’re unwrapping.
7. At the company lounge during lunch hour, you’re unwrapping a hamburger when your colleague walks in and asks what it is that you’re unwrapping.
Hello! This is KAY from EK.com
In this episode, you’ll learn how to say what something or someone is.
Just remember these two words:
One more time 예요 and 이에요
Simply add one of these two verb forms to the noun you’re trying to identify.
For example, let’s do this with 5 things and tell what each item is. They all end with a vowel when written in 한글, which is the name of the Korean writing system. ...
B/c they end with a vowel, you will add 예요. not 이에요
So the first one 예요, not the other one 이에요.
So five things.
커피 for coffee / 티 for tea / 컴퓨터 computer / 요가 yoga / 비티에스 BTS (This example is for all BTS fans out there! OK, now back to our lesson to the 1st example. )
커피 plus 예요; combine them together, we have 커피예요, Repeat after me: 커피예요 커피예요 커피예요
You want to say it’s tea. You’d say in Korean, 티예요 티예요 티예요.
You want to say it's a computer. Maybe something came in a box with nothing written on the box. Someone asks, what it is and you know it’s a computer. You’d say, 컴퓨터예요. 컴퓨터예요 컴퓨터예요
Imagine yourself at a gym and someone passes by looking into the group exercise room and asks what the class is for, wondering if it is yoga, pilates, or something else. You know it’s a yoga class, so you’d say: 요가예요. 요가예요. 요가예요
Imagine yourself at a gym and someone passes by looking into the group exercise room and asks what the class is for, wondering if it is yoga, pilates, or something else. You know it’s yoga. You can let the person know, 요가예요. You want to say it's a computer. Maybe something came in a box with nothing written on the box. Someone asks, what is it and you know it’s a computer. You’d say, 컴퓨터예요.
You want to say it's a computer. Maybe something came in a box with nothing written on the box. Someone asks, what is it and you know it’s a computer. You’d say, 컴퓨터예요.
You’d say in Korean, 티예요 티예요
예요, 티, 티예요.
Let’s do the second set also with 5 items and tell what each item is. What they have in common is that when written in 한글, they all end with a consonant. B/c they end with a consonant, we’d have to add 이에요.
Ice cream / bagel / pen / laptop / presentation
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OK, before I let you go, let’s do some practice!
Looking at a US map, pointing at the long state on the far left,
California 캘리포니아 : It’s California.
[kel-li-po-ni-a e-yo] 캘리포니아 + 예요
You just got a hamburger from MacDonald, holding it in your bag, and your colleague is wondering what you want. What would you say?
Hamburger 햄버거: It’s a hamburger.
[ham-beo-geo e-yo] 햄버거 + 예요
You finished your hamburger. You took out a vitamin to take it. Your nosy colleague asks you what you’re taking. What would you say?
Vitamin 비타민: It’s vitamin.
[bi-ta-min i-e-yo] 비타민 + 이에요
Your colleague asks if the photo you’re looking at on your computer is New York. It’s actually a photo of Seoul. What would you tell him?
Seoul 서울: It’s Seoul.
[seo-ool i-e-yo] 서울 + 이에요
You got a new iPhone and got a nice case with it. The colleague asks if it’s a Samsung phone. What would you tell him?
iPhone 아이폰: It’s an iPhone.
[a-i-pon i-e-yo] 아이폰 + 이에요
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Now, here’s homework for you: After you finish this lesson today, when you get a chance, do these 2 activities to reinforce the key lesson point of today’s episode, 예요 and 이에요:
Imagine a situation where you are showing your Korean colleague some photos of your country. You can kindly tell him/her (let’s say…) some of the famous landmarks in the photos, using N예요 and N이에요.!
Imagine a situation where you’re looking at a magazine with a bunch of photos of celebrities taken when they were young. Your colleague doesn’t have a clue who each person is but you DO! You can kindly tell your colleague who is in each photo, using N예요 and N이에요.!
If you’d like to go further and study more in-depth about today’s lesson, especially in terms of grammar, please go to our website and search “Verb of Identification.” or 이다. It’ll give you a more in-depth explanation and more examples.
OK, That’s it for this episode!
안녕! 다음 에피소드에서 만나요!
See you in the next episode!