가: 영화가 생각보다 재미있네요. 여양 씨는 어땠어요?
That movie was better than I thought it was going to be. What did you think of it, Yeoyang?
나: 아주 재미있었소. 하하하. 영화속 말투로 하니까 재미 있네요.
It was very interesting. Ha-ha. It’s fun to speak the way they did in the movie.
가: 그럼 우리 영화 속 주인공들처럼 말해 볼까요? 지금 몇 시오? 배가 고프니 식사하러 갑시다.
Then shall we talk like the stars in the movie did? What time is it now? I’m hungry, so let’s go to get something to eat.
나: 나는 잠깐 화장실에 갔다 오겠소. 그동안 무엇을 드실지 생각하고 계시오.
I’m going to the restroom. In the meantime, think about what you want to eat.
This form of honorifics is used when the speaker wants to speak in a slightly polite way to the hearer either because the hearer is of a similar age or younger than the speaker or because they don’t know each other well or aren’t very close. While it is sometimes used among older individuals in conversation, it is mainly used in written language such as signs and public notices, in which case the imperative form is used.
1. When a verb stem does not have a final consonant, -오 is used while -소 (and sometimes -[으]오) is used when there is a final consonant.
가: 어디에 가오? 가: 무엇을 하오?
Where are you going? What are you doing?
나: 학교에 가오. 나: 책을 읽소/읽으오.
I’m going to school. I’m reading a book.
2. In most cases, the pronoun -나 is used to refer to the speaker himself/herself while 당신 is used to refer to the other person.
나는 제주도 사람이오. 당신은 어디에서 왔소?
I’m from Jeju Island. Where did you come from?
실례지만, 당신은 누구시오?
Excuse me, but who are you?
3. In spoken language, -오 is often pronounced -우.
지금 어디에 가는 길이우?
Where are you going?
점심시간이 지났는데 식사는 했우?
It’s after lunchtime, so have you eaten?
4. The imperative form of this style is often used in written language such as signs and public notices.
사진을 찍지 마시오.
No photographs. (Do not take photographs.)
A softer imperative form can be made by adding the adjective exclamatory form 구려 to verb stems.
• 늦었으니 어서 가구려. (동사의 명령문)
• 산이 참 아름답구려. (형용사의 감탄문)
• 참 빨리 가는구려. (동사의 감탄문)