Guide: How to Say “Need” in Korean

Learning how to express the concept of “need” in Korean is essential, as it allows you to communicate your wants and requirements effectively. Whether you are a beginner or have some knowledge of the language, this comprehensive guide will provide you with various ways to express “need” in Korean, taking into account both formal and informal situations. Let’s dive in!

1. Formal Ways to Say “Need” in Korean

Formal language is used when speaking to people of higher social status, strangers, or in professional settings. Here are some phrases you can use to express “need” formally:

1.1 Formal Verb – 필요하다 (pil-yo-ha-da)

The most standard way to say “need” in Korean is by using the verb “필요하다.” It can be used in various situations and is applicable to both objects and actions. To form a sentence, follow this pattern:

Subject + 이/가 필요하다 (i/ga pil-yo-ha-da)

For example:

  • 나는 물이 필요합니다 (na-neun mul-i pil-yo-ham-ni-da) – I need water.
  • 저는 가방이 필요합니다 (jeo-neun ga-bang-i pil-yo-ham-ni-da) – I need a bag.
  • 우리는 도움이 필요합니다 (u-ri-neun do-um-i pil-yo-ham-ni-da) – We need help.

1.2 Formal Noun – 필요 (pil-yo)

Another formal way to express “need” is by using the noun “필요.” It is often used when describing necessities or requirements. This noun can be followed by particles to indicate possession:

Subject + (이/가) 필요해요 (i/ga pil-yo-hae-yo)

For example:

  • 저는 돈이 필요해요 (jeo-neun don-i pil-yo-hae-yo) – I need money.
  • 이 기능은 사용자의 요구사항에 따라 필요합니다 (i gi-neung-eun sa-yong-ja-eui yo-gu-sa-ham-e da-ra pil-yo-ham-ni-da) – This feature is needed based on user requirements.
  • 그들은 돕기 위해 여러 가지 자원이 필요해요 (geu-deul-eun dob-gi wi-hae yeo-reo ga-ji ja-won-i pil-yo-hae-yo) – They need various resources to help.

2. Informal Ways to Say “Need” in Korean

Informal language is used when speaking with close friends, family, or people of equal or lower social status. Below are informal ways to express “need” in Korean:

2.1 Informal Verb – 필요해 (pil-yo-hae)

When speaking informally, you can use the verb “필요해” to convey “need.” This is more commonly used in casual conversations or when talking to friends:

Subject + (이/가) 필요해 (i/ga pil-yo-hae)

For example:

  • 물이 필요해 (mul-i pil-yo-hae) – I need water.
  • 배고파서 뭐 먹을 거 필요해? (bae-go-pa-seo mwo meo-geul geo pil-yo-hae) – Are you hungry? Do you need something to eat?
  • 돈 필요해 (don pil-yo-hae) – I need money.

2.2 Informal Noun – 필요해 (pil-yo-hae)

When using informal language, you can also utilize the noun “필요해” to express your needs:

Subject + (이/가) 필요해 (i/ga pil-yo-hae)

For example:

  • 뭐 필요해? (mwo pil-yo-hae) – What do you need?
  • 도움 필요해? (do-um pil-yo-hae) – Do you need help?
  • 자료가 필요해 (ja-ryo-ga pil-yo-hae) – I need the data.


Congratulations! You now have a solid understanding of how to say “need” in Korean in both formal and informal contexts. Remember to adjust your speech level based on the person you are addressing and the situation you are in. Practice these phrases regularly to enhance your language skills and confidently express your requirements in Korean. Happy learning!

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