How to Say “Yesterday” in Korean: Formal and Informal Ways

Hello there! If you’re looking to learn the word for “yesterday” in Korean, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways to express this concept, focusing on mainland Korean. So, let’s dive right in!

The Formal Way

In formal situations or when speaking with someone older or of higher status, Koreans commonly use the word “어제” (eoje) to mean “yesterday.” This term is widely understood throughout the country and is appropriate for most formal conversations.

Here are a few examples of how to use “어제” in a sentence:

Example 1: 어제 날씨가 좋았어요. (Eoje nalssi-ga joh-asseo-yo.)
Translation: The weather was good yesterday. Example 2: 어제의 식당은 너무 시끄러웠어요. (Eoje-ui sikdang-eun neomu sikkeureowosseo-yo.)
Translation: The restaurant yesterday was too noisy.

The Informal Way

When speaking with friends, peers, or in less formal circumstances, you can use the term “어제” (eoje) in a slightly altered form. The informal way to say “yesterday” is “어제요” (eoje-yo).

Here are a couple of examples of how to use “어제요” in informal conversations:

Example 1: 어제요 파티에서 재밌었어! (Eoje-yo pati-eseo jaemisseosseo!)
Translation: Yesterday’s party was fun! Example 2: 어제요는 뭐 했어? (Eoje-yo-neun mwo haesseo?)
Translation: What did you do yesterday?

Tips and Cultural Insights

To further enhance your understanding of using “yesterday” in Korean, here are a few tips and cultural insights:

1. Verb Endings:

In Korean, verbs have different endings depending on the formality level you wish to convey. While “어제” remains constant, the verb endings can change in formal and informal speech. The examples provided above can help you understand these differences.

2. Tense Markers:

In Korean, tense markers indicate the tense of a verb. To express the past tense, the marker “ㅆ” (ss) is often used. For instance, “했어요” (haess-eo-yo) means “did” or “was,” with “ㅆ” indicating past tense. Keep this in mind while constructing sentences about events that occurred yesterday.

3. Casual Conversations:

In casual conversations, when speaking with close friends or family members, you can even drop the verb at the end of the sentence for brevity. For example, “어제 영화 봤어!” (Eoje yeonghwa bwass-eo!) means “I watched a movie yesterday.”


Congratulations! You now know how to say “yesterday” in Korean. Remember to use “어제” (eoje) in formal situations and “어제요” (eoje-yo) when speaking informally. Pay attention to the different verb endings and tense markers to express past events accurately. Practice using these words in context, and you’ll quickly become comfortable with this essential Korean term.

Happy learning! 화이팅! (Hwaiting!)

Written by Gracie Hailey

안녕하세요! I'm Gracie, your go-to girl for all things Korean language. Experiencing cultures through their languages is my biggest passion. When not writing in-depth guides on Korean phrases such as "I am American" or "I love you, sister", you can find me sipping iced coffee and taking photographs at the local dog park - I have quite the soft spot for guinea pigs and chimpanzees as well. There's nothing more magical than the word 'Bismillah' pronounced perfectly in different languages! Ready to plunge into this compelling world of Korean phrases? 고고씽 (Go-Go-Ssing!)!

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