U+B108, 너
Composition: +

Hangul Syllables

냬 ←→ 네

Korean edit

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle Korean (, you). Presumably existed in Old Korean, but cannot be ascertained because Old Korean pronouns were written with Chinese logograms that obscure the pronunciation.

It has been suggested since the 1950s that the basic Korean pronouns (na, I; me), (neo, you), and (nu, who) (> modern 누구 (nugu)) were all formed from the same etymon via ablaut, which appears to have once been an extremely productive process in Korean, at some very ancient stage.[1][2] Given the very limited data on prehistoric Korean, this hypothesis cannot be proven for sure either way.

Possibly cognate with Old Japanese (na, you, second-person singular informal pronoun); if so, generally assumed to be a Koreanic loan into Japanese, given the paucity of Ryukyuan cognates (Vovin 2010).

Pronunciation edit

Revised Romanization?neo
Revised Romanization (translit.)?neo
Yale Romanization?ne

Pronoun edit


  1. (informal) second-person singular informal pronoun; you
    Neo-reul saranghae.
    I love you.
    언제부터 담배 피우기 시작하였니?
    Neo eonje-buteo dambae piugi sijak-hayeonni?
    When did you start smoking?
    말하지 않니?
    Neo-neun wae malhaji anni?
    Why aren't you saying anything?
    아까 빨래 너는 사람 봤어?
    Neo-neun akka ppallae neoneun saram bwasseo?
    Did you see someone spreading out the laundry earlier?
Usage notes edit

A characteristic of colloquial Korean is that the use of personal pronouns such as (neo) or (gyae, he; she) implies that the person being referred to by the pronoun is of equal or lower social rank compared to the speaker. When speaking to a social superior, speakers use either a title or a word referring to the relationship between the speaker and the addressee. Thus the pronoun (neo) is permissible for one's younger brother, but one's older brother is referred to as 형(兄) (hyeong) or 오빠 (oppa), both meaning "older brother". Similarly, a freshman addresses a senior as 선배(先輩) (seonbae, upperclassman; elder student) but the senior may freely address the freshman as (neo).

Furthermore, even when speaking to an equal or inferior, (neo) is impermissible in polite or formal speech levels. In such contexts, use 자네 (jane), a title, or a personal name. 자기(自己) (jagi) or 당신(當身) (dangsin) is common in romantic contexts.

The use of (neo) in socially impermissible contexts, such as when addressing a superior, should be understood as the speaker showing contempt for the addressee.

Alternative forms edit
  • (ne)allomorph before (-ga, nominative case marker)
Related terms edit
  • (ne, your)
  • 너희 (neohui), 너희들 (neohuideul) — second-person plural informal pronoun

Etymology 2 edit

Korean numbers (edit)
[a], [b], [c] ←  3 4 5  → [a], [b]
    Native isol.: (net)
    Native attr.: (ne), (dated) (neok), (archaic) (neo)
    Sino-Korean: (sa)
    Ordinal: 넷째 (netjjae)

First attested in the Seokbo sangjeol (釋譜詳節 / 석보상절), 1447, as Middle Korean 너〯 (Yale: ). Compare (net, four).

Pronunciation edit

  • (SK Standard/Seoul) IPA(key): [nɘ(ː)]
  • Phonetic hangul: [(ː)]
    • Though still prescribed in Standard Korean, most speakers in both Koreas no longer distinguish vowel length.
Revised Romanization?neo
Revised Romanization (translit.)?neo
Yale Romanization?

Numeral edit


  1. (dated or fossilized) four (before certain classifiers)
    Synonym: (ne, more productive equivalent)
Usage notes edit

This form is found primarily with certain traditional Korean units which are not now widely used.

References edit

  1. ^ 이근수 [igeunsu] (1971) “()()()()()()()()()()()()()()으로 [Categories of semantic vowel alternation: Focusing on Middle Korean]”, in Gugeo gungmunhak, volume 54, pages 93—132
  2. ^ 이근수 [igeunsu] (1975) “Ablaut ()() [A study of ablaut]”, in Eomunnonjip, volume 10, pages 85—100

Middle Korean edit

Pronunciation edit

Pronoun edit


  1. you

Descendants edit

  • Jeju: (neu)
  • Korean: (neo)