See also:


Etymology 1Edit

First widely attested in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels intended for popular consumption. Stems from a contraction of (-i-o, it is that...), from (-i-, to be, copula) + (-o, declarative verbal suffix of the semi-formal speech level).[1][2] The suffix (-o) itself goes back to Middle Korean ᅀᆞᇦ〯 (-zǒW-, object honorific verbal suffix), though the exact derivation is unclear, and ultimately to Old Korean (*SOLP-, to inform a superior).[3]


Revised Romanization?yo/yeo
Revised Romanization (translit.)?yo/yeo
Yale Romanization?yo/ye



  1. A particle attached to intimate-style verbs and adjectives to form the polite style, the usual speech level for polite but not extremely formal conversation, e.g. by a student to a teacher, a child to a parent, or between colleagues.
    .Hae-yo.Let's do it.
    도와드리지.Je-ga dowa-deuriji-yo.I can give you a hand.
Usage notesEdit
  • (-yo) is the traditional, prescriptive pronunciation; (-yeo) is a common alternative pronunciation by young South Koreans.
  • For the copula 이다 (-ida, to be) and 아니다 (anida, to not be), the form is irregularly 에요 (-i-eyo).
  • For the honorific 으시 (-eusi-), the form is irregularly 으세요 (-euseyo).
  • In the polite style, there is no explicit marker to distinguish between indicative, interrogative, imperative, and hortative moods. The distinction is made only by pitch in speech (e.g. rising pitch for questions), and by punctuation in writing.
Alternative formsEdit
  • (-yeo)spelling pronunciation of modern Seoul, used for "cutesy" effect
  • (-yu)Chungcheong dialect, often considered the archetypal "dialectal" pronunciation
  • (-ye)Gyeongsang dialect

Etymology 2Edit

See (-so). The semivowel is introduced to break hiatus.



  1. Gyeongsang and Jeolla dialect form of (-o, post-vowel allomorph of (-so, semi-formal style sentence-final suffix)).


  1. ^ 고광무 (2000), “상대높임의 조사 '요'와 '(이)ㅂ쇼'의 기원과 형성 과정 [The origin and formative process of the addressee honorific particle -yo and -(i)psyo]”, in Gugeohak, volume 36, pages 259—282
  2. ^ 허재영 (2008), “높임의 조사 '요'의 문법화 [The grammaticalization of the honoring particle -yo]”, in Hanmal yeon'gu, volume 23, pages 473—493
  3. ^ 이승희 (2012), “명령형 종결어미의 역사적 변화 [The historical transformation of imperative sentence-final suffixes]”, in Gugeosa yeon'gu, volume 14, pages 7—28