How To Say Mom In Korean (with Audio!)

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This guide explores the nuances of addressing mothers in Korean, a language known for its respect-oriented honorifics and varying levels of politeness.

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The Korean language distinguishes between casual and respectful terms for mother. “엄마” (eomma) is used casually, akin to “Mom” in English, while “어머니” (eomeoni) is the respectful term, equivalent to “Mother.”

Basic Terms for Mom in Korean

When you want to address your mother in Korean, or refer to someone else’s mother, there are basic terms that are commonly used, depending on the context and level of formality.

Informal and Affectionate:

  • 엄마 (eomma): This is akin to saying “mom” or “mommy” and is used in casual settings. It’s the term you would typically use when calling your mother or talking about her in an affectionate way.

Polite and Respectful:

  • 어머니 (eomeoni): When in a formal setting or out of respect, this is the term to use. It’s equivalent to the English “mother” and is appropriate when you’re talking about someone’s mother in a respectful manner or addressing your own mother more formally.

Very Formal and Honorific:

  • 어머님 (eomeonim): This is a very formal and respectful term, often used when you want to show a high level of respect. It adds the honorific suffix -님 (nim) to the word for mother, elevating the term’s level of respect.

Here’s how you can use these terms in a sentence:

  • 엄마, 사랑해 (eomma, saranghae): “Mom, I love you,” for a casual and affectionate expression.
  • 어머니, 안녕하세요? (eomeoni, annyeonghaseyo?): “Mother, how are you?” for a polite inquiry.
  • 어머님, 감사합니다 (eomeonim, gamsahamnida): “Thank you, Madam,” for a formal show of gratitude.

Remember, the context in which you use these terms is just as important as the words themselves to convey the right level of politeness and respect in Korean culture.

Formal and Informal Expressions

When communicating in Korean, the level of formality you choose is important, especially when referring to a family member such as your mother. There are specific terms that are used in casual settings and those reserved for more formal occasions.

Formal Term for Mother

In formal situations, when you wish to show a high level of respect, the term for “mother” is 어머니 (eomeoni). This expression is appropriate in contexts such as speaking in public, talking to someone older than you, or in professional settings.

Table: Formal Addressing in Korean

어머니eomeoniSpeaking to or about one’s mother with respect

Informal Term for Mother

With close friends, family, or in less formal situations, you can refer to your mother as 엄마 (eomma). This expression conveys warmth and familiarity, suitable for casual conversations.

Table: Informal Addressing in Korean

엄마eommaCasual or intimate conversations

Remember, your choice of formal or informal terms will reflect your relationship to the person you’re speaking to or about, as well as the level of respect you intend to convey.

Cultural Context of Addressing Mothers

In the Korean language, the way you address your mother varies significantly depending on the context and the level of respect required by the situation. Use of appropriate terms conveys not only familial affection but also societal values regarding filial piety and respect.

Usage in Family Settings

In a family context, you’ll typically use 엄마 (eomma) when calling your mother, which translates to “mom.” It’s a casual and intimate term used when talking directly to your mother, or when discussing her within the family. However, when referring to your mother in a more respectful tone, especially in the presence of others, the term 어머니 (eomeoni) is preferred. These terms emphasize the closeness and the informal setting of a family.

  • Casual: 엄마 (eomma) – “Mom”
  • Respectful: 어머니 (eomeoni) – “Mother”

Usage in Social Settings

In more formal or social settings, 어머님 (eomeonim) is used to show a high level of respect towards somebody else’s mother. This could be during a formal event, when addressing someone’s mother whom you’re not closely acquainted with, or when referring to your own mother in formal conversations. Additionally, in Korean culture, it’s common to use 우리 (uri) meaning “our” instead of “my” when talking about family members, including your mother, to others, expressing inclusiveness and a collective family identity.

  • Formal (Others’ mother): 어머님 (eomeonim) – “Mother” with respect
  • Formal (Your mother to others): 우리 어머니 (uri eomeoni) – “Our mother”

Remember to adjust your language based on the setting to show the proper respect and to adhere to Korean cultural norms.

Common Phrases Involving the Word ‘Mom’

In Korean, several phrases incorporate the word for ‘mom’, which vary based on the level of formality required in the conversation. Here’s a guide to help you understand when and how to use them.

Informal and Endearing

  • 우리 엄마 (uri eomma): This translates to ‘our mom’ and is used informally, often when talking about your mom with close friends or in casual settings.


  • 어머니 (eomeoni): You can use this term in most general situations. It’s respectful yet not overly formal.


  • 어머님 (eomeonim): Use this when you need to be more formal or respectful, for example, when addressing someone else’s mother.
Phrase in KoreanPronunciationSituationEnglish Equivalent
우리 엄마uri eommaInformalOur mom / My mom
어머님eomeonimFormalMother (formal)

When wanting to include ‘mom’ in a sentence or when referencing your mom in conversation, your choice of term can set the tone. 

If you’re expressing gratitude, for example, 어머니께 감사드립니다 (eomeonikke gamsadeurimnida) means “Thank you, mother.” If you’re leaving the house, you might say 어머니, 나갑니다 (eomeoni, nagamnida), which means “Mom, I’m going out.”

Understanding these nuances is not only respectful but also an important aspect of Korean language and culture.

Final Thoughts

In Korean, “mom” is expressed as “엄마” (eomma) in casual speech, reflecting a close, familial bond, and “어머니” (eomeoni) in formal contexts, denoting respect and reverence. These terms exemplify the intricate levels of respect and intimacy inherent in Korean family dynamics and language structure.

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