Do NOT tell someone you’re excited – mistakes in Korean

missInterpretation header made in Photoshop 11 by creator


I seem to have a propensity for making awful mistakes while learning Korean. If you think of either an inappropriate or an extremely simple, everybody-knows-this word, I’ve probably already used it accidentally in a conversation with a language partner. The mistake I’m focusing on in this post is one that I must blame entirely on my lazy Google Translate ways. I have brought dishonor on my language-learning.

In one of my early conversations with an italki language buddy on Kakaotalk, we were discussing college. He told me that studying in college would help my Korean. I replied with,

“그죠? ^_^ 흥분해요~”

“Right? I’m excited*~”

I hadn’t already known the word for ‘to be excited,’ so in my haste to reply, I had grabbed the phrase from Google Translate. If I’d gone to Naver‘s online dictionary or used my Naver app for it, maybe I’d have already known what he was about to say.

“haha 흥분해요 usually means sexually excited.”

If you search 흥분 in Naver’s dictionary, you discover that not only does the word have several usages meaning excitement, agitation, upset, to be thrilled, but it also turns up as parts of phrases that mean to arouse and to stimulate.

Talk about being an awkward conversationalist. You’re jealous of my mistake-making abilities, aren’t you? Have you made any awkward mistakes while learning a language? Or do you know how to properly tell someone in Korean that you’re excited (to hear good news, to do something fun, to try something new)? Please leave a comment!



16 thoughts on “Do NOT tell someone you’re excited – mistakes in Korean

  1. Pingback: Want to be my 친구? (how to say ‘friend’ in Korean) | my {seoul} dream

    • We, fangirls, are prone to use 흥분하다 since it’s one of the result that naver dictionary will give you when you enter ‘excited’ O.o I use to often say “I’m 흥분해요 to see Kim Sun Ah’s new drama”


    • ㅋㅋ 맞아요~ it’s so true! I’ve taken to using 신나다 as a safer alternative for being excited about something. And there’s always something to be excited about so…knowing the proper phrase is very important ㅎㅎ


  2. You can add me to the list of the victims of 흥분하다 as well!!!
    My friend was really diplomatic about it, though. His reply:
    “내일 흥분해요” (x) —> 내일 기대돼요 (ㅇ) : better! ;)”


  3. Pingback: Pay tribute to me! Mistakes in Korean | my {seoul} dream

  4. Pingback: Reflecting on a year of translation | my {seoul} dream

  5. Along these lines…

    A long itme ago, I lived in Korea with a roommate who was also studying Korean. We would study one point from a grammar book and a list of vocabulary in the morning and then go out and try to use them during the day. This day, among other words, we had learned “잡지 magazine.”

    To practice this word, we stepped into a book store that we happened past and turned to the store keeper to ask where he kept his magazines. Unfortunately, this word was not firmly cemented in my memory yet. So I started with “아저쌔, 자지 어디 있어요?” And my friend, trusting my memory of the word to be correct while doubting his own, chimed in with, “네, 자지 보고 싶어요.”

    아저씨 왈: “uhhhhhhhhhhh…”


    • Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious! But no doubt neither of you will ever, EVER forget which word is which. And you both had a great approach to active language learning, so you’re bound to have good stories of the adventures that occurred from trying to speak proper Korean 🙂


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