Korean Colors

    As well as having two sets of numbers, Korean also uses two sets of colors, one being the native Korean set, the other being derived from Chinese characters hanja 한자.  깔색 (or just ) means color in Korean. Dozens of Korean words represent similar colors but express the different impression of colors.  The color base is used in combination with a noun like 색 (color - sino-korean word), or 빛 (shade, hue, tint - native word).When we are naming the colors, Koreans usually attach 색 at the end of the color word  (Ex: 연필이 노란색이에요  = the pencil  is yellow). The following Korean words about color are the most neutral and normal words.


      When we are using them as adjectives, for Native-Korean colors is not necessary to add the word  색 (ex: 노란 연필= the yellow pencil

      As you will find  파란 and 푸른 (from 푸르다) can mean blue or green, depending on the context.

파란 / 푸른 하늘 = the blue sky

파란 / 푸른 잔디 = the green grass

      Obviously the sky is blue and the grass is green, so it’s not hard to figure out which color is mentioned.

     풀빛 means grass light. 



오렌지색 (from english) =  orange

핑크색,  분홍색 = pink

은색 =  silver

금색 = gold

갈색 =  brown

밤색 =  chestnut

남색 = indigo

하늘색 = sky blue


      Verbs of color belong to “ㅎ-Dropping Verbs”. The behavior of these ㅎ-dropping bases is irregular but they are following the rules below.

1.    If the verb ending begins with (으)ㄴ/ㅁ/ㅅ/ㄹ, ignore the (으), drop the ㅎ and treat the base like a vowel base.

까맣 + (으)ㄴ             → 까만 (the black NOUN)

까맣 + (으)면             → 까마면 (If is black...)

까맣 + (으)ㄹ 까요? → 까말까요? (I wonder if it’s black...)

까맣 + (으)세요        → 까마세요 (Is black ...– honorific)

2.    In all other cases, treat these bases as regular consonant base (ex: 까맣지만 It’s black, but... ; 까맣고 It’s black and...; 까맣네요! Oh, it’s black! ; etc.)

The conjugation in present tense is:

까맣다 ⇒ 까매요 = Is black.

파랗다 ⇒ 파래요  = Is blue.

빨갛다 ⇒  빨개요 = Is red.

노랗다 ⇒  노래요 = Is yellow.

하얗다 ⇒ 하얘요 = Is white.

*Some other irregular verbs who follow the “ㅎ-dropping verbs” rule are:  이렇다 (to be like this), 그렇다 (to be like that), 저렇다 (to be like that),  어떻다 (to be how?).


백인 = white person

흑인 = black person

흑백필름 =  black & white film

적색신호 =  red light signal

청바지 = blue jeans

PS: I know it's a little difficult but in time I promise you'll get used to them. wink


Written and translated by: 이사벨

Source: Elementary Korean by Ross King, Ph.D Jae-Hoon Yeon;  learnkoreanlanguage.com;  omniglot.com;  wikibooks.com;  koreanwikiproject.com

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