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물고기 vs 생선 | How to say "fish" in Korean

안녕하세요! It's Koreanstudyjunkie. In this lesson, we're gonna quickly cover how to say "fish" in Korean the proper way.


This word can actually be broken down into 2 words. 물 meaning water and 고기 meaning meat.

It sounds funny, but literally "water meat" is fish in Korean. This kind of fish is the one that is alive and swimming freely in the water.

A more technical translation: an underwater vertebrate that has gills, fins and scales.

Example Sentences:

[Proverb] 물고기는 물을 떠나 살 수 없어요.

A fish can't live out of the water.

이 강에는 물고기가 많아요.

This river has many fish.


This word doesn't have some fun meaning like the last one, but since it is also "fish" it confuses many people. 생 is an affix meaning "not cooked"

This type is raw, fresh fish that has just been caught for food.

Example Sentences:

생선은 너무 오래 구워 너무 파삭했어요.

The fish was overdone and very dry.

그들은 바다에서 생선을 잡고 있어요.

They are catching fish in the sea.

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