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제 vs 내 vs 우리 | why do Koreans use 우리 instead of "my"?

안녕하세요 readers! It's Koreanstudyjunkie here~

You may have noticed that Korean speakers sometimes use the word, "우리” instead of "제” or other words for "my".



In most circumstances using "my" is good! There are a couple different ways to say it.

제 - 저의 = My (formal/casual)

내 - 나의 = My (informal)

네 (pronounced as 니) = Your (informal)

당신의 = Your (formal)

When claiming an object as your own:

가방 - my bag

제 자전거 - my bike

내 신발 - my shoes

내 침대 - my bed

When claiming non family-related individuals that only YOU "have":

제 친구 - my friend(s)

내 친구 - my friend(s)

제 선생님 - my teacher

If you have a pet, that is yours alone:

제 강아지 - my puppy

내 고양이 - my cat

Claiming an apartment or home that ONLY YOU live in:

제 아파트 - my apartment

내 집 - my house

In Summary, when you and you ALONE are in "possession" of something or someone, you can use "my".


Once it's not just yours, you have to upgrade to ”“우리”. While 우리 is usually translated as "we" or "us", It will start to be translated "my" as well.

When referring to family members:

우리 엄마 - my mom

  • even as an only child with no siblings, you would use this!

우리 오빠/형 - my older brother

우리 할아버지 - my grandfather

우리 가족 - my family

우리 부모(님) - my parents

When referring to a place that you and at least one other person lives in:

우리 집 - my house

우리 아파트 - my apartment

When you and another person have “possession”:

우리 선생님 - my teacher , our teacher

  • for example, you and your friend have the same class with the same teacher. in this conversation you may be talking to a third person who is an outsider, so you use 우리.

우리 강아지 - my dog , our dog

Cultural Notes:

1). Even when talking about your spouse to others, you use 우리. It may seem weird, but yep!

우리 아내 - my wife

우리 와이프 - my wife

우리 남편 - my husband

우리 부부

2). Differently to the other things mentioned before.. Sometimes 우리 is used in a kind of "endearing" way when referring to a person that you and others know.

우리 김 - (our) Kim

우리 지민 - (our) Jimin

What makes it "my" and not "ours"?

It's just the context! If you want to say "my house", but you live with your parents, you'll use 우리. If you want to say "our house", you still use 우리. A lot of times the context of the full conversation will let you understand whether they want to say "my" or "our".

At the end of the day, It doesn't matter much, because the meaning will still reach the other person! But usually you'll know either way that this person with another person either owns something, lives with them, knows the other person, is family related, etc.


That's all for this post! If you scroll down, you'll see a few posts that I picked out just for you. They are similar to this post and will build upon your knowledge.

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