The intimate speech level is in general used in the following situations: by adults when addressing children, by parents when addressing their kids, by children when addressing their peers, and by adult friends when addressing their childhood friends (or friends whose relationships are close enough to switch to the intimate level from the polite level).
The intimate speech level ending is ~어/아. The choice of ~어 or ~아 is the same with that of the polite speech level ending ~어요/아요. ~아 is used after a stem that ends in a bright vowel, 오 or 아, while ~어 is used with the stem that ends in any other vowels. Consider the following examples:
As seen above, one can generate the intimate speech level from the polite speech level, simply by removing 요. One exception is that the copula 이다/아니다 takes slightly different forms: 이다 instead of 이에, and 아니야 instead of 아니에.
Just like the polite speech level ending ~어요/아요, the intimate speech level ending ~어/아 is used for all sentence types: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and propositive. For instance, consider the following:
Koreans use contextual elements as well as intonation to figure out what intimate speech level ending ~어/아 is used for a specific sentence type.
The plain speech level
The plain speech level ending sounds more blunt and direct than other speech levels: deferential, polite, and intimate. The plain speech level is primarily used in the following three contexts: When one addresses a child, his/her childhood friends, or younger siblings; when the speaker talks to himself/herself or wants to draw the listener’s attention to information that is noteworthy or provoking; when one writes.
Unlike the intimate and the polite speech levels that use the same endings for different sentence types, the plain speech level has different endings for different sentence types, as shown below.
~는/ㄴ다 (for verb stems)
~다 (for adjective and copula stems)
~었/았다 (for all predicate stems in the past tense)
~니/(으)냐? (for all predicate stems)
~었/았니/(으)냐? (for all predicate stems in the past tense)
Imperative (only for verb stems)
~아라 (after a stem that ends in 오 or 아)
~어라 (after a stem that ends in any other vowels)
Propositive (only for verb stems)
Note that the plain speech level imperative ending ~어라/아라 and propositive ending ~자 are used only for verb stems, and they are not conjugated for the tense.
* Click to read related posts.
Grammar for Intermediates
Endings of Sentences
The Deferential Speech Level
The Polite Speech Level
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