Small Talk: Conversation Connectors

Conversational connectors are those phrases and words that you use commonly in a conversation to keep talk flowing.  As I am thinking about sentence patterns and noticing how people make conversation, I realized there are these linking pieces that I hear a lot.  If I can add these to my “at the ready” Korean I know, then I can recombine them when I am speaking.

Long before I started to learn Korean, I noticed the stalling technique “Creso” in Korean dramas.  I’ve used “Ne” often to mean various things like agreement, encouragement to continue, understanding of what has been said, etc.

I have met many people with substantial vocabularies, but still unable to string together even simple sentences. The words are trapped inside them, because they have never learned how to make them flow smoothly and continually in (and here is the important word) conversations.

Many lessons or books teach you to give factual responses (single works, or short sentences) but not how to establish rapport and keep a conversation going. When you learn the “tricks” of conversation (I have a spreadsheet of about 50 conversational “connectors” that I give to people) you can be fluent with the vocabulary you already have. – Anthony Lauder 

It is easy for me to think of a lot of examples of conversational connectors in English

that reminds me of —–
right, but have you considered —–
I agree! also —–
now it occurs to me that ——
by the way ——
I have an interesting story about  ——
and besides that —–
oh, I nearly forgot —–
and one more thing —–
on the other hand —–
did I tell you about —–

In fact, a LingQ member posted a list of hundreds with their translations to Spanish, German, French, and Italian.

I admire polyglot Anthony Lauder.  His connectors starter kit list phrases to use such as agreeing/disagreeing, opening, general fillers, qualifying and switching (that reminds me of a story …).  Unfortunately, he lists them in Czech!  I want them in Korean 🙂


While thinking how to make conversation in Korean, I should gather together those common phrases I have heard in conversations.  I wonder if conversational connectors work the same in Korean, because sentence structure is different.  Yes, I just added another “to do” item to my list!

Before my perfectionist runs off to put together the perfect list of all Korean conversational connectors, let me at least start with some familiar ones I already know.  I suspect some of the 1000 most common Korean words are just such conversational connectors.

Of course, the problem is I don’t know for some of the things I have heard what level of politeness they are.  I suspect a lot are only used in casual conversation between close friends.  Use at your own risk!  I’d rather err on the side of caution and politeness, which is another stumbling block in getting me to open my mouth in conversation.  There may be mistakes, please correct me if you see anything wrong.

Korean means
 그래서  so, therefore
 네?  yes and other things
 안돼요  no, don’t do it
 아니오  no
 잘했어요  well done
 내일 봐요  see you tomorrow
 나도/저도  me too
 근데/근데요  but
 축하해요  congratulations
 괜찮아요  ok/fine
 도와주세요  help
 뭐해요? What’s happening?
 잘 몰라요  I don’t know
 잠시만요  wait a moment
 정말  really?
 수고하세요  work hard
 별로  not that much (instead of directly don’t like)
 그럼 다음에  then next time
 피곤해요  Tired
 상관 없어요  It doesn’t matter
 어디예요?  Where are you?
 배고파요/목말라요  Hungry/Thirsty
 물론이지/물론이죠  Of course
 걱정돼요  I’m worried
 재미없어요  Not fun, bored
 오랜만이예요  Long time no see
 빨리빨리 / 빨리요  Hurry up
 가자/갑시다  Let’s go (banmal?)
 죽을래?  Do you want to die?(casual, and not as violent as it sounds)

(Side Note: part of the challenge in writing this post is I know some things only as sounds from Korean dramas but haven’t yet made the connection to the written word. How to spell “creso”? How to look it up in the dictionary when I know only how it is used, not it’s exact English meaning? “quen-chan-aeyo” is impossible to find in the dictionary until you make the connection that it is 괜찮다 conjugated in the polite form.

I feel like Koreans don’t full appreciate that I have a lot of very scattered pieces of information in my brain that need to be connected and understood. I’m often frustrated in KaTalk chats when I try to use a Korean word I have heard but am uncertain about the spelling. It is why I have these “ah ha” moments when I finally realize a written word matches a sound … like flower 꽃. I also wish to forget everything I learned by trying to figure out from romanization without hearing the word. Those words are ALL wrong Americanization Boston mispronunciations. 몇 is not pronounced “mu-yutch”. Yet I taught myself that and it is habit now that I have to shake. The silent letters in the batchim get me. Also, the words I only know as sounds with letters in the batchim that all sound like ‘t’ to me … what might be their spelling? how the heck should I know? Haha. I laugh every day.

Want to save yourself heartache? Learn Hangul first, ignore romanization, and learn spelling and sound together. Sage advice from the dyslexic who can’t even spell in her native tongue. haha)

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