Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Tamara Warhol

Second Advisor

Teresa Lee

Third Advisor

Felice A. Coles

Relational Format



The purpose of the current research was to identify possible variables that could affect native Korean population’s perception and use of the Korean informal personal possessive, 나(의)/내 [na (ui)/nae], and informal communal possessive, 우리(의) [u.ri (ui)]. While 우리(의) [u.ri (ui)] and 나(의)/내 [na (ui)/nae] are translated to English as “our” and “my/mine,” the actual definition of the words are not direct equivalents of those translations. Korean further allows the communal possessive, 우리(의) [u.ri (ui)], to be used in lieu of the personal possessive, 나(의)/내 [na (ui)/nae], depending on certain pragmatic situations. To investigate how native Korean speakers differentiate the usage of the two, three surveys were conducted utilizing words independent from context. The surveys inquired about foreign experience, demographic factors, situational definitions, rankings, and ranking justifications to identify individuals' inclination to pick one over the other. This research hypothesizes that age, with the conservation of older peoples and innovation of younger peoples in language, and foreign experience are the key factors that motivate the variation in the usage of 우리(의) [u.ri (ui)] and 나(의)/내 [na (ui)/nae]. Furthermore, the definition and perception of 우리(의) [u.ri (ui)] and 나(의)/내 [na (ui)/nae] were hypothesized to generally be the same. However, because the surveys used a convenience sample resulting in most of the respondents being in their 20s, there was no conclusive judgement on age’s influence on the perception and usage of 우리(의) [u.ri (ui)] and 나(의)/내 [na (ui)/nae]. Foreign experience proved to be negligible. The data revealed that one’s personal values and one’s concept of inclusivity and/or independence had the most influence on the respondents’ rankings.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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