|냬 ←||→ 네|
너 • (neo)
너 (neo, “you”) and 나 (na, “I; me”) constitute a yang-yin vowel ablaut pair, although Alexander Vovin notes that no direct evidence exists for etymological descent from one to the other and that other explanations for the apparent ablaut are possible. It is true that the semantics of Korean yang-yin ablaut are well-aligned with the first-person pronoun being represented by a yang ("bright") vowel and the second-person pronoun being represented by a yin ("dark") vowel.
너 • (neo)
- (informal) second-person singular informal pronoun; you
- 너를 사랑해.
- Neoreul saranghae.
- I love you.
- 너 언제부터 담배 피우기 시작하였니?
- Neo eonjebuteo dambae piugi sijakhayeonni?
- When did you start smoking?
- 너는 왜 말하지 않니?
- Neoneun wae malhaji anni?
- Why aren't you saying anything?
A characteristic of colloquial Korean is that the use of personal pronouns such as 너 (neo) or 걔 (gyae, “he; she”) implies that the person being referred to by the pronoun is of equal or lower social rank compared to the speaker. When speaking to a social superior, speakers use either a title or a word referring to the relationship between the speaker and the addressee. Thus the pronoun 너 (neo) is permissible for one's younger brother, but one's older brother is referred to as 형 (hyeong) or 오빠 (oppa), both meaning "older brother". Similarly, a freshman addresses a senior as 선배 (seonbae, “upperclassman; elder student”) but the senior may freely address the freshman as 너 (neo).
Furthermore, even when speaking to an equal or inferior, 너 (neo) is impermissible in polite or formal speech levels. In such contexts, use 자네 (jane), a title, or a personal name. 자기 (jagi) or 당신 (dangsin) is common in romantic contexts.
The use of 너 (neo) in socially impermissible contexts, such as when addressing a superior, should be understood as the speaker showing contempt for the addressee.