What do you do for a living?

Hi. I have been living in an English speaking country for about ten years now. But the language barrier is still high. I tried to pick the best way to say something before I open my mouth, however too often I sound awkward. So I understand when other people make similar mistakes. I trust their good intention. Like today, someone whose English is not very good asked me "Are you still working?" after saying hi. I assumed she was asking if I worked today. It was a lot better than hearing someone asking me "Are you still single??" out of nowhere. :) Today, someone asked me on facebook how to say "What do you do for a living?" And I was trying to think of the most safe expression for most situations.

What do you do for a living?
하시는 일이 뭐에요?

하시는, hasinun, polite form of 하다 meaning do
일이, yli, work or job + suffix
뭐에요, muoeyo, what is it

하시는 일이 뭐에요?
hasinun yli muoeyo

하시는 일 means "work that you do" with politeness because of -시- variation ending of the verb 하다. If you want to say "What is you job?", it is simply "직업(occupation)이 뭐에요?". But this doesn't sound good if you are talking to a senior. It sounds really dry, formal and even impolite.

Depending who you talk to you can give different level of politeness.
하시는 일이 뭐에요? - most polite and suitable for seniors
하는 일이 뭐에요? - mideum politeness and good for acquaintances in your age group
하는 일이 뭐야? - least polite and good for your age group or younger

It is natural to make lots of mistakes while you are learning a new language. So don't be discouraged over small mistakes! :)


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