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Lesson 2: Korean Particles /

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Jump to:
Vocabulary
Introduction
: To have
: To be at/in a location
~/ as a Subject Marker

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This Lesson is also available in Espaol and .

Vocabulary
The vocabulary is separated into nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for the purpose of
simplicity:
Hover your mouse over any word to see examples of that word in use (you probably wont
be able to understand the grammar within the sentences at this point, but it is good to
see as you progress through your learning).
A FREE PDF file neatly presenting all of these words and example sentences in addition
to common usages and specific notes can be found here.
Want to give your brain practice at recognizing these words? Try finding the words in this
vocabulary list in a Word Search.
Nouns:
= country
= backpack
= window

= magazine
= room
= refrigerator
= dog
= puppy
= cat
= rat
= pen
= phone
= coffee
= restaurant
= building
= television
= USA
= Canada
= hotel
= school
= bank
Adverbs
= inside
= on top
= below
= beside
= behind
= in front
= here
Verbs:
= to have
= to be at a location
For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.

Introduction
In Lesson 1 you learned about simple Korean particles. To review, you learned that:
~ or ~ are used to indicate the subject (or main person/thing) in a sentence.
~ or ~ are used to indicate the object in a sentence.
For example, in this sentence: I ate a hamburger

I is the subject of the sentence


Hamburger is the object
Eat is the verb
In this Lesson, you will learn about the particles ~/. In all situations, ~ is attached
to nouns in which the last letter is a consonant (like ~) and ~ is attached to nouns
in which the last letter is a vowel (like ~). For example:
ends in a consonant (), so ~ is added: .
ends in a vowel (), so ~ is added: .
But, in what situations should we use ~/? You will start learning about when to use
~/ instead of ~/ in this lesson. Before we do that, I would like to teach you how
to use the word in sentences. Lets get started.
.

: To have
The word has two distinct meanings both of which are very common and
important to an early learner of Korean. As you can see in the vocabulary list of this
lesson, the words have the following meanings:
= to have
= to be at a location
You learned in Lesson 1 that (to be) acts as an adjective in Korean. (to have)
also acts an adjective in Korean. At this point, this is important to you for one reason.
You learned in Lesson 1 that sentences with adjectives cannot act on an object. Thus,
you cannot have a word with the particle ~/ attached to it if the predicating word in
a sentence is an adjective (because ~/ indicates an object in a sentence).
If this werent the case, we could do the following:
I have a pen
I pen
+ +
= I have a pen
BUT, remember, acts as an adjective, so we cannot have an object in that
sentence. Therefore, the use of ~ on is incorrect. To get around this, we can
attach ~/ to the object instead of ~/ in sentences with . This is one usage

of the particle ~/; that is, to indicate the thing a person has an object in
sentences with . Look at the following example sentences:
= I have a pen
( / )
= I have a car
( / )
= I have a magazine
( / )
= I have a backpack
( / )
Again, note that ~/ is not used to indicate the object that a person has. Instead, ~
/ are used.
Remember that the example sentences provided in Lessons 1, 2, 3 and 4 are not
conjugated. While one/two forms of conjugations are provided in parentheses below
each example sentence, the grammar within these conjugations is too complicated for
you to understand right now. For now, focus on what is being presented in these first
four lessons before you start to worry about conjugating sentences and using honorifics.

: To be at a location
The thing that makes so difficult is that it can also mean to be at a location. In
Lesson 1 you learned about the particle ~ in Korean. You learned that this particle is
used to indicate the place and/or time of something in a sentence. Therefore, ~ is
often used in sentences with to indicate the location of somebody/something.
For example: I am at school
If we wanted to write this sentence with Korean structure and particles, we would write:
I school am at
+ +
= I am at school
( / )
or,

= I am in Canada
( / )
Notice the very big difference (in meaning) between the following sentences, and the role
that particles have in each case. Because has two different meanings, changing the
particles in a sentence can drastically change the meaning. For example:
= I have a school
= I am at school
= I have a magazine
= I am at the magazine (this doesnt make sense)
We can also use position words to indicate specifically where someone/something is
with respect to another noun. The most common position words are:
=
=
=
=
=
=

inside
on top
below
beside
behind
in front

These words are placed after a noun to indicate where an object is with respect to that
noun. The particle ~ is then attached directly to the position words. For example:
= in front of the school
= behind the person
= beside the house
= behind that building
These constructions can now act as the location (adverb) in a sentence:
= I am at school
= I am in-front of the school
( )
Lets make some sentences:
= I am behind the school
( / )
= I am beside the school
( / )

= I am inside the bank


( / )
= The dog is in the house
( / )
= The cat is under the chair
( / )
= The restaurant is next to the bank
( / )
= The hotel is next to the school
( / )
You have learned that ~/ can be attached to nouns in sentences to indicate the
object that a person has. ~/ can also be used to indicate the subject of a
sentence, similar to ~/. What is the difference? We will talk about this in the next
section.

~/ as a Subject Marker
One of the most difficult things for a new learner of Korean to understand is the
difference between the particles ~/ and ~/. Earlier in this Lesson, you learned
that you should use ~/ on the object that a person has when using .
In addition to this, there are more functions of ~/ that you should know about.
In Lesson 1, you learned that you should add ~/ to the subject of the sentence. To
use an example using the grammar taught earlier in this Lesson, you could say:
= The cat is behind the house
( / )
In this sentence, notice that the particle ~/ indicates that the cat is the subject.
However the sentence above could also be written like this:
= The cat is behind the house
( / )

The two sentences could have exactly the same meaning and feeling. I emphasize
could because in some situations the meaning of the two sentences is exactly the
same, but in other situations the meaning of two sentences can be subtly different.
The reason why they could be identical:
= The cat is behind the house
= The cat is behind the house
~/, like ~/ is added to the subject of the sentence. In some situations, there is
no difference in meaning or feel between adding ~/ or ~/ to the subject.

The reason why they could be subtly different:


~/ has a role of indicating that something is being compared with something else.
The noun that ~/ is added to is being compared. In this example:
= The cat is behind the house
The speaker is saying that the cat is behind the house (in comparison to something else
that is not behind the house). The difficulty here is that there only one sentence; which
gives the listener no context to understand what the cat is being compared with.
However, if I were to make up a context that fits into this situation, it could be that The
dog is in the house, and, the cat is behind the house.
However, saying:
= The cat is behind the house
is simply stating a fact, and the cat is not being compared to anything.
Another example:
= The coffee is in the fridge (This sentence is simply stating that
the coffee is in the fridge, and there is no intention of comparison)
= The coffee is in the fridge (This sentence could simply be stating
that the coffee is in the fridge. It is also possible that the speaker is trying to distinguish
between the location of another object. For example, perhaps the tea is on the table, but
the coffee is in the fridge).
Note that in both pairs of examples, the translation does not change by altering the
subject particle. Rather, the only thing that changes is the subtle feeling that something
is being compared. However, a different translation could be made to reflect this subtle
difference. Some resources will present the two sentences above as:

= The cat is behind the house


= It is the cat that is behind the house
Notice that the translation It is the cat that is behind the house tries to emphasize that
the cat is behind the house, implying that there would be another animal (or something)
in another location. However, I prefer to not use different translations when ~/ is
used instead of ~/ as this leads people to believe that these two particles are
vastly different. Instead, I think the difference in use of ~/ over ~/ is more about
feeling the feeling that something is being compared.
This feeling takes a long time for Korean learners to be able understand and by no
means will you be able to understand this feeling this early in your studies. I hope that
by introducing this in Lesson 2, you will slowly be able to pick up the nuances of these
particles as you continue to study the language.
As you progress through our Lessons, you will see both ~/ and ~/ used as
the subject particles in the thousands of example sentences we have provided. As
almost all of our example sentences are just written as one sentence (without any
background or prior context), there is no way to tell if something is being compared to
and thus their usage is usually arbitrary.
In addition to the usages discussed in this lesson, there are other situations when it is
more appropriate to use ~/ as the subject particle instead of ~/. Some Korean
text books will tell you that ~/ is more appropriately attached to subjects in a
sentence where new information is being given. Conversely, ~/ are attached to
subjects in a sentence where the information is already known. I have never once
thought about or used this rule throughout my years of Korean studies. Instead, it is
more feasible to remember the specific situations where it is more appropriate to use ~
/ as the subject particle instead of ~/.
For example, when one says it is raining, it is always more natural to use ~/
instead of ~/ on the subject rain. I will show you the sentence, but you should
know that you have not been introduced to the grammatical principles needed in order to
understand it completely. I am only showing you this sentence to assert that there are
some situations in which it is more natural to use ~/ over ~/:
/ = It rained / Its raining
As you progress through our lessons, situations where it is more natural to use ~/
instead of ~/ will be specified.
Now that you have a general understanding of basic Korean particles and sentence
structure, we can start learning how to use verbs/adjectives in sentences and how to

conjugate them appropriately. You will be introduced to these topics in the upcoming five
Lessons.
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