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Lesson 2: Korean Particles


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
isone 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 notconjugated. 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 ~/:
= 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.