There are lots of particles in Korean, some books call them markers. I will call them particles here. Korean Particles mostly attached to a noun, so there is no space between nouns and particles. Let’s see what kind of particles are in Korean.
1. Subject particles -이/가
Noun(ends with a consonant) + 이
Noun(ends with a vowel) + 가
Subject particles attach to a noun to tell us that noun is a subject in a sentence. For example,
선생님이 여자예요. The teacher is a female.
의자가 어디에 있어요? Where is the chair?
Koreans often drop the subject particle –이/가 when they make conversations.
i.e) 사과 있어요? Do you have apples?
사과 없어요. I don’t have apples.
돈 있어요? Do you have money?
2. Object particles -을/를
Noun(ends with a consonant) + 을
Noun(ends with a vowel) + 를
Object particles attach to a noun to tell us that noun is an object in a sentence. For example,
밥을 안 먹었어요. I didn’t eat a meal.
커피를 마셔요. I am drinking coffee.
3. Topic particles or comparison particles -은/는
Noun(ends with a consonant) + 은
Noun(ends with a vowel) + 는
When -은/는 are topic particles, they substitute subject particles or object particles, which means you cannot use -이/가(or 을/를) and 은/는 at the same time. Thus, many students get confused by subject particles and topic particles. I explain these two particles in this post(click). For example,
선생님은 한국 사람이에요. The teacher is Korean.
저는 진우예요. I am Jin-woo.
-은/는 also can mean ‘comparison’. For example,
사과는 좋아해요. 그런데 수박은 안 좋아해요. I like apples, but I don’t like water melons. (사과를 => 사과는 수박을 => 수박은 )
제 친구는 영어를 잘해요. 그런데 저는 영어를 못해요. My friend speaks English very well, but I don’t. (제 친구가 => 제 친구는, 제가 => 저는 )
If you are confused subject 이/가 and 은/는, please click here and learn more.
4. Time and place particle -에
-에 has lots of meanings, however I only want to talk about time and place here. For example,
1) 어디에 있어요? Where is it? : It means ‘existence‘, so it is used with 있다/없다/살다
2) 학교에 가요. I am going to school. : It means ‘destination‘, so it is used with 가다/오다/다니다
3) 2 시에 만나요. Let’s meet at 2. : It means ‘time‘ for this verb/adjective happens.
(However some nouns such as 지금, 어제, 오늘, 내일, 매일, 언제etc don’t add -에)
5. Place particle -에서 (at, in, on)
-에서 is a place particle with “action verbs“. Many students get confused this with -에, but remember this is for “action verb” and -에 is for ‘있다/없다’. For example,
백화점에서 만나요. Let’s meet at the department store.
식당에서 점심을 먹어요. I am eating at a restaurant.
It also means ‘from somewhere’, for example
서울에서 왔어요. I am from Seoul.
서울에서 부산까지 멀어요. It is far from Seoul to Busan.
6. -하고 : ‘and’ and ‘with’ = 와/과 or (이)랑
-하고 has two meaning, which are ‘and’ between two nouns and ‘with someone/animal’. For example,
1) 수박하고 사과를 안 먹어요. I don’t eat watermelons and apples.
2) 엄마하고 백화점에 갔어요. I went to the department store with my mom.
* For formal form of 하고 is 와/과. For example,
1) 수박과 사과를 안 먹습니다.
2) 의사와 이야기하세요.
* You will see (이)랑 sometimes instead of 하고. (이)랑 is very casual form, so you only use it in a casual situation. For example,
1) 수박이랑 사과를 안 먹어요.
2) 엄마랑 백화점에 갔어요.
7. -도 : ‘also’ and ‘even’
As I said earlier, it is a particle, so we shouldn’t use this as an adverb.
1) 고기를 먹었어요. 그리고 소주도 마셨어요. I ate meat and also drank Soju.
고기를 먹었어요. 도 소주 마셨어요. (X)
2) 한 명도 안 왔어요. Even one person didn’t come. : -도 is usually used with numbers, and means ‘even’.
8. -만 : ‘only’
Many students use this like an adverb because in English ‘only’ is an adverb. BUT 만 is ONLY attached to a noun. For example,
사과만 안 먹어요. Apples are only fruit I do not eat.
저만 한국 사람이에요. I am the only Korean person.
9. -밖에 + negative word: ‘only’
It means similar to ‘-만’, however it needs an negative word such as ‘안’, ‘못’, ‘없어요’ or ‘몰라요’. For example,
저는 사과밖에 안 먹어요. I only eat apples.
저밖에 안 왔어요. I am the only one who came.
영어밖에 몰라요. I only know English.
You can listen to the audio by clicking this link.
If you want to study ‘Korean particles part 2’, please click here.