[Grammar] 이/가 vs 은/는 : Subject particle vs topic particle

We have learned Korean particles in the previous post(click).  This post is about subject particles and topic particles. The subject particles are  이 and 가, the topic particles are 은 and 는

Noun(ends with a consonant) + 이 

Noun(ends with a vowel) +

For example,

뭐예요?.  What is your name?
며칠이에요? What date is today?
예뻐요. The baby is pretty.

And many people are confused the subject particle with the topic particle -은/는.

-은 and 는 are not subject particle. 

-은/는 can substitute -이/가(subject particle) and -을/를(object particle), which means you CAN’T use the topic particle and the subject/object particle for one noun.  We should use either topic particle or subject/object particle.

Noun(ends with a consonant) +

Noun(ends with a vowel) +

For beginners, we just need to know -은/는 are used for

1. when you introduce a noun

For example,

이민수예요.  I am Lee Minsu.
한국 사람이에요. I am Korean.
28살이에요. I am 28 years old.
우리 한국어 선생님 남자예요. My Korean teacher is a male.

2. when you compare two nouns

For example,

민수 씨는 사과를 좋아해요. 그런데 유진 씨는 사과를 안 좋아해요.
(Minsu likes apples, but Yujin doesn’t like apples)
– 민수 씨 and 유진 씨 are subjects.
* 민수 씨가는(X), 유진 씨가는(X)

민수 씨가 사과는 좋아해요. 그런데 (민수 씨가) 바나나는 안 좋아해요.
(Minsu likes apples, but he doesn’t like bananas.)
– 사과 and 바나나 are objects. 
* 사과를은(X), 바나나를은(X)

3. When you ask about new information, it is safe to use -이/가 and when you answer the question, you should -은/는

For example,

A: 이름이 뭐예요? What is your name?
B: 제 이름은 이민수예요. My name is Lee Minsu.

A: 오늘이 며칠이에요? What date is today?
B: 오늘은 8월 7일이에요. Today is August 7.

A: 이 분이 누구예요? Who is this person?
B: (이 분은) 제 어머니예요.  (This person is) My mother.

You can also listen to the pronunciation here.

#이 subject particle #가subject particle #subject particle #topic particle #topic #은는 #은topic #는topic #은subject #는subject #이/가vs은/는 #은는 topic #이가subject #subject marker #subject topic #Korean topic #은는 subject