[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

[Grammar] 조사 particles

조사 particles


There are lots of particles in Korean such as the subject particle, the object particle, the place particle, the time particle and the destination particle etc.  What are particles’ function?  Particles tell us constituents of a sentence, which means particles tell us which one is a subject, an object, place, time or a destination. In English, it is similar to preposition.  For example,

엄마 아들 사랑해요 (mom, son, love)

In this sentence, I can’t tell who love whom.  So we need particles like this,

엄마 아들 사랑해요. (The mom loves her son.)

아들 엄마 사랑해요. (The son loves his mom.)
and are subject particles, – and are object particles.


학교 회사 있어요. (school, company, is)

I can’t tell whether ‘There is the company in the school’ or ‘There is the school in the company’.

학교 회사 있어요. (The company is at the school.)

학교 회사 있어요. (The school is at the company.)
is the place particle.


If you want to learn more particles, please click

한국어 조사1 here
한국어 조사 2 here

[Grammar] -에서 Place particle

-에서 Place particle


We have learned the place particle -에 on the previous post(click), -에 is a place particle which means ‘existence(-에 있어요/없어요)’ or ‘direction(-에 가요/와요)’.

-에서 is also a place particle, but this is for an action, such as “I work at home”, “I study at the library” or “I eat lunch at a restaurant”.  In those sentences, ‘work’, ‘study’ and ‘eat’ have actions, you “do” something.  Let’s look at sentences below.

에서 텔레비전을 봐요.(보다:watch) I am watching TV at home.
학교에서 공부해요.(공부하다:study) I am studying at my school.
회사에서 일해요.(일하다:work) I am working at my company.
도서관에서 책을 읽어요.(읽다:read) I am reading books at the library.
커피숍에서 친구를 만나요.(만나다:meet) I am meeting my friend at the coffee shop.
극장에서 영화를 봐요.(보다:watch) I am watching a movie at the theater.
백화점에서 신발을 사요.(사다:buy) I am buying shoes at the department store.
친구 집에서 컴퓨터 게임해요.(게임하다:play a game) I am playing a computer game at my friend’s home.

You can also listen to the pronunciation here.

* Here is the difference between 에 and 에서. -에 is used for existence(있어요/없어요/살아요) and destination(가요/와요/다녀요), while 에서 is used for action verbs.


* 에서 also means ‘from a place’, check this out by clicking here.