February 7, 2020

Without the particles in the Korean language, all words will run together without a clear message. One of the reasons is that the verb is always at the end of the sentence, and everything else comes before it.

In this article, we'll talk about Korean particles and their functions in a Korean sentence. 

What do particles do in a Korean sentence?

When you add a particle to a Korean word, it denotes the purpose of the word in a sentence. Is it the subject, object, or something else? Some particles take the place of a preposition. The particle is always attached to the end of the noun that it supports. 

In spoken conversations, however, some particles are often dropped when the message is still obvious without using them.

Because you are new to the Korean language, it will take some time to get accustomed to using the particles correctly. In time, it will start to feel more natural to you.

What are the common particles used in the Korean language?

Instead of focusing too much on what all the particles are called, you should familiarize yourself with the functions of the different particles. Let’s just look at the list of the particles commonly used in Korean language and what their functions are:

There are basically three types of particles in the Korean language

  • Marking particles
  • Prepositional particles
  • Other miscellaneous particles (include “and,” “or,” plural, and possessive)

Marking Particles

Particle

Function

이/가

Marks the subject of the sentence. 

이 follows a consonant, and 가 follows a verb.


엄마 시장에 갔어요.

Mom went to the store.

은/는

Often referred to as the topic marker but still attached to the subject of the sentence. 은 follows a consonant, and 는 follows a vowel. 


제이쓴 의사가 아니에요.

Jason is not a doctor.

을/를

Marks the object of the sentence when using an action verb. 을 follows a consonant, and 를 follows a vowel.


저는 사과 좋아해요.

I like apples.

Marks the subject of the sentence and indicates “also.”


피자 먹고 싶어요.

I also want to eat pizza.


치즈 많이 달라고 전해주세요.

Please tell them to give me lots of cheese also.

Marks the subject of the sentence and indicates “only.”


일등한 사람 선물을 받아요.

Only the person in first place will receive a gift.

Prepositional Particles

Particle

Function

에/에서

Functions as prepositions used for time and place. 에 is used for “to”(place) or “at”(time); and 에서 is used for “from”(place).


그 학생은 도서관 갔어요.

That student went to the library.


그 영화는 2시 시작해요.

That movie starts at 2 o’clock.


저는 서울에서 왔어요.

I came from Seoul.

부터/까지

부터 functions as “from”(duration of time), and 까지 functions as “to” or “until”(duration of time) or “to”(location/destination).


저는 오늘부터 다음주까지 휴가예요.

I am on vacation from today until next week.


우리식당은 아침 9시부터 저녁 11시까지 장사해요.

Our restaurant does business from 9:00am to 11:00pm.


서울에서 부산까지 가는 기차는 몇시에 떠나요?

What time does the train leave that goes from Seoul to Busan?

에게/한테/께

Functions as “to” when giving something to a person. 에게 is the polite form, 한테 is the casual form, and 께 is formal.


오빠는 여자친구에게 꽃을 선물했어요.

My brother gifted flowers to his girlfriend.


저는 남동생한테 비밀을 말하지 않았어요.

I did not tell the secret to my brother.


저는 할머니 편지를 드렸어요.

I gave the letter to my grandmother.

으로/로

Functions as “to” or “toward” a location, and functions as “with” when pointing to a tool or method to perform the action verb. 으로 follows a consonant and 로 follows a verb.


식당으로 갑시다.

Let’s go to the restaurant.


제 친구는 아리조나 이사를 갔어요.

My friend moved to Arizona.


종이는 가위 자르세요.

Cut the paper with scissors.


한 사람의 힘으 그바위를 움직일수 없어요.

The boulder cannot be moved with one person’s strength.

Other Miscellaneous Particles

Particle

Function

이나/나

Marks two nouns and indicates “or,” as in “this or that.” Particle is attached to the first noun. 이 follows a consonant and 나 follows a verb.


점심은 간단하게 사라다 국으로 정해요.

Let’s decide on salad or soup for a simple lunch.

Makes the noun plural.


이 공원에 새이 많이 날아다녀요.

A lot of birds fly around in this park.


늦은 사람은 밖에서 기다려야 해요.

Persons who are late need to wait outside.

Makes the noun possessive.


그 남자 부인은 아름다워요.

That man’s wife is beautiful.


우리 나라 한가지 특징은 맛있는 음식이에요.

Our country’s one special characteristic is great tasting food.

와/과/하고/랑/이랑

Functions as “and” to connect two nouns, and functions as “with” when talking about people.


전쟁 평화

War and Peace


엄마 아빠 

Mom and Dad


연필하고 종이

Pencil and paper


저는 친구 놀았어요.

I played with a friend.


엄마는 여동생이랑 학교에 갔어요.

Mom went to school with my younger sister.


저는 남자친구하고 영화를 봤어요.

I watched a movie with my boyfriend.

One thing to notice is that all particles, whether it be markers, prepositions, or something else, get attached to the end of the words and not in front of them.

Conclusion

The correct use of particles in the Korean language is important because you want to be able to clearly communicate without being misunderstood. Particles play a crucial role in conveying the intended message.

This article was just an overview to introduce you to the particles. Don’t feel like you have to learn and memorize all of them right away. Just take one at a time and master them slowly! 

Please feel free to ask questions and make suggestions by leaving a comment below!  

REVIEW AND REPEAT DAILY, AND YOU WILL SEE PROGRESS…  화이팅!!

About the author 

Linda McKenna

Linda was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the U.S. as a teen. She previously taught at a Korean language school. She is a language enthusiast and loves learning about different languages and cultures

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