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Nouns: Nouns:

한국 = Korea 집 = house
도시 = city 차 = car
이름 = name 사람 = person
저 = I, me (formal) 책 = book
나 = I, me (informal) 컴퓨터 = computer
남자 = man 나무 = tree/wood
여자 = woman 소파 = sofa
이 = this 중국 = China
그 = that 일본 = Japan
저 = that (when something is far away) 문 = door
것 = thing 의사 = doctor
이것 = this thing 학생 = student
그것 = that thing
저것 = that thing Adverbs and Other Words:
의자 = chair 이다 = to be
탁자 = table 네 = yes
선생님 = teacher 아니 = no
침대 = bed
Greeting Words
Throughout my lessons, I will only use grammar and vocabulary that you have learned
from a previous lesson. In Unit 0, I taught you how to write words in Korean. Above, you
can see the first set of words you should study to get you started. I have not yet taught
you how to use those words or how conjugate them.

The words for “hello,” “thank you,” “how are you,” and “please” are actually quite
difficult in Korean. There is actually grammar within the words themselves. At this stage,
I would simply memorize these “greeting words” as one unit, and you can worry about
the grammar within them later when it becomes relevant. The words are:

안녕하세요 = hello

감사하다 and 고맙다 are the two words that are commonly used to say "thank you."
However, they are rarely used in those forms and are almost always conjugated. They can
be conjugated in a variety of ways, which will be introduced in Lesson 5 and Lesson 6.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 1


The most common ways to conjugate these words are:

감사합니다
감사해요

고마워
고맙습니다
고마워요

The way to say “how are you” in Korean is:

잘 지내세요? = How are you

Although this is the most literal way to say “how are you” in Korean, it is not as common
as the English expression. Korean people love food, and common way to greet somebody
is to ask them if they have eaten. The idea of asking questions in Korean is taught in
Lesson 21.

The way to say “please” in Korean is:

제발 = Please

It is, of course, important for you to memorize these expressions in Korean, but you need
to know that there is a reason why they are said that way. For now, don’t worry about
why they are said that way, and simply memorize them. We will get back to them in later
lessons when they become important.

Korean Sentence Structure


One of the hardest things to wrap your head around in Korean is the alien-like sentence
structure. Essentially, Korean sentences are written in the following order:

Subject – Object – Verb (for example: I hamburger eat), Or


Subject – Adjective (for example: I beautiful)

I am going to quickly explain what a “subject” and “object” mean, as your ability to
understand later concepts depends on your understanding of this.
The subject refers to person/thing/noun/whatever that is acting. The subject does the
action of the verb. For example, the subject in each sentence below is underlined:

I went to the park


I will go to the park
My mom loves me
He loves me
The dog ran fast
The clouds cleared up

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 2


In English, the subject always comes before the verb.

The object refers to whatever the verb is acting on. For example, the object in each
sentence below is underlined

My mom loves me
The dog bit the mailman
He ate rice
Students studied Korean

In English, the object always comes after the verb. However, a sentence with a verb does
not require an object. For example:

I slept
I ate
He died

Sometimes there is no object because it has simply been omitted from the sentence. For
example, “I ate” or “I ate rice” are both correct sentences. Other verbs, by their nature,
cannot act on an object. For example, you cannot place an object after the verbs “to
sleep” or “to go:”

I sleep you
I go you

Subjects are also present in sentences with adjectives. However, there is no object in a
sentence with an adjective. The subjects are underlined in the following adjective-
sentences below:

School is boring
I am boring
The movie was funny
The building is big
My girlfriend is pretty
The food is delicious

Verbs and adjectives are placed at the end of a sentence. Actually, every Korean sentence
and clause must end in one of the following:

- A verb
- An adjective, or
- 이다

I talk about the meaning of 이다 later in this lesson. It is neither a verb nor an adjective,
but it behaves like them. Every verb, every adjective and 이다 end in “다,” and these are
the only words in Korean that can be conjugated.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 3


Korean also has a formality system built into the language. That is, the way one speaks to
an older person who deserves high respect would be different than the way one speaks to
a friend. There are many ways words in a sentence can change depending on the
formality of the situation, but the two most common, basic and important things to be
aware of are:

1) There are two ways to say “I” or “me” in Korean:

나, used in informal situations, and


저, used in formal situations.

2) There are many ways to conjugate a word. As we saw above, the word 고맙다 can be
conjugated many different ways. It is important to know which conjugation to use in
which situation. This is taught in Lesson 6. Until Lesson 6, I make no distinction of
formality and the focus is more on sentence structure than conjugations. Until then, you
will see both 나 and 저 arbitrarily used. Don't worry about why one is used over the other
until Lesson 6, when formalities will be explained.

Okay, now that you know all of that, we can talk about making Korean sentences.

Korean Particles (~는/은 and ~를/을)


Most words in a Korean sentence have a particle (a fancy word to say ‘something’)
attached to them. These particles indicate the role of each word in a sentence –that is,
which word is the subject or object. Note that there is absolutely no way of translating
these particles to English, as we do not use anything like them.

The following are the most common particles:

는 or 은 (Subject)
This is placed after a word to indicate that it is the subject of a sentence
Use 는 when the last letter of the last syllable of the subject is a vowel. For example:

나 = 나는
저 = 저는

Use 은 when the last letter of the last syllable of the subject is a consonant. For example:

집 = 집은
책 = 책은

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 4


를 or 을 (Object)
This is placed after a word to indicate that is the object of a sentence.
Use 를 when the last letter of the last syllable is a vowel:

나 = 나를
저 = 저를

Use 을 when the last letter of the last syllable is a consonant:

집 = 집을
책 = 책을

We can now make sentences using Korean sentence structure and Korean particles.
1) I speak Korean = I 는 Korean 을 speak
는 is attached to "I" (the subject)
을 is attached to "Korean" (the object)

2) I like you = I 는 you 를 like


는 is attached to "I" (the subject)
를 is attached to "you" (the object)

3) I wrote a letter = I 는 letter 을 wrote


는 is attached to "I" (the subject)
을 is attached to "letter" (the object)

4) I opened the door = I 는 door 을 opened


는 is attached to “I” (the subject)
을 is attached to “the door” (the object)

5) My mom will make pasta = My mom 은 pasta 를 will make


은 is attached to “my mom” (the subject)
를 is attached to “pasta” (the object)

The same could be done for sentences with adjectives. However, remember that
sentences with adjectives will not have an object:

1) My girlfriend is pretty: My girlfriend 은 is pretty


은 is attached to "my girlfriend" (the subject)

2) The movie was scary = The movie 는 was scary


는 is attached to "the movie" (the subject)

We will now switch our focus to using actual Korean words to create sentences ending in 이다.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 5


To be: 이다
Let’s start building sentences in Korean. In this lesson, we will start by making simple
sentences using the word 이다. The translation for “이다” is “to be.” English speakers
often don’t realize how difficult the word “to be” is. Depending on who is being referred
to, the word “to be” could be any of the underlined words below:

I am a man
He is a man
They are men
I was a man
They were men

In each of those sentences, a different word (is, am, are, was, were) is used depending on
the subject and tense of the sentence. I can’t imagine how difficult this would be for an
English learner. In Korean, the 이다 is used to represent all of those “to be” words.

As mentioned earlier, 이다 can be conjugated. In that way, 이다 is similar to verbs and


adjectives, but the rules for 이다 are often (but not always) different. I will teach you
how 이다 differs from verbs and adjectives as it becomes important in later lessons. For
example, in Lesson 52 you will learn that the process for quoting a sentence with 이다 is
different than with verbs and adjectives.

Like adjectives, 이다 can not act on an object. Only verbs can act on objects. For
example:

I eat hamburgers (eat is a verb, the object is a hamburger)


She meets my friend (meet is a verb, the object is my friend)
They study Korean (study is a verb, the object is Korean)
We listen to music (listen is a verb, the object is music)

All of those sentences (can) have objects because the verb is the predicate of the sentence.
However, in sentences that are predicated by adjectives, there will not be an object:

I am pretty
She is beautiful
They are hungry
We are smart

Look at those four sentences. When we use adjectives in English, we must also use “to
be” words like am, is and are. In other words, we cannot make sentences like this:

I pretty
She beautiful
They hungry
We smart

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 6


Unlike in English, 이다 is not used in these types of sentences. That is, we do not use
이다 to indicate that something “is” an adjective. The structure of sentences predicated
by adjectives is discussed in Lesson 3.

So, 이다 is not used in these types of sentences:

I am pretty
She is beautiful
They are hungry
We are smart

However, 이다 is used in these types of sentences:

I am a man
He is a man
They are men
I was a man
They were men

이다 is used to indicate that a noun is a noun. The basic structure for a sentence
predicated by “이다” is:

[noun 은/는] [another noun][이다]

For example:
I 는 man 이다 = I am a man

Now substitute the words for “man” and “I,” which are:

나=I
남자 = man

The Korean sentence would look like this:

나는 남자이다 = I am a man

Notice that 이다 is attached directly to the second noun. Verbs and adjectives are not
attached to nouns like this, but 이다 is. It would be incorrect to include a space between
the second noun and 이다. For example, this would be incorrect:

나는 남자 이다

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 7


Although it might look and feel like “남자” is an object in that sentence, it is not. 이다,
like adjectives and unlike verbs cannot act on an object. It would be incorrect to include
the object particle on the second noun. For example, this would be incorrect:

나는 남자를 이다

The focus of this lesson (and Lessons 2, 3 and 4) is to introduce you to simple Korean
sentence structure. Until you reach Lesson 5 and Lesson 6 you will not be exposed to the
conjugations and honorifics of Korean verbs, adjectives and 이다. These words are very
rarely used without conjugations and honorifics.

The conjugation of sentences is very important, but so is the structure of sentences. When
creating these lessons, I went back in forth many times thinking about which one I should
present first. You can’t conjugate sentences if you don’t have a logical sentence to
conjugate; and you can’t create a logical sentence if you don’t know how to conjugate it.
In the end, I figured it would make more sense to present the information this way –
where learners are introduced to sentence structure and then learn how to conjugate the
words within the sentence.

Throughout all of my lessons, I use example sentences to show how grammar can be
used. The example sentences in Lessons 1 – 4 are not conjugated. However, directly
beneath each non-conjugated sentence is a conjugated version of the same sentence in
parenthesis (one formal and one informal conjugation). You might want to glimpse at
how the words are conjugated, but remember that this will be taught in Lessons 5 and 6.

Below we can see other examples of how 이다 can be used:

나는 여자이다 = I am a woman
(나는 여자야 / 저는 여자예요)

나는 선생님이다 = I am a teacher
(나는 선생님이야 / 저는 선생님이에요)

나는 사람이다 = I am a person
(나는 사람이야 / 저는 사람이에요)

나는 ______이다 = I am a _______
(나는 _______ 이야 / 저는 _____이에요)

You can substitute any word into the blank space to make these sentences.

The words "this" and "that" are often used as the subject of these types of sentences. Let's
now look at how we can apply 이 것 , 그 것 and 저 것 to sentences with 이 다 .

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 8


This and That (이/그/저)
You can see in the vocabulary above that the word for “this” is 이 in Korean.
We use 이 in Korean when we are talking about something that is within touching
distance (For example: this pen - i.e. the one I am holding). Just like in English "이"
(this) is placed before the noun it is describing. For example:

이 사람 = This person
이 남자 = This man
이 여자 = This woman
이 차 = This car
이 탁자 = This table
이 의자 = This chair

Unfortunately, there are two words for “that”: 그 and 저. Early learners of Korean are
always confused with the difference between “그” and “저.”

We use 그 when we are talking about something from a previous sentence or from
previous context, regardless of if you could see it or not. Providing examples would be
too difficult right now because you do not know any Korean sentences. However, if I
were to say: “I don’t like that man [when your friend mentioned him in a previous
sentence].” The word “that” in that sentence would be how “그” is used.

We use 저 when we are talking about something that we can see, but cannot touch
because it is too far away.

We can place “그” or “저” before a noun to describe “this” or “that” thing just like we
did with “이.”

이 사람 = This person
그 사람 = That person
저 사람 = That person

이 남자 = This man
그 남자 = That man
저 남자 = That man

이 여자 = This woman
그 여자 = That woman
저 여자 = That woman

이 의자 = This chair
그 의자 = That chair
저 의자 = That chair

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 9


이 탁자 = This table
그 탁자 = That table
저 탁자 = That table

Again, although the English translations of “그” and “저” are the same, it is important
to remember that they do not have the same meaning in Korean.

One of the most common words in Korean is “것” meaning “thing.” When 이, 그 or 저
are placed before “것,” the result is a compound word. Therefore, when placing “것”
after 이, 그 or 저, there should not be a space between the two. In other words, the
following are words in and within themselves, and not two separate words:

이것 = this thing
그것 = that thing
저것 = that thing

We see this same phenomenon happen with other common words that you learn in future
lessons. You don’t need to worry about this now, but we see this same thing happen with
the word 곳 (meaning “place”) and 때 (meaning “time”).

With these words, the word “thing” isn’t necessary in the English translation. Let me
explain.

I’ll use “that” as an example, but the same idea can be applied to the word “this.”

“That” can be placed before a noun to describe it. As we saw earlier:

That person
That man
That woman

However, it can also be a noun itself. For example:

I like that

In this type of English sentence, “that” is referring to some thing that you like. It is a
noun. It is a thing.

Therefore, the sentence could just as easily be said as:

I like that thing

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 10


I don’t like to use grammatical jargon in my lessons, but if you know what these words
mean, it could be helpful. In both English and Korean, “that” can be a determiner (as in,
“I like that man”), and it can also be a pronoun (as in “I like that”). When used as a
determiner in Korean, you should place 그 before a noun. When used as a pronoun in
Korean, the word 그것 is used.

In this same respect, while “이, 그 and 저” translate to “this, that and that” respectively,
and are placed before nouns to indicate “this noun, that noun and that noun,” “이것, 그것
and 저것” are nouns (they are pronouns). Therefore, they do not need to be followed by
the redundant word “thing,” although their meanings would be exactly the same:

I like this
I like this thing

I like that
I like that thing

We can now use these nouns as subjects or objects in a sentence. We will look at how
they can be used with “이다” next.

Using This/That with 이다


Remember, 이다 translates to “to be” and is conjugated as “am/is/are” in English. Now
that we know how to use 이, 그 and 저 (and 이것, 그것 and 저것), we can now make
sentences like this:

That person is a doctor

We can start by putting those words into the Korean structure:


That person 는 doctor is

And then changing the English words to the appropriate Korean words:
그 사람은 + 의사 + 이다
그 사람은 의사이다
(그 사람은 의사야 / 그 사람은 의사예요)

More examples:
그 사람은 선생님이다 = That person is a teacher
(그 사람은 선생님이야 / 그 사람은 선생님이에요)

이것은 탁자이다 = This (thing) is a table


(이것은 탁자야 / 이것은 탁자예요)

저것은 침대이다 = That (thing) is a bed


(저것은 침대야 / 저것은 침대예요)

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 11


그 사람은 남자이다 = That person is a man
(그 사람은 남자야 / 그 사람은 남자예요)

그 사람은 여자이다 = That person is a woman


(그 사람은 여자야 / 그 사람은 여자예요)

그것은 차이다 = That (thing) is a car


(그것은 차야 / 그것은 차예요)

이것은 나무이다 = This (thing) is a tree


(이것은 나무야 / 이것은 나무예요)

Wow! That was an extremely difficult lesson. If you were to pick up another Korean
textbook, I am sure the first chapter would be much easier than this. Trust me though;
learning this at the start will be very useful to you later on. When I was learning how to
speak Korean, it took me months to realize some of these things (not because they were
hard, but because I was using a text book that never taught me the reason why things are
the way they are in Korean).

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 1 12


Nouns: Nouns:
나라 = country 캐나다 = Canada
가방 = bag, backpack 호텔 = hotel
창문 = window 학교 = school
잡지 = magazine 은행 = bank
방 = room
냉장고 = refrigerator Verbs:
개 = dog 있다 = to have
강아지 = puppy 있다 = to be at a location
고양이 = cat
Adverbs
쥐 = rat
안 = inside
펜 = pen
위 = on top
전화기 = phone
밑 = below
커피 = coffee
옆 = beside
식당 = restaurant
뒤 = behind
건물 = building
앞 = in front
텔레비전 = television
여기 = here
미국 = USA

Introduction
In Lesson 1 you learned about simple Korean particles. To review, you learned that:
~는 or ~은 are used to indicate the subject (or main person/thing) in a sentence.
~를 or ~을 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 ~이/가 and specifically how it can
compare with ~는/은. In all situations, ~이 is attached to nouns in which the last letter is
a consonant (like ~은) and ~가 is attached to nouns in which the last letter is a vowel
(like ~는). For example:

책 ends in a consonant (ㄱ), so “~이” is added: "책이."


소파 ends in a vowel (ㅏ), so “~가” is added: "소파가."

But, in what situations should we use ~이/가? Before we get to that, I would like to teach
you how to use the word “있다” in sentences. Let’s get started.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 1


있다: To have
The word “있다” has many meanings. To a beginner of Korean, we can simplify and
generalize these meanings into two forms or usages:

있다 = to have
있다 = to be at a location

Let’s talk about the first usage, “to have.” In English, “to have” is a verb that can act on
an object. For example:

I have a pen
I have a car

This usage of 있다 in Korean is an adjective. This is hard for a learner to wrap their head
around. 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 ~을/를 attached to it if the predicating word in a
sentence is an adjective (because ~을/를 indicates an object in a sentence). If this weren’t
the case, we could do the following to make the sentence “I have a pen:”

I 는 pen 을 있다
나는 + 펜을 + 있다
나는 펜을 있다 = I have a pen

However, the sentence above is incorrect. 있다 is an adjective and cannot act on an


object like this. Therefore, the use of ~을 on “펜” is incorrect. To get around this, we can
attach ~이/가 to the object instead of ~을/를 in sentences with 있다. This is one usage of
the particle ~이/가; that is, to indicate the thing that a person “has” in sentences with
“있다.” Look at the following example sentences:

나는 펜이 있다 = I have a pen
(나는 펜이 있어 / 저는 펜이 있어요)
Note:
The use of 있다 is for sentences when
나는 차가 있다 = I have a car you say "someone has", which
(나는 차가 있어 / 저는 차가 있어요) translates to "to have". It wont be used
on other verbs because it is an adj.
Instead of using 를/을, you use 이/가.
나는 잡지가 있다 = I have a magazine
(나는 잡지가 있어 / 저는 잡지가 있어요)

나는 가방이 있다 = I have a backpack


(나는 가방이 있어 / 저는 가방이 있어요)
Again, note that ~이/가 is being used to indicate the object instead of ~을/를.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 2


Remember that the example sentences provided in these lessons are not conjugated.
While conjugations are provided (one formal and one informal) 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 worrying about conjugating sentences and using honorifics.

A Particle to Indicate a Place or Time: ~에


In the previous lesson, you learned how to use the particles ~은/는 and ~을/를 to denote
the purpose of certain words in a Korean sentence. The particle ~에 is also used to denote
certain words in a sentence. Specifically, ~에 denotes a place or time. When used to
identify a place, it is similar to the underlined words in the English sentences below:
I am at school
I went to the park
I put a sticker on the wall
I put water into the bottle
I put the baby in the crib

~에 is also used to denote the time in which something happens. This is similar to the
underlined words in the English sentences below:

I ate breakfast at 10:00


I will go to school on Saturday
I was born in 1990

Yes, it is possible to have ~에 used twice in a sentence. For example, the Korean
translation of the sentence “I went to the park at 10:00” would have ~에 attached to the
word “park” and “10:00.”

It would be too much to discuss how ~에 can be used in all of these situations in this
lesson. In this lesson (just below), you will learn how to use ~에 to indicate where one is
– in order to create the sentence “I am at school” from above. In later lessons, as you
learn more complex words and grammar, you will see how ~에 can be used in the other
situations. For example, in the next lesson we will introduce you to sentences that use
~에 to denote a place in which one goes to. In Lesson 6, you will see examples of
sentences that use ~에 to denote that something happens at a particular time of the day. In
Lesson 8, you will learn how to attach ~에 to days of the week. In later lessons, you will
learn how to create all of the sentences shown above.

For now, let’s focus on the sentence “I am at school,” which will require you to learn
about 있다.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 3


있다: To be at a location
있다 can also be used to indicate that something/someone is “at a location.” In Lesson 1
you learned about the particle ~에 in Korean. You learned that this particle is used to
indicate the place and/or time of something in a sentence. Therefore, “~에” is often used
in sentences with “있다” to indicate the location of something/someone.

For example: I am at school


If we wanted to write this sentence with Korean structure and particles, we would write:
I 는 school 에 am at
나는 + 학교에 + 있다

This is irrelevant to you now, but when 있다 is used like this, it is again seen as an
adjective. This is confusing, but or now, try to ignore it. I begin to discuss this more in
Lesson 5 when I discuss the conjugations of 있다.

나는 학교에 있다 = I am at school
(나는 학교에 있어 / 저는 학교에 있어요) Note:
In Summary, 있다 is used in part
with 에 when telling time or place
Another example:
나는 캐나다에 있다 = I am in Canada
(나는 캐나다에 있어 / 저는 캐나다에 있어요)

Notice the very big difference in meaning between the following sentences, and the role
that particles have in each case. Because 있다 has two different meanings, changing the
particles in a sentence can drastically change the meaning. For example:

나는 학교가 있다 = I have a school – this could make sense, but in most situations, you
would probably want to say:
나는 학교에 있다 = I am at school Note:
Particles 가/이 are used when
나는 잡지가 있다 = I have a magazine determining ownership and 에 is
used when determining the time or
나는 잡지에 있다 = I am at the magazine (this doesn’t make sense) location of someone/thing

We can also use position words to indicate specifically where someone/something is with
respect to another noun. The most common position words are:

안 = inside
위 = on top
밑 = below
옆 = beside Can Use 에
뒤 = behind
앞 = in front

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 4


These words are placed after a noun to indicate where an object is with respect to that
noun. The particle “~에” is then attached directly to the position words. For example:

학교 앞에 = in front of the school


사람 뒤에 = behind the person
집 옆에 = beside the house
저 건물 뒤에 = behind that building

These constructions can now act as the location in a sentence:

나는 학교에 있다 = I am at school

나는 학교 앞에 있다 = I am in-front of the school


(나는 학교 앞에 있어 / 저는 학교 앞에 있어요)

Let’s make some more sentences:


나는 학교 뒤에 있다 = I am behind the school
(나는 학교 뒤에 있어 / 저는 학교 뒤에 있어요)

나는 학교 옆에 있다 = I am beside the school


(나는 학교 옆에 있어 / 저는 학교 옆에 있어요)

나는 은행 안에 있다 = I am inside the bank


(나는 은행 안에 있어 / 저는 은행 안에 있어요)

개는 집 안에 있다 = The dog is in the house


(개는 집 안에 있어 / 개는 집 안에 있어요)

고양이는 의자 밑에 있다 = The cat is under the chair


(고양이는 의자 밑에 있어요)

나는 캐나다에 있다 = I am in Canada
(나는 캐나다에 있어 / 저는 캐나다에 있어요)

식당은 은행 옆에 있다 = The restaurant is next to the bank


(식당은 은행 옆에 있어 / 식당은 은행 옆에 있어요)

호텔은 학교 옆에 있다 = The hotel is next to the school


(호텔은 학교 옆에 있어 / 호텔은 학교 옆에 있어요)

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 5


You have learned that ~이/가 can be attached to nouns in sentences to indicate the object
that a person “has.” ~이/가 can also be used to indicate the subject of a sentence, similar
to ~는/은. What’s the difference? Get ready to embark on the most confusing
grammatical principle to foreign learners of Korean. So difficult and confusing, I wish I
could teach you this concept in Lesson 100. Unfortunately, you will see ~이/가 used in
almost every sentence – and thus – absolutely needs to be described early. Let’s get
started.

~이/가 as a Subject Marker


One of the most difficult things for a new learner of Korean to understand is the
difference between the particles ~는/은 and ~이/가. Earlier in this Lesson, you learned
that you should use ~이/가 on the object that a person “has” when using “있다.”

In addition to this, there are more functions of ~이/가 that you should know about.
In Lesson 1, you learned that you should add ~는/은 to the subject of the sentence. To
use an example using the grammar taught earlier in this Lesson, you could say:

고양이는 집 뒤에 있다 = The cat is behind the house


(고양이는 집 뒤에 있어 / 고양이는 집 뒤에 있어요)

In this sentence, notice that the particle ~는/은 indicates that the “cat” is the subject.

However the sentence above could also be written like this:


고양이가 집 뒤에 있다 = The cat is behind the house
(고양이가 집 뒤에 있어 / 고양이가 집 뒤에 있어요)

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. This entirely
depends on the situation of the conversation (what was said before, how it was said,
etc…).

The reason why they could be identical:


고양이는 집 뒤에 있다 = The cat is behind the house
고양이가 집 뒤에 있다 = The cat is behind the house

~이/가, like ~는/은, is added to the subject of the sentence. In some situations, there is no
difference in meaning or feel between adding ~이/가 or ~는/은 to the subject.

The reason why they could be subtly different:


~는/은 has a role of indicating that something is being compared with something else.
The noun that “~는/은” is added to is being compared. In this example:

고양이는 집 뒤에 있다 = The cat is behind the house

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 6


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 is 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:
고양이가 집 뒤에 있다 = The cat is behind the house
…is simply stating a fact, and “the cat” is not being compared to anything.

Another example:
커피가 냉장고에 있다 = 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)

커피는 냉장고에 있다 = 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).
------------------------------------
You also might be wondering why “안” isn’t used if we are indicating that the coffee is in
the fridge. In cases like this, where the location being described happens to be “inside”
of something, “안” can be omitted. You can see the similarities of using “안” and not
using it in the following English and Korean sentences:

커피가 냉장고에 있다 = The coffee is in the fridge


커피가 냉장고 안에 있다 = The coffee is inside the fridge
------------------------------------
In both pairs of examples (using ~는/은 or ~이/가), the translation does not change by
altering the subject particle. Rather, the only thing that changes is the subtle feeling or
nuance that something is being compared.

Note that this “comparative” function of ~는/은 can be used in much more complicated
sentences, and can be attached to other grammatical principles – neither of which you
have learned yet. In future lessons, not only will you see examples of increasing
complexity applying this concept, but its usage with other grammatical principles will be
introduced specifically. You need to remember that the example sentences given at this
level are incredibly simple and do not really reflect actual sentences that you are likely to
hear as one-off sentences from Korean people. Real speech is much more complex and it
usually is an intricate combination of many clauses and grammatical principles.

Our lessons don’t really get into the use of multiple clauses until Lesson 24. Creating
sentences with more than one clause opens an entire other can of worms that you don’t
have the tools to deal with yet. I encourage you to NOT read ahead to that lesson. Rather,
I encourage you to keep the information from this lesson in mind as you eventually do
reach that level.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 7


As you progress through our Lessons, you will see both “~는/은” and “~이/가” 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,
prior context, or explanation of the situation), there is no way to tell if something is being
compared to – and thus – their usage is usually arbitrary. That being said – every Korean
example sentence throughout all of our lessons is always checked by a native Korean
speaker to make sure that nothing is awkward (or incorrect).

In addition to the distinction discussed in this lesson, there are other situations where it
might be more appropriate to use ~이/가 or ~은/는. However, I am not able to fully
describe the distinction between these two particles with the limited amount of grammar
(and vocabulary) understanding you have to this point. The purpose of this lesson is to
give you a general understanding of ~이/가, and to introduce you to the comparison
between ~는/은.

At this point, I would like you to continue to Lesson 3 to continue learning other
grammatical principles you need to deepen your understanding of Korean in general.

In Lessons 17 and 22, we will come back to this problem and dive into more ways we can
distinguish the functions of ~이/가 and ~는/은. I want to stress that I do not want you to
read these now, but you should know that there is more to distinguishing ~는/은 and
~이/가 than is described here.

If you haven’t reached Lesson 17 (and especially if you haven’t even moved on to Lesson
3) you won’t understand what is being described in that lesson. Being able to fully
understand the difference between ~이/가 and ~는/은 is important, but not as important
(at the moment) as understanding other aspects of Korean grammar. I can’t stress this
enough – your understanding of the difference between the two will progress with your
Korean development in general.

The good thing is, even if you make a mistake with the usages of ~이/가 and ~는/은
(either because you are confused or because you haven’t reached the later lessons yet),
99.9% of the time, the listener will be able to understand exactly what you are trying to
express. Likewise, if you listen to somebody speaking, you will be able to understand
what they are trying to say regardless of if you have learned the more complex usages of
~이/가 and ~는/은. The difference between these two particles is about nuance and does
not dramatically change the meaning of the sentence.

Making a mistake between other particles, however, would cause other people to
misunderstand you. For example, using ~를/을 instead of ~는/은 would (most likely)
make your sentence incomprehensible.

That’s it for this lesson. Please keep all of this information in your mind for future
lessons. We will continue this discussion in Lesson 17. For now, please continue to
Lesson 3.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1: Lesson 2 8


Nouns: Verbs:
음식 = food 먹다 = to eat
케이크 = cake 가다 = to go
공항 = airport 만나다 = to meet
병원 = hospital 닫다 = to close
공원 = park 열다 = to open
한국어 = Korean (language) 원하다 = to want (an object)
머리 = head 만들다 = to make
다리 = leg 하다 = to do
손가락 = finger 말하다 = to speak
귀 = ear 이해하다 = to understand
팔 = arm 좋아하다 = to like
눈 = eye
입 = mouth Adjectives:
배 = stomach 크다 = to be big
버스 = bus 작다 = to be small
배 = boat 새롭다 = to be new
우리 = we/us 낡다 = to be old (not age)
비싸다 = to be expensive
Adverbs: 싸다 = to be not expensive, to be cheap
아주 = very 아름답다 = to be beautiful
매우 = very 뚱뚱하다 = to be fat, to be chubby
너무 = too (often used to mean ‘very’) 길다 = to be long
좋다 = to be good
Some Quick Notes about Korean Verbs and Adjectives
Now it is time to start learning things that you can apply to any verb or any adjective.
There are a few things you need to know about Korean verbs and adjectives:
1) I said this before (twice) but I’m going to say it again. Every Korean sentence must
end in either a verb or an adjective (this includes 이다 and 있다). Every sentence
absolutely must have a verb or adjective at the end of the sentence.

2) You should notice (it took me months to notice) that every Korean verb and adjective
ends with the syllable ‘다.’ 100% of the time, the last syllable in a verb or adjective must
be ‘다.’ Look up at the vocabulary from this lesson if you don’t believe me.

3) In addition to ending in ‘다’ many verbs and adjectives end with the two syllables
‘하다.’ ‘하다’ means ‘do.’ Verbs ending in 하다 are amazing, because you can simply
eliminate the ‘하다’ to make the noun form of that verb/adjective.
Confused? I was at first too. In fact, I don’t think I knew this until 3 months after I started
studying Korean – but it is something so essential to learning the language. It is confusing
to English speakers because we don’t realize that words can have a verb/adjective form
AND a noun form.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 1
For example:
행복하다 = happy
행복 = happiness

성공하다 = succeed
성공 = success

말하다 = speak
말 = speech/words More Vocab

성취하다 = achieve
성취 = achievement

취득하다 = acquire
취득 = acquisition

You don’t need to memorize those words yet (they are difficult), but it is important for
you to realize that ‘하다’ can be removed from words in order to create nouns.

Verbs/adjectives that end in "~하다" are typically of Chinese origin and have an
equivalent Hanja (한자) form. Verbs that do not end in "~하다" are of Korean origin and
do not have a Hanja form. If you can speak Chinese, you will probably have an advantage
at learning more difficult Korean vocabulary, as a lot of difficult Korean words have a
Chinese origin.

Korean Verbs
We have already talked about verbs a little bit in previous lessons, but nothing has been
formally taught. You learned the basic verb sentence structure in Lesson 1. Let’s look at
this again. If you want to say “I eat food” you should know how to use the particles 는/은
and 를/을:

“I eat food”

I 는 food 를 eat

To make a sentence, you simply need to substitute the English words with Korean words:

저는 + 음식을 + 먹다
저는 음식을 먹다 = I eat food

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 2
Although the structure of the sentences presented in this lesson is perfect, the verbs are
not conjugated, and thus, not perfect. You will learn about conjugating in Lesson 5 and
Lesson 6. Before learning how to conjugate, however, it is essential that you understand
the word-order of these sentences. However, because of some strange Korean
grammatical rules, the sentences provided in the "Adjectives" section are technically
perfect but are presented in an uncommon (but simplest) conjugation pattern. Again, you
will learn about these conjugations in Lesson 5 and Lesson 6. For now, try to understand
the word order of the sentences and how the verbs/adjectives are being used.
As with previous lessons, conjugated examples (one formal and one informal) are
provided beneath the un-conjugated example:

Let’s look at more examples:


나는 케이크를 만들다 = I make a cake
(나는 케이크를 만들어 / 저는 케이크를 만들어요)

나는 배를 원하다 = I want a boat


(나는 배를 원해 / 저는 배를 원해요)

나는 한국어를 말하다 = I speak Korean


(나는 한국어를 말해 / 저는 한국어를 말해요)

나는 공원에 가다 = I go to the park (notice the particle 에)


(나는 공원에 가 / 저는 공원에 가요)

나는 문을 닫다 = I close the door


(나는 문을 닫아 / 저는 문을 닫아요)

나는 창문을 열다 = I open the window


(나는 창문을 열어 / 저는 창문을 열어요)

Remember that sentences with verbs don’t necessarily need to have an object in them:
저는 이해하다 = I understand
(나는 이해해 / 저는 이해해요)

Some verbs by default cannot act on an object. Words like: sleep, go, die, etc. You cannot
say something like "I slept home", or "I went restaurant", or "I died her." You can use
nouns in sentences with those verbs, but only with the use of other particles - some of
which you have learned already (~에) and some that you will learn in later lessons. With
the use of other particles you can say things like:

I slept at home
I went to the restaurant
I died with her

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 3
We will get into more complicated particles in later lessons, but here I want to focus on
the purpose of ~를/을 and its function as an object particle.

Korean Adjectives
Korean adjectives, just like Korean verbs are placed at the end of a sentence. The main
difference between verbs and adjectives is that an adjective can never act on an object.
Notice in the sentences below that there is no object being acted on.
Adjectives are very easy to use. Just put them into the sentence with your subject:
(Remember that the examples in parentheses show sentences that have been conjugated
which you have not learned yet.)

나는 아름답다 = I am beautiful
(나는 아름다워 / 저는 아름다워요)

나는 작다 = I am small
(나는 작아 / 저는 작아요)

이 버스는 크다 = This bus is big


(이 버스는 커 / 이 버스는 커요)

그 병원은 새롭다 = That hospital is new


(그 병원은 새로워 / 그 병원은 새로워요)

There is one confusing thing about translating sentences with Korean adjectives to
English. Notice that in all examples above, the words "am/is/are/etc..." are used. In
English, these words must be used when using an adjective:

I am fat
He is fat
They are fat

Remember, the translation for "am/is/are" to Korean is "이다." However, you do not use
"이다" when writing a sentence like this in Korean. Within the meaning of Korean
adjective is "is/am/are." Early learners are always confused by this. The confusion stems
from the fact that it is done differently in English and Korean. Please, from here on,
abandon what you know of grammar based on English - it will only hold you back.

Clarification:
When making Sentences like this, the author is basically saying that 이다 is already within/in
part/integrated in the adjective.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 4
의 Possessive Particle
Note: The pronunciation of the letter "ㅢ" can change depending on how and when it is
used. You might want to check out the section where I discuss the pronunciation of ㅢ in
the Pronunciation Guide of Unit 0.

You already know that ‘I’ in Korean is 저/나. You also know the translation for various
objects in Korean.

"의" is a particle that indicates that one is the owner/possessor of another object. It has
the same role as " 's" in English (for most examples). For example:

저의 책 = my book
저의 차 = My car
저의 손가락 = my finger
그 사람의 차 = That person's car
의사의 탁자 = The doctor's table
선생님의 차 = the teacher’s car

You can use these words in sentences you already know (with verbs and adjectives):

선생님의 차는 크다 = The teacher’s car is big


(선생님의 차는 커 / 선생님의 차는 커요)

나는 선생님의 차를 원하다 = I want the teacher’s car


(나는 선생님의 차를 원해 / 저는 선생님의 차를 원해요)

나의 손가락은 길다 = my finger is long


(나의 손가락은 길어 / 저의 손가락은 길어요)

그 여자의 눈은 아름답다 = That woman’s eyes are beautiful


(그 여자의 눈은 아름다워 / 그 여자의 눈은 아름다워요)

You will find that words like “my/our/their/his/her” are often omitted from sentences. As
you will learn continuously throughout your Korean studies, Korean people love
shortening their sentences wherever possible. Whenever something can be assumed by
context, words are often omitted from sentences to make them more simple. For example:

나는 나의 친구를 만나다 = I meet my friend


(나는 나의 친구를 만나 / 저는 저의 친구를 만나요)

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 5
Can be written as the following:

나는 친구를 만나다 = I meet (my/a) friend


(나는 친구를 만나 / 저는 친구를 만나요)

In this case (and many others like it) you are clearly meeting “your” friend, so the word
“my” can be omitted from the sentence.

Always try to stay away from translating sentences directly, and try to focus more on
translating sentences based on context as done above.

좋다 and 좋아하다
The word 좋다 in Korean is an adjective that means “good.” Because 좋다 is an
adjective we can use it just like any other adjective:

이 음식은 좋다 = this food is good


(이 음식은 좋아 / 이 음식은 좋아요)

그 선생님은 좋다 = that teacher is good


(그 선생님은 좋아 / 그 선생님은 좋아요)

이 학교는 좋다 = This school is good


(이 학교는 좋아 / 이 학교는 좋아요)

There is also 좋아하다 which is a verb meaning ‘to like.’ Because 좋아하다 is a verb,
can use it just like any other verb:

나는 이 음식을 좋아하다 = I like this food


(나는 이 음식을 좋아해 / 저는 이 음식을 좋아해요)

나는 그 선생님을 좋아하다 = I like that teacher


(나는 그 선생님을 좋아해 / 저는 그 선생님을 좋아해요)

좋아하다 gets formed by removing ‘다’ from 좋다 and adding 아 + 하다. There is a
reason for why this is done, and there is an explanation for how it is done - but you do not
need to know this yet. For now, just understand that:

좋다 is an adjective which cannot act on an object


좋아하다 is a verb which can act on an object

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 6
We, Us, and Our (우리)
At this point I would also like to introduce you to the word “우리” which you can see
from the vocabulary list of this lesson translates to “us” or “we.” In English, even though
they are technically the same word, the usage of “us” or “we” depends on its location
within the sentence it is used in. Just like “I” and “me”, if the word is the subject of a
sentence, “we” is used. For example:

I like you
We like you

However, if the word is the object in a sentence, the word “us” is used. For example:

He likes me
He likes us

In Korean, they do not make this distinction, and “우리” is used in both situations. For
example:

우리는 너를 좋아하다 = We like you


(우리는 너를 좋아해)
I deliberately didn't include a formal version of the sentence above because it is usually
awkward to say the word "you" politely in Korean. We'll get to this in a later lesson.

선생님은 우리를 좋아하다 = The teacher likes us


(선생님은 우리를 좋아해 / 선생님은 우리를 좋아해요)

By placing the possessive particle “의” after “우리” we can create the meaning of “our”.
While this can be done, I feel it is much more common to omit this particle when it is
used with “우리.” In fact, the particle “의” is very commonly omitted from words other
than “우리” as well. However, I don’t suggest thinking about doing this until you have a
better grasp of the language. At this point, I only suggest that you do this with “우리.”
For example:

우리 선생님은 남자이다 = Our teacher is a man


(우리 선생님은 남자야 | 우리 선생님은 남자예요)

우리 집은 크다 = Our house is big


(우리 집은 커 | 우리 집은 커요)

A formal version of “우리” is “저희”. However, even in formal situations it is acceptable


to use “우리”. At this point, you haven’t even begun to learn about the different levels of
formality of Korean, so I don’t want you to get too worried about this word.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 7
Nouns: Verbs:
길 = street 오다 = to come
거리 = street, road 끝내다 = to finish something
손 = hand 춤추다 = to dance
영어 = English 알다 = to know
택시 = taxi 걷다 = to walk
열차 = train 배우다 = to learn
역 = train/subway station 연습하다 = to practice
버스 정류장 = bus stop 생각하다 = to think
비행기 = airplane 살다 = to live
자전거 = bicycle
아내 = wife Adjectives:
아이 = child 위험하다 = to be dangerous
아들 = son 잘생기다 = to be handsome
딸 = daughter 못생기다 = to be ugly
남편 = husband 피곤하다 = to be tired
아버지 = father 다르다 = to be different
어머니 = mother 슬프다 = to be sad
편지 = letter 맛있다 = to be delicious
맛 = taste 재미있다 = to be funny, to be fun
식사 = meal 많다 = to be many, to be a lot of
아침 = morning 행복하다 = to be happy
아침식사 = breakfast
Adverbs and Other Words:
물 = water
거기 = there
사과 = apple
저기 = there (when farther away)
돈 = money
지금 = now
Passive Verbs: 하지만 = but
끝나다 = to be finished
Common greeting words
I wish I could tell you not to worry about these. Of course, I can tell you “don’t worry
about these,” but I don’t think that will do. When learning a language, everybody wants
to learn these words as soon as possible. I understand that completely, but I have
purposely waited to teach you these types of words. In fact, I still don’t want to show
them to you – but at this point I am sure you are asking yourself “I’ve gotten this far and I
still don’t even know how to say ‘goodbye’ yet!”

In Korean, it is much easier to understand these words/phrases if you also understand


why they are used the way they are. If you can’t memorize them, that is okay. I still
maintain the position that you should put off memorizing these until you can
understand the grammar within them.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 1
안녕히 가세요 = Goodbye (said to a person leaving)
안녕히 계세요 = Goodbye (said when you leave)
만나서 반갑습니다 = Nice to meet you
실례합니다 = Excuse me
죄송합니다/미안합니다 = Sorry
제발 = Please
이름이 뭐예요? = What is your name?
저의 이름은 ______이다 = My name is ______
어디에서 왔어요? = Where are you from?
저는 _______에서 왔어요 = I am from ________

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s start studying some actual material.

Using Adjectives ~ㄴ/은


Alright, this won’t help you understand those greeting words any better, but what you are
about to learn is a major step in learning Korean. You should remember these two
important facts from the previous lesson:

1. All sentences must end with either a verb or adjective


2. All verbs/adjectives end with the syllable ‘다’
Although both of those are true (and always will be), let’s look at them more deeply:

All sentences must end with either a verb or adjective


- Yes, but verbs and adjectives can ALSO go elsewhere in a sentence. In the previous
lesson, you learned this sentence:

나는 배를 원하다 = I want a boat


(나는 배를 원해 / 저는 배를 원해요)

But what if you want to say: “I want a big boat.” In that sentence, there is a verb and an
adjective. Where should we put the adjective? In Korean when describing a noun, the
adjective is placed in the same position as in English. For example:

나는 배를 원하다 = I want a boat


나는 big 배를 원하다 = I want a big boat

Simple. So we just substitute the Korean word for big (크다) into that sentence?:

나는 크다 배를 원하다 = Not correct. Not by a long shot.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 2
Remember that second rule I taught you?:
All verbs/adjectives end with the syllable ‘다’

- Yes, but the version of the word with ‘다’ as the last syllable is simply the dictionary
form of that word and is rarely used. Every verb/adjective in Korean has a ‘stem,’ which
is made up of everything preceding 다 in the dictionary form of the word. Let’s look at
some examples:

크다 = 크 (stem) + 다
작다 = 작 (stem) + 다
좋다 = 좋 (stem) + 다
배우다 = 배우 (stem) + 다

When you deal with a verb/adjective, you eliminate ~다 and add something to the stem.
What you add depends on what you are doing. When you want to make an adjective that
can describe a noun, for example:

small boy
big boat
soft hand
delicious hamburger

you must eliminate ‘~다’ and add ~ㄴ or ~은 to the stem of the adjective.
Words in which the last syllable of the stem ends in a vowel (크다/비싸다/싸다) you
add ~ㄴ to the last syllable. For example:

Word Stem Adjective that can describe a noun Example Translation


크다 크 큰 큰배 Big boat
비싸다 비싸 비싼 비싼 음식 Expensive food
싸다 싸 싼 싼것 Cheap thing

Words in which the last syllable of the stem ends in a consonant (작다/좋다/많다) you
add ~은 to the stem. For example:

Word Stem Adjective that can describe a noun Example Translation


작다 작 작은 작은 남자 Small man
좋다 좋 좋은 좋은 아들 Good son
많다 많 많은 많은 돈 A lot of money

Looking back to what we were trying to write before:

I want a big boat = 저는 크다 배를 원하다 = incorrect


I want a big boat = 저는 큰 배를 원하다 = correct

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 3
The key to understanding this is being able to understand the difference between the
following:

음식은 비싸다 = The food is expensive


비싼 음식 = expensive food

The first example is a sentence. The second example is not a sentence. The second
sentence needs more words in order for it to be a sentence. You need to add either a verb
or adjective that predicates the noun of "expensive food." For example:

나는 비싼 음식을 먹다 = I eat expensive food


(나는 비싼 음식을 먹어 / 저는 비싼 음식을 먹어요)
The verb "to eat" predicates this sentence.

저는 비싼 음식을 좋아하다 = I like expensive food


(나는 비싼 음식을 좋아해 / 저는 비싼 음식을 좋아해요)
The verb "to like" predicates this sentence.

비싼 음식은 맛있다 = Expensive food is delicious


(비싼 음식은 맛있어 / 비싼 음식은 맛있어요)
The adjective "to be delicious" predicates this sentence. Notice that there is no object in
this sentence.

Remember, for the last time - you do not know how to conjugate verbs and adjectives at
the end of a sentence yet. This will be introduced in the next lesson. Because you do not
know how to conjugate verbs/adjectives at the ends of sentences, examples with un-
conjugated forms are presented in this lesson. Remember that these sentences are
technically incorrect, but understanding them is crucial to your understanding of the
Korean sentence structure.

As with the previous three lessons, I have provided conjugated examples below each un-
conjugated example. You will probably not be able to understand these conjugations.)

More examples of using adjectives to describe nouns within a sentence:

나는 작은 집에 가다 = I go to the small house


(나는 작은 집에 가 / 저는 작은 집에 가요)

나는 큰 차를 원하다 = I want a big car


(나는 큰 차를 원해 / 저는 큰 차를 원해요)

나는 잘생긴 남자를 만나다 = I meet a handsome man


(나는 잘생긴 남자를 만나 / 저는 잘생긴 남자를 만나요)

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 4
나는 많은 돈이 있다 = I have a lot of money
(나는 많은 돈이 있어 / 저는 많은 돈이 있어요)

나는 뚱뚱한 학생을 만나다 = I meet a fat student


(나는 뚱뚱한 학생을 만나 / 저는 뚱뚱한 학생을 만나요)

In Lessons 1 and 2, I explained that adjectives cannot "act" on objects. Many learners
look at the sentences above and say "Hey! Those sentences have an object and an
adjective!" Adjectives cannot act on an object to predicate a sentence. This means you
cannot use a sentence like this (in either language):

나는 집을 작다 = I small house

However, I didn't say anything about adjectives and objects being used in the same
sentence. Adjectives can be used to describe an object that is being predicated by a verb.
I will continue to talk about this in the examples below.

In the examples above, notice the difference in function between when an adjective is
used to describe a noun compared to when it is used to predicate a sentence. For example:
----------------------
나는 작은 집에 가다 = I go to the small house
(나는 작은 집에 가 / 저는 작은 집에 가요)
The verb "to go" predicates this sentence.

그 집은 작다 = That house is small


(그 집은 작아 / 그 집은 작아요)
The adjective "to be small" predicates this sentence. Notice that there is no object in this sentence.
----------------------
저는 큰 차를 원하다 = I want a big car
(나는 큰 차를 원해 / 저는 큰 차를 원해요)
The verb "to want" predicates this sentence.

이 차는 크다 = This car is big


(이 차는 커 / 이 차는 커요)
The adjective "to be big" predicates this sentence. Notice that there is no object in this sentence.
----------------------

In each of the examples above, even though the adjective always acts as a descriptive
word, in the cases when they are placed before nouns to describe them - those nouns are
able to be placed anywhere in the sentence (for example, as the subject, object, location,
or other places).

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 5
This same thing happens in English, where I can have a simple sentence like this:

남자는 음식을 먹다 = The man eats food


(남자는 음식을 먹어 / 남자는 음식을 먹어요)

I can use adjectives to describe each noun in the sentence. For example:

행복한 여자는 작은 차 안에 있다 = The happy girl is inside the small car


(행복한 여자는 작은 차 안에 있어 / 행복한 여자는 작은 차 안에 있어요)

You will see some adjectives that end in "~있다." The most common of these for a
beginner are:

맛있다 = delicious
재미있다 = fun, funny

When an adjective ends in “~있다” like this, instead of attaching ~ㄴ/은 to the stem, you
must attach ~는 to the stem. For example:

그 남자는 재미있는 남자이다 = that man is a funny man


(그 남자는 재미있는 남자야 / 그 남자는 재미있는 남자예요)

나는 맛있는 음식을 먹다 = I eat delicious food


(나는 맛있는 음식을 먹어 / 저는 맛있는 음식을 먹어요)

The difference here is due to what I call the "~는 것" principle. For now, you do not need
to think about why ~는 is added instead of ~ㄴ/은. It is sufficient at this point to just
memorize it as an exception. The concept behind this grammatical rule is introduced in
Lesson 26 and I continue to discuss it into other Lessons in Unit 2. This concept is related
to verbs being able to describe nouns. For example:

"The man who I met yesterday will go to the park that I want to go to"

However, this is very complex and is the whole basis to the ~는 것 principle that I
mentioned earlier. As I said, you will begin to learn about this in Lesson 26.

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 6
To be a lot of: 많다
A good way to practice your understanding of how adjectives can be used to describe a
noun in a sentence or to predicate an entire sentence is to apply your knowledge to the
word "많다." 많다 is an adjective that describes that there is "many' or "a lot" of
something. Its translation to English usually depends on how it is used in a sentence. For
example, when used to describe nouns in a sentence, it can be used in the following way:

나는 많은 음식을 먹다 = I eat a lot of food


(나는 많은 음식을 먹어 / 저는 많은 음식을 먹어요)

나는 많은 돈이 있다 = I have a lot of money


(나는 많은 돈이 있어 / 저는 많은 돈이 있어요)

나는 많은 아내가 있다 = I have a lot of wives (ha!)


(나는 많은 아내가 있어 / 저는 많은 아내가 있어요)

Now, if we use "많다" to predicate a sentence, it can be used like this:

사람이 많다

In your Korean studies, you need to realize that it is never effective to think of a Korean
sentence as an exact translation in English. The fact is, Korean and English grammar are
completely different, and trying to force the rules/structure of English into Korean is
unnatural. If we stuck with the translation of "a lot of" for the meaning of "많다" and
forced the English translation to the sentence "사람이 많다", we would get:

People are a lot of

... But that clearly is not accurate. Instead, what is the sentence "사람이 많다" describing?
It is describing that there is a lot of something, therefore, the translation should be:

사람이 많다 = there is a lot of people


(사람이 많아 / 사람이 많아요)

Therefore, when 많다 predicates a sentence, its translation is usually "There is/are a lot
of...". Here is another example:

음식이 많다 = there is a lot of food


(음식이 많아 / 음식이 많아요)

Of course, this can be applied to very complex sentences as well, but this is just the very
beginning. Eventually, you will be able to make a sentence like:

There are a lot of singers who become famous and spend all of their money too quickly

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 7
This sentence as well would also end in "많다." The structure would basically be:

(singers who become famous and spend all of their money too quickly)가 많다

You are still very far from understanding how complex sentences like that work, but I
want to show you that the content you learned in this lesson brings you one step closer.

Also notice that the particles 이/가 are attached to the subjects in sentences ending with
"많다." There are some words where the use of the particles ~이/가 on the subject of the
sentence is more natural than the use of ~는/은. 많다 is one of these words. We will
continue to tell you in which situations it is more natural to use ~이/가 instead of ~은/는
as we progress through our lessons.

~ Particle 도
~도 is another particle that is very useful in Korean. It has the meaning of “too/as well.”
It can replace the subject particles (는/은) OR the object particles (를/을), depending on
what you are saying “too” with. For example:

저도 한국어를 말하다 = I speak Korean as well (In addition to other people)


(나도 한국어를 말해 / 저도 한국어를 말해요)

which is different from:

저는 한국어도 말하다 = I speak Korean as well (in addition to other languages)


(나는 한국어도 말해 / 저는 한국어도 말해요)

Make sure you notice the difference between the previous two examples. In English these
two are written the same, but sound different when speaking.

In the first example, you are emphasizing that YOU also speak Korean, in addition to
other people that you are talking about. In the second example, you are emphasizing that
(in addition to other languages), you also speak Korean.

See the two examples below for the same issue:

저도 사과를 먹다 = I eat apples as well


(나도 사과를 먹어 / 저도 사과를 먹어요)

저는 사과도 먹다 = I eat apples as well


(나는 사과도 먹어 / 저는 사과도 먹어요)

Notice the difference in pronunciation in English. The first one has the meaning of “other
people eat some apples, but I too eat some apples.”

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 8
The second example has the meaning of “I eat some other food as well, but I also eat
apples.” It is important to recognize that whatever noun "~도" is attached to (the subject
or object) is the thing that is being expressed as "too."

More examples:
나도 그것을 알다 = I know that, too
(나도 그것을 알아 / 저도 그것을 알아요)

나도 피곤하다 = I am tired, too


(나도 피곤해 / 저도 피곤해요)

나의 딸도 행복하다 = My daughter is happy, too


(나의 딸도 행복해 / 저의 딸도 행복해요)

© HowtoStudyKorean.com – Unit 1 9