HANGEUL (system; the separate characters are called 자모 (字母))
이 : i
위 : wi
에 : e
얘 : ye
웨 : we
외 : ui/oe
애 : ae
얘 : yae
왜 : wae
아 : a
야 : ya
와 : wa
으 : eu
우 : u
유 : yu
어 : eo
예 : yeo
워 : wo
오 : o
요 : yo
의 : ui
ㅂ : p/b
ㅍ : p/ph
ㅃ : pp
ㄷ : d
ㅌ : t
ㄸ : tt
ㅅ : s
ㅆ : ss
ㅈ : j
ㅊ : ch
ㅉ : jj
ㄱ : g/k
ㅋ : k/kh
ㄲ : kk
ㅁ : m
ㄴ : n
ㅇ : ng
ㄹ : r/l
ㅎ : h
PARTS OF SPEECH
The 9 pumsa system divides words into nine categories, each of which can be referred to in the more common Sino-Korean terms, or by their native Korean terms.
- 명사(名詞) myeongsa / 이름씨 ireumssi (nouns)
- 대명사(代名詞) daemyeongsa / 대이름씨 daeirumssi (pronouns)
- 수사(數詞) susa / 셈씨 semssi (number words)
- 동사(動詞) dongsa / 움직씨 umjikssi (action verbs)
- 형용사(形容詞) hyeongyongsa / 그림씨 geurimssi (descriptive verbs or adjectives)
- 관형사(冠形詞) gwanhyeongsa / 매김씨 maegimssi (determiners, prenouns, or indeclinable adjectives)
- 부사(副詞) busa / 어찌씨 eojjissi (adverbs)
Other content words
- 감탄사(感歎詞) gamtansa / 느낌씨 neukkimssi (interjections or exclamations)
- 조사(助詞) josa / 토씨 tossi (particles or postpositions)
Both cardinal and ordinal numbers are grouped into their own part of speech.
Descriptive verbs and action verbs are classified separately despite sharing essentially the same conjugation.
Verb endings constitute a large and rich class of morphemes, indicating such things in a sentence as tense, mood, aspect, speech level (of which there are 7 in Korean), and honorifics.
Prefixes and suffixes are numerous, reflecting Korea’s agglutinative structure.
There are also various other important classes of words and morphemes that are not generally classified among the 9 pumsa.
5 other major classes of words or morphemes are:
- 어미 eomi (verb endings)
- 지시어 jisieo / (demonstratives)
- 접속어 jeopsogeo (conjunctions)
- 접두어 jeopdueo (prefixes)
- 접미어 jeommieo (suffixes)
조사, also called 토씨, are Korean postpositions, and are also known as case markers.
Examples include 는 (topic marker) and 를 (object marker).
Postpositions come after substantives and are used to indicate the role (subject, object, complement, or topic) of a noun in a sentence or clause.
- 〜 : Nonstandard/alternative form of ー (“long vowel mark”)
- ㄴ : a colloquial variant of 은/는 ; a present tense suffix/infix, directly attached to the stem of a verb ending in a vowel or the consonant ㄹ (which drops out) – e.g. 살다 (salda, “to live”) → 나는 강릉에 산다. (Naneun Gangneung-e sanda. “I live in Gangneung.”) — Derived terms: —ᆫ다, —ᆫ데, —ᆫ지, —ᆫ대, —ᆫ다고 [—는— (neun-) is used instead when the stem ends in a consonant other than ㄹ] ; Past tense suffix making a verb a determiner — e.g. 너가 어제 빌린 사전 “The dictionary which you have borrowed yesterday”, 그것이 그녀가 남편을 죽인 이야기이다 “That is the story, in which she kills her husband.” ; a present tense suffix making an adjective a determiner, appended to the sequential form (if the stem ends in the consonant ㄹ (l), it drops out) — e.g. 새벽 하늘이 아름답다. (아름다우니) “The sky at daybreak is beautiful.” → 아름다운 새벽 하늘 (“the beautiful sky at daybreak”), 트럭에 목재를 싣다 (실으니) “to load a truck with wood” → 목재를 실은 트럭 “a truck which s.b. had loaded with wood”, 비바람이 모질다 (모지니/모질면) “The storm is harsh.” → 모진 비바람 “the harsh storm” ; also ㄴ is a contraction of 너라. [See also: 는, present tense marker for a verb; 던, retrospect past tense marker, ㄹ, future tense marker]
- 나 : just, at least — 하던 거나 하련다 “Gonna do just what I’ve been doing” ; or — 진주나 창원 쪽으로 가려면 몇 번 국도를 타야 하나요? “What route should I take to get to Jinju or Changwon?”; no less than — 8km나 걸었는데도 거의 지치지 않은 기색이다 “He has walked 5 miles already, but still seems nearly untired”; no matter which/who — 누구나 한번쯤은 넘어질 수 있어 “It’s fine. Everyone falls over once or twice.”; s.b. said … (I’m suspicious or not interested, though) — 자기는 몰랐다나, 뭐 그러데 “Well, maybe he said he didn’t know? Something like that.” [나 is used after a vowel, whereas 이나 is used after a consonant.] [Cognate with Old Japanese 己 な “I”, first-person singular plain (non-polite) pronoun.]
- 는 : (semantic:) marks the topic of the sentence. (not to be confused with the subject of the sentence); (semantic:) depending on context, shows contrast with or adds emphasis to the preceding word or phrase in a sentence. [는 (neun) is used always after a word (a noun, a noun phrase, or a nominalized verb in 기 form) ending in a vowel. Identical in meaning to 은 (eun) which occurs after a word ending in a consonant.] (topic marker:) The topic is what is being talked about in the sentence; it is the main point. This, however, is different in meaning from the subject which the predicate directly refers to. The topic and subject may be the same in a sentence. 매리는 나의 친구다 “Mary is my friend.” In this case “Mary” is the topic (and the subject) of this sentence and “is my friend” is the predicate. However, in many cases, the subject and topic are different. (Complete form:) 이 반에 있는 학생들은 똑똑하다 “The students that are in this class are smart.” Note the use of the first 은/는: function of 은/는 after verbs does not indicate nominative case but the adjectival form of the verb. (Shortened form:) 이 반은 학생들이 똑똑하다 “The students in this class are smart.” Compare the complete and shortened form. Here, the topic/subject distinction is a pseudo-grammatical distinction. All sentences that use both 은/는 and 이/가 can derive its expletive form as shown above.
In the shortened form, the topic is “This class” while the subject is “the students”. In cases like this, the topic can often be thought of as a range, or to what extent the sentence is applicable. In the example above, if “speaking of this class” was removed, the sentence would not be limited to “this class”, and would talk about all students in general. Grammatically, this phenomenon is explained by the concept of predicate clause; that is, the sentence “학생들이 똑똑하다” (The students are smart) wholly works as an adjective (This class is ‘student-smart.”, so to speak). (Contrast/emphasis marker:) 는 can be placed after most case markers (including 가, 를, 에, 에게, 에서, 로, 과) to show contrast between two or more choices or add emphasis to a word or phrase, depending on the context. If used after 가 or 를, the 가 or 를 are deleted leaving only 은 (eun). 서울은 한국의 수도다 “Seoul is the capital city of South Korea.” If 은 is stressed, it might suggest “other cities are not.” 여름에는 덥다 “It is hot during the summer.” If 는 is stressed, it might suggest “during other seasons, it’s not.” 그는 나에게 책을 주었다 “He gave me the book.” (“He gave the book to me.”) If 는 is stressed, it might suggest “other people may have not.” Variants: 그가 나에게는 책을 주었다 “I’m sure that he gave the book to me, but I’m not certain if he gave it to others as well.” 그가 나에게 책은 주었다 “I’m sure that he gave me the book, but I’m not certain if he gave me other things, too.” 그가 나에게 책을 주기는 했다/주기는 주었다 “He gave me the book, but I’m uneasy about the way he did.” (It was too late/seriously damaged/not the one I wanted/just half of it/etc.)
- ㅇ : (familiar) sentence-final particle for cuteness and girlies — 감사합니당. 안녕하세용~!
- 은 : Marks the topic of the sentence. The topic of a sentence is not to be confused with the subject of the sentence. 그것은 큰 책이야. — 맞아, 맞아, 피트. “It is a big book. — Yes. Yes it is, Pete.” 네, 어제 일은 얘기하지 않기로 하지요. “Well, let’s not talk about yesterday.” 은, depending on context, shows contrast with or adds emphasis to the preceding word or phrase in a sentence. Usage notes: 은 (eun) is always used after a word (a noun, a noun phrase, or a nominalized verb/adjective in ㅁ form), ending in a consonant. Identical in meaning to 는 (neun) which occurs only after a word ending in a vowel. (topic marker:) The topic is what is being talked about in the sentence, it is the main point. This however is different in meaning from the subject which the predicate directly refers to. The topic and subject may be the same in a sentence. For example: 매리는 내 친구다 “Mary is my friend.”: In this case “Mary” is the topic (and the subject) of this sentence and “is my friend” is the predicate. However, in many cases, the subject and topic are different. 이 반은 학생이 똑똑하다. “Speaking of this class, the students are smart.” Above, the topic is “This class” while the subject is “the students”. In cases like this, the topic can often be thought of as a range, or to what extent the sentence is applicable. In the example above, if “speaking of this class” was removed, the sentence would not be limited to “this class”, and would talk about all students in general. (Contrast/emphasis marker:) 은 can be placed after most case markers (including 가, 를, 에, 에게, 에서, 로, 과) to show contrast between two or more choices or add emphasis to a word or phrase, depending on the context. If used after 가 or 를, the 가 or 를 are deleted leaving only 은. 나는 서울에 가고 싶다 “I want to go to Seoul.” 나는 서울에는 가고 싶다 “I want to go to Seoul (and not Busan).” or “I want to (especially) go to Seoul.” 나는 존에게 책을 주었다 “I gave John a book.” 나는 존에게는 책을 주었다 “I gave John (and not Fred) a book.” or “I gave (especially) John a book.” In cases where there are two cases of either 는 or 은 in a sentence it is assumed that the first usage refers to the topic while the second usage refers to some contrast or emphasis.
- 의 : “X’s” — Indicates that the previous word has possession of the next one. It functions like the English suffix “’s”, or like the word “of” with the position of possessor and possessee switched. — 한국의 수도는 서울이다 “Korea’s capital is Seoul.”, 나의 책 “my book” [The common pronunciation of this particle is 에 (e). This pronunciation is recognised as standard alongside the orthographic pronunciation ui, which is only used in articulated speech to avoid confusion.] [Translations: の, 的, 之.]
- 이나 : 나 after consonants ; just, at least — 헛소리 말고 잠이나 자라 “Don’t be silly and just go to sleep.”, or — 일반 배송은 이틀이나 사흘 정도 걸립니다 “Regular delivery takes two or three days.”, no less than — 나 살 2kg이나 쪘어 “I gained no less than 2 kilograms!”, no matter which/who — 마음에 드는 것이면 어느 것이나 좋다 “Anything you’d like is suitable.”
- 이라 : Used with 고 to mean indirect quote. (Alternative form, after vowel: 라.) [Abbreviation of 이라서. Adjective: 이라 (naked infinitive of 이다): “because … is”, “since … is”, “to be (something) so…”, “to equal (something) so…” (alternative forms: (after vowel) 라 (ra), 라서 (raseo)]
- 이랑 : (colloquial) and, with [used with nouns ending with a consonant, 랑 is used with nouns ending with a vowel] [syn.: 하고]
- 이며 : Formed from the copula 이다 (“to be”) and the suffix -며, “while being/doing”). — Used to distinguish and connect two or more things. e.g. 행보하는 법이며 체조며 온갖 조련 “Every sort of military training, from the proper gait to gymnastics.” — “And”. [Adj. “While being one thing, also being something else.”] [Related terms: -며, 하며, 되며.]
- 이야 : Semantic marker of emphasis — 이 정도쯤이야 식은 죽 먹기지! “It’ll be a pushover!” [이야 is used after a consonant; 야 is used after a vowel] [(Interjection:) wow, whoa — 이야, 굉장한데? “Wow, awesome!”, 이야, 그거 새 옷이네. ― 면접 때문에 어제 구입했어요. “Look at you! That’s a new dress. ―I just bought it yesterday for the job interview.”]
- 께서 : The honorific form of the particles 이 & 가, denoting the subject of a sentence. — 선생님께서 저에게 사과를 주셨습니다 “The teacher gave an apple to me.” (Used in relation with animate objects for which the speaker wishes to show respect.) [Related terms: 께, 가, 이.]
- 亽 (라) : 구결 (口訣) for “to be” (copula)
- 마다 : each, every ― 날마다 “every day”
- 만 : only, even [Syn. 뿐]
- 만큼 : the degree or extent to which [also is a dependent noun]
- 며 : (enumerates descriptions) — 잎은 달걀 모양이며 끝은 길게 뾰족하고 밑은 둥글며 바늘 모양의 톱니가 있다 “The leaf is egg-shaped, and its end is long and sharp, and its bottom is round, and is saw-toothed.”; as, while, at the same time (that) — 그녀는 숨을 가쁘게 쉬며 강변 산책로를 따라 뛰었다 “She ran along the riverside walk while breathing heavily.” [Suffix 며 takes the sequential forms, and if the stem ends in ㄹ (l), it does not drop out.] [syn’s: -고, -면서 (“as, while”)]
- 밖에 : (with negatives:) other than… — 우리는 당신밖에 모른다 “We Will Follow You Only” (lit. “We Know No One but You”) [NK propaganda hymn/slogan.]
- 보다 : than, rather than
- 뿐 : only, nothing more than, just (takes the future determinative form of a verb or adjective) (followed by 이다)
- 서 : (denoting movement:) from, (locative, denoting a place where something happens:) in, at, on [서 is the simple form of 에서, used for phonetic reasons.]
- 씨 : 氏, “sir”, “madam”, “Mr”, — 안녕하십니까, 찬호씨? “How are you, Mr. Chanho?” [Noun: seed, semen, lineage; surname, breed, offspring, gene.]
- 자 : let’s…
- 丷 [하/호] : 為/爲 (wi) reduced to 소댝 top partㄴ; to do (suffix to make verbs), to be (suffix to make adjectives) [The 호 reading was only used in Middle Korean — a kwukyel (구결, fr. Middle Chinese 口訣 (kʰúw-kwet, “mnemonic rhyme”), from 口 (“mouth”) + 訣 (“rhymed saying”) — a system formerly used in Korea whereby correct interpretation of texts written in Classical Chinese was aided by small interspersed notes such as this one)
- 하고 : and, with (also used to introduce reported speech)
- 한테 : to, at, for — 친구한테 생일 선물을 보냈어요 “I sent a birthday present to my friend”, by, from [This particle is applied to nouns for animate referents only, and is more frequently used in spoken language than in texts.] [syn. 에게]
- 형 : 兄, elder brother of a male (by extension, spoken by a male) unrelated elder male [honorific: 형님]; 型, type, model, form — e.g. 이상형 “ideal type”, 선다형 “multiple-choice method”, 서구형 “Western-style”, 유선형 “streamlined shape, streamlined form”, 자유형 “freestyle”, 표준형 “a standard type”