In the previous tutorial, you learned how Korean language makes sentences and why you can put any words in any position. It was pretty magical, wasn’t it? And I briefly mentioned how it’s possible. Today, we are going to dive deeper for the details.
Here is the quick question! How do you make a subject and an object in Korean language? If you don’t remember, you should check the Sentence Structure tutorial again.
Yes, in the Korean language, you have to use some special name tags for words. 는 and 을 were those. These are called markers. But how does it really work?
Markers in Korean Language
These markers are like name tags or employee ID. Let’s say you went to a seminar. And somebody asked you to find teacher Jun. But the problem is you don’t know my face but only my name. What would you do?
Fortunately, everybody has a name tag. So, it isn’t a big problem since you just need the person with the name tag that says Teacher Jun. Now, let’s imagine those people were actually words and the name tags were actually markers. That’s how Korean language works.
저는 한국어를 공부해요
I study Korean
The markers are the special words that mark which word is a subject or an object in a sentence. So, no matter where the words go, you just need to find the markers instead of struggling to figure out each sentence component. Now, you can see why Korean sentence structure can be built more freely.
How To Use Markers in Korean Language
However, 는 and 를 are not the only markers. The Korean language has 4 types of markers and each marker has its own purpose : subject marker, topic marker, direct object marker, indirect object marker.
I just used every marker in the example sentence. But you can see I used the topic marker instead of the subject marker. Both make a subject. So, I used the topic marker instead. (I’ll explain this a bit more later)
Another important thing is that I used the markers after each word. They chase a word like stalkers and tell everybody something like ‘this one is a subject!’ or ‘this one is an object!’. It can never be ahead of what they stalk.
So… Did we learn everything? Wait, I used 은 instead of 는. That wasn’t a typo. Then why did I use that?
Changes of Markers in Korean Language
The markers change based on the letter they follow. It helps you to pronounce Korean sentences faster and easier. Try to pronounce ‘님는 [nim:neun]’ and ‘님은 [nim:eun]’. Nimeun makes more natural pronounciation. The consonant + consonant combination is really not great for pronouncing.
Of course, if you try to pronounce anything faster, you can. But… it’s not a tongue twister time. So… why don’t we let it slide saying ‘yeah… I guess so…’ 😂😂😂
So, if a consonant is detected before a marker, the markers drop their first consonant and use the default consonant : ㅇ [no consonant sound]. For the fancier explanation, I can say that markers drop the first consonant after a batchim.
See? Those batchims in red color make the markers change. By the way, the indirect object markers don’t change.
은/는 vs 이/가 in Korean Language
은/는 and 이/가 make the similar functions in Korean language but, at the same time, are very different. They make different tones and sometimes different grammar.
저는 한국어를 공부해요
I study Korean
= It’s a plain sentence
제가 한국어를 공부해요
I study Korean
= It sounds like ‘no they don’t study Korean, I do’ when somebody asks ‘they study Korean, you don’t right?’
This is way beyond the beginner level. You just need to remember 이/가 also make a subject and 은/는 is more natural to use in many situations. Stick with 은/는.
Maybe you might notice that the markers are not the only ones that are repeated in every sentence. Now you get why you have to use markers again and again, so that’s understandable. But, isn’t it weird that every sentence ends with 요? What’s wrong with that? Why do we have to end all sentences with 요? It sounds like some rappers saying ‘yo’.
So, why don’t you check the next tutorial? to find out if it has a meaning or some special functions like markers? If you think markers are the biggest difference between your language and Korean, then the next tutorial will blow your mind. I’m really proud of you always. So let’s go to the next tutorial so I can say I’m proud of you more. And if you enjoyed this tutorial, please join us in Patreon! I’ll wait for you there.
Before I end this tutorial, I’m going to show some questions that I’ve received many times from Patreon members and students. If you want to get a real professional answer for the Korean language, check my Patreon page and ask questions there.
Q. Markers? or particles? in Korean Language
Sometimes markers are also called ‘particles’ but the terms really don’t matter because the actual real term in Korean is ‘조사 [josa]’ which means ‘helping word’ and technically this 조사 has to be classified as post-position.
Q. Can I use a marker alone?
Markers cannot be used alone. You always have to use it with another word. Markers are not different from prepositions in English except it’s placed after a word, not before a word. For example, you need another word to use ‘at’. Markers are the same.
Q. Should I know 은/는 and 이/가 all?
Of course, you can use only 은/는 now. But if you try to talk to native Koreans, you have to remember they will use 이/가 also. So I recommend you to learn 이/가 make a subject too. You don’t have to use it, but you should know what they do.