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Let’s Read in Korean, Part 4

In the first blog in this series, I taught you how to read the consonants. In the next one, I taught you to read the vowels and the vowel combinations. In the last one I did, I taught you how to read the syllables and words in Korean. Now, I want to teach you how to read a sentence in Korean. Reading sentences takes a big of grammar, but I will take it slowly and ease you into it.

Subject/ Verb Sentences:

If you haven’t studied my grammar, a subject is a noun or a pronoun. A noun is a person, place or thing. A pronoun is the word that takes the place of a noun like “I,” “you,” “he,” “she, “it,” “we,” and “they.” Those are all the subject pronouns in English.

A verb is a state of being verb like “is, are, am, will be, was, and were.” A verb is also an action word, a word that does something. Some examples of actions words are: do, does, read, reads, walk, walks, talk, talks, etc.

Now that you know what subjects and verbs are in English, let’s make some subject verb sentences in Korean.

나는 가다. = na nun kada. = I go. This is the form used on the page. If you use this on people, they will feel like it is a bit stiff. The “나” part means “I, ” “me,” or “my” according to what comes after it. The 는 is a subject marker. That means that 나는 means “I.” 가다 means “go or goes,” but in this case it is “go” because of “I.”

나는 가요 = na nun kayo, or na nun gayo, according to the accent of the speaker. Some people pronounce that “ㄱ” as a “k,” and others pronounce it as a “g.” It is technically a “g.” This also means “I go,” but it is in spoken language, and it is softer sounding than 가다.

Often the pronoun is left out, and if someone goes, they may just say, “가요.” If they want to know if you are going, they will say, “가요?” and their voice will go up at the end as if it is a question like in English.

먹어요 – meog-eoyo, meaning “eat or eats.” This is something that you can say.

먹다 = meok da, meaning “eat or eats” on the page. If you say it, it sounds a bit more harsh than 먹어요. With both 먹다 and 먹어요, you can leave the subject out unless you feel you need to clarify it.

그는 먹어요 = ku nun meog-eoyo, meaning “He eats.”

그녀는 먹어요. = kunyeo nun meog-eoyo, meaning “She eats.”

우리는 먹어요 = ooree nun meog-eoyo, meaning “We eat.”

그들은 목어요 = kudul un meog-eoyo, meaning “They eat.” So far, you have only seen 는 as the subject marker, but here, I have used 은. It isn’t a mistake. If the work before the subject marker ends with a vowel, then use 는. If the word before the subject marker ends in a consonant, then use 은.

Using a Direct Object in Korean: First I will explain what a direct object is in English. It is a noun or a pronoun like the subject is a noun or pronoun. That means it is a person, place, or thing. It receives the action of the verb. For example, if I say, “He hit the table.” The “table” received the action of the verb “hit.” The table is the direct object. If I say, “I eat a hamburger,” “hamburger” receives the action of “eat,” so “hamburger” is the direct object. The direct object pronouns are different from the subject pronouns. The direct object pronouns are “me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.” Now, let’s figure out what to do with that in Korean.

First of all Korean word order is different from English word order. In English word order, we put the subject, the verb, and then the direct object. In Korean word order, they put the subject, the direct object, and then the verb. The verb always comes last in Korean.

Also, just as the subject in Korean has special markers after it telling you that it is the subject, the direct object also has special markers after it telling you that it is the direct object. You have learned that 는 and 은 are subject markers in Korean. There are more, but that is a good place to begin. The direct object markers in Korean are 를 and 을.

Some examples:

나는 책을 읽어요. = nah nun chek ool eelk-eo-yo. = I read a book. You already know that 나는 is “I.” “I” is the subject, so 나는 is the subject. You already know that “읽어요” means “read or reads.” “Read” is the verb, so 읽어요 is the verb. “Book” receives the action of “read,” so it is the direct object. “착” receives the action of 읽어요, so it is the direct object. Also, 책 has a direct object marker after it: “을,” so it confirms that it is the direct object.

그는 음식물을 먹어요 = ku nun umshikmool ul meok-eo-yo. = He eats food. 그 is the subject, 는 is the subject marker. 음식물= food. 음식물 has 을 after it and is in the middle of the sentence, so it is the direct object. 먹어요 is the verb. It is at the end of the sentence.

나는 성경을 읽어요. = nah nun seong-gyeong ool eelk-eo-yo. = I read the Bible. 나는 is the subject. 성경 is the direct object. 을 is the direct object marker. 읽어요 is the verb, and it is the last thing in the sentence.

There are more things it is good to know about Korean grammar, but this gets you started to read. Perhaps I should give you more Korean grammar in another blog.

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