Korean particles play a vital role in the Korean language. There are many particles in the Korean language. Particle(조사) is used after a word or clause to represent a certain relationship with another word in the sentence, or add a certain meaning to a word in the sentence. Korean Particles include case particles, complementary particles and connective particles.
Korean particles are also known as post position because it is used after the noun. Particles cannot be used alone. Thus, they should always be attached to the end of a word. Also, the form of particles does not change wherever they are. Particles can be sometimes placed at the end of a connective ending of an adverb or predicate, and multiple particles can be used in conjunction with each other in a single sentence. Korean particles are attached after the noun. We can also say Korean particles are suffixes or short words that immediately follow the noun or pronoun.
저는 학교에 가요. I go to school.
나는 학교에 있다. I’m at school.
저도 스키 할수 있어요. I also can play ski. (스키 is a konglish word which means ski)
나도 아이스크림 촣아. I also like ice cream.
Korean particles list
(으)로써 by means
(이)라도 even, at least
(이)란 a thing called…
(이)야 if it’s/if it were
게 for/towards/to (abbreviation)
까지 to, until, including (even)
께 for/towards/to (honorific)
께서 honorific of 이/가
대로 in accordance with
도 also, even
들 plural particle
라고 quoted speech particle (noun)
만큼 as …as
밖에 nothing but
보다 more than, as … as
뿐 only, just
서 1. from/at/in (in speech) 2. all by/just (혼자, 둘이)
아(어/여)요 informal polite speech style
아/야 the vocative particle
에 to/in/at/per/in addition to
에게 for/towards/to (formal/writing)
에다(가) in/on/addition to
은/는 as for
을/를 object particle
의 the possessive particle
이/가 subject particle
한테 for/towards/to (colloquial/spoken)
How to use Korean particles?
korean Particle(조사) is used after a word or clause to represent a certain relationship with another word in the sentence, or add a certain meaning to a word in the sentence. Sometimes korean particles can be omitted during speech but it can not be omitted in a written form.
Topic and subject marking particles in Korean
korean subject particles
Subject particles(주격 조사), which include- 이/가, -서, 에서, 께서 make the preceding word ‘the subject of the sentence’.
Subject particle – 이 and -가 have completely same functions, and are thus phonological allomorph.“- 이’ is used if the preceding word ends in a consonant, and ‘- 가 is used if the previous word ends in a vowel. Without a subject marker, the sentence becomes a little straight.
이 and 가 have the following usage:
First, they can describe an observable action or circumstance in a neutral manner.
눈이 온다. It is snowing.
정국이 학교에 갔다. Jongook/ Jung-kook went to school.
우리는 오렌지 가 먹었다. We had orange.
If the above sentences are negated, the subject of the negated sentence
바람은 불지 않는다. It is not windy.
만서가 학교에 가지 않았다.Minseo did not go to school.
Second, they can emphasize or point out certain things, animals or people in order to differentiate them from others.
서울에는 준서가 갔다. It is Jun-Seo who went to Seoul.
나는 민서가 보고 싶다. I miss Min-Seo [not anyone else).
If an interrogative pronoun is the subject of a sentence, “- 이/가 must be attached thereto as a subject particle.
누가 이것을 했습니까? / Who did this?
무엇이 이 세상에서 가장 아름답습니까? What is the most beautiful thing in the world?
준서가 의사가 되었다. Jun-Seo became a doctor.
존은 영국인이 아니다. John is not British.
Subject particle -께서 is for a respectable subject, such as teacher, grandfather, head of company or pastor. In such a sentence, the verb
should be in honorific forms (eg 드시다 to eat, 계시다 to be, 돌아가시다 to die) or combined with the prefinal ending -시.
저의 아버지께서 워싱턴에 가셨습니다. My father went to Washington.
목사님께서 저를 위해 기도해 주셨습니다. The pastor prayed for me.
Subject particle -에서 has a very special function. It is originally an adverbial particle which is equivalent to ‘to’ or ‘at’, but it can function as a subject particle, if attached after a certain organization, such as the National Assembly, government, school, company, gatherings, etc.
국회에서 호주제에 관한 법을 폐지하였다.
The National Assembly abolished the patriarchal family system.
회사에서 연말에 상여금을 많이 주었다.
The company gave a generous bonus at the end of the year.
참여연대에서 국가보안법을 없애는 운동을 하고 있다.
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy is trying to abolish the National security act.
Subject particle 서, which means .- 이/가 함께 ‘together with’ is always used in the form of ‘native numeral + -이 + 서’.
준서와 민서는 둘이서 손을 잡고 걸어갔다.
Jun-Seo and Min-Seo walked hand in hand.
유비, 관우, 장비 이렇게 셋이서 중국을 통일했다.
Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zang Fei, the three of them united China.
korean Object marker
Object particles(목적격 조사) can be divided into direct object particles such as -을/를/ㄹ and indirect object particles such as 에게. They
serve to make the preceding word the object of the sentence.
Direct object particles -을/를/ㄹ are phonological allomorph: in other words, they have a completely identical semantic function, just in different forms. Use 을 if the preceding word ends in a consonant if it ends in a vowel use 를, and ‘-ㄹ’ for condensed expressions that end in a vowel.
Transitive verbs must be used after the object particle.
을/를 is used to distinguish or emphasize a certain thing or situation.
It is possible to use intransitive verbs mostly emotional ones such as 가다 to go, 오다 to come, 다니다 to go somewhere
frequently 걷다 to walk, 건너다 to cross, 들르다 to stop by, 떠나다 to leave, 출발하다 to depart, 지나다 to pass.
준서가 책을 읽는다. Jun-Seo is reading a book.
민서가 모자를 쓰고 있다. Min-Seo is wearing a hat.
왜 그가 약속 장소에 나오질 않았을까? Why did he fail to turn up?
어딜 그렇게 정신없이 가는 중이니? Where are you going in such a hurry?
그렇게 아픈데 병원에를 안 가겠다니 무슨 말이야? Are you insane to say that you are not going to see the doctor even though you are so sick?
민서가 준서를 뺨을 세 대를 때렸다.
→ 민서가 준서의 뺨을 세 대를 때렸다.
Min-Seo slapped Jun-Seo in the face three times.
바지를 통을 좀 줄여야겠다.
→ 이 바지의 통을 좀 줄여야겠다.
I have to make this pair of trousers more narrow-legged.
에게 / 에
에게 and 에 make a certain sentence component
an adverb not object which is decidedly different from English. 에게 is attached to the end of animate nouns and 에 to in-animate nouns. They are essential adverbs in Korean.
준서는 민서에게 선물을 사 주었다. Jun-Seo bought Min-Seo a gift.
나는 오늘 뉴욕에 사는 친구에게 전화를 했다. I called my friend in New York today.
민서는 꽃에 물을 주었다. Min-Seo watered the flowers.
한국은 도움이 필요한 나라에 무상 원조를 많이 하고 있다. Korea is giving lots of financial aid to the countries in need.
When 의 combined with 나, 저, 너, 누구 it will be condensed into 나 의 = 내, 저의 = 제, 저의 제, 너의 = 네, 누구의 = 뉘. These particles are used mostly while speaking.
내 고향은 여수다.My hometown is yeosu.
그 분이 제 사장님 입니다. That person is my boss.
이것은 네 책이다. This is your book.
뉘 그림은 가장 좋아해요? Who’s drawing you liked most?
의 means owned by someone’. For example, Jun-Seo, which precedes -의 is the owner of the book, and the following “책’ is the object owned by him. It is the same as ‘apostrophe plus s[-‘s]’ in English.
이것은 준서의 책 입니다. This is Jun-Seo’s book.
의 also means ‘belonging to something’.
준서는 한글학회의 회원이다. Jun-Seo is a member of the Korean Language Society.
It also means ‘written by someone’.
그것은 민서의 시연 책 입니다. This storybook is written by Min-seo.
It also means than something/someone.
그녀의 집은 우리집의 세 배는 된다.
Her house is three times bigger than our house.
It also means ‘for something/someone’.
합격의 길은 멀고 험하다. The path of passing the exam is long and winding.
의 also means ‘produced in a certain place’.
제주의 귤 맛이 가장 좋다. Mandarines produced in Jeju are the best.
It means ‘becoming something/someone’. For example, in the
sentence below, ’71’ preceding is the detail and on the subject
문제의 인물이 드디어 나타났다. / The person at issue finally turned up.
Since 의 has a wide range of semantic functions, it is sometimes difficult to capture the meaning of a sentence just by looking at the
누나의 사진 elder sister’s photograph.
It means ‘photographs held by an elder sister, photographs taken by an elder sister, photographs of an elder sister, etc. Readers must observe the context in order to have an accurate understanding of the phrase.
에게 / 한테
Use adverbial particle- 에게, 한테 – when the subject gives something to an animate noun (e.g. person or animal). As mentioned earlier, -에게 is for indirect objects in English.
에게서/ 한테서/ (으)로부터
When the subject receives something from an animate noun 에게서/ 한테서/ (으)로부터 is used. These verbs need to know to understand 에게 / 한테, 에게서/ 한테서/ (으)로부터 particles.
주다 ‘to give’
드리다 ‘to give something to a respectable person’
받다 ‘to receive’
전하다 to tell’
얻다 ‘to obtain
말하다 ‘to speak’
듣다 to hear’
던지다 to throw’
전수하다 ‘to pass down’ can be used.
시키다 to have someone do something.
As for -에게서, 한테서, it is easy to understand who is the giver and the receiver through the context. Therefore, even if ‘- 서’ is deleted from ‘-에게,한테’, there would be no problem understanding the sentences. Koreans usually prefer using -에게,한테 in conversations, -(으)로부터’ is hardly ever used in spoken language, but mostly in written language.
준서는 민서에게 한테 선물을 주었다.
Jun-Seo gave Min-Seo a present.
민서는 준서에게서 / 한테서 로부터 선물을 받았다.
Min-Seo received a present from Jun-Seo.
If the target of giving or receiving something is a respectable person such as grandfather, teacher or boss, attach 께 to the respectable person when the subject is giving something to the other person, and attach-께, 께로부터 to the respectable person when the subject is receiving something from other people.
그는 할아버지께 선물을 드렸다.
He gave his grandfather a present/ gift.
그는 할아버지께 께로부터 선물을 받았다.
He received a present from his grandfather.
When it comes to in-animate nouns like objects, places and if the subject is giving something to the in-animate noun use -에, -에다가.
When it comes to in-animate nouns like objects, places and if the subject is receiving something from the in-animate noun use 에서, (으)로부터.
준서는 나무(에/ 에다가) 물을 주었다. Jun-Seo gave water to the tree.
그 회사는 IT산업(에/에다가) 1조 원을 투자했다. The company invested 1 trillion won in the IT sector.
그는 성경 (에서/으로부터) 지혜를 얻었다. He learned wisdom from the Bible.
게으른 자여, 꿀벌 (에게서/ 로부터) 지혜를 얻으라. The lazy, learn wisdom from bees.
(으)로, (으)로서’ are adverbial particles that represent social status(지위), ranking(신분) and eligibility(자격). They are mainly referred to as people and animals, or even trees and flowers from time to time.
‘(으)로’ and ‘(으)로서’ have slightly different usage. (으)로서’ is attached to the back of a noun which functions as a
predicate for the subject. In other words, ‘그는 선생으로서’ is equal to 그는 선생이다’ and ‘준서는 아들로서’ is equal to ‘준서는 아들이다.
그는 선생으로서 열심히 학생들을 가르치고 있다. He, as a teacher, is keen on teaching students.
준서는 아들로서 부모님께 효도를 다했다. Jun-Seo, as a son, did his best to be a good son to his parents.
(으)로 is attached to the back of a noun which functions as a predicate of the object for the sentence. In other words, ‘준서는 남편으로’ is equal to ‘준서가 남편이다’ and ‘민서를 수양딸로’ is equal to ‘민서가 수양딸이다.
민서는 준서를 남편으로 맞이했다. Min-Seo accepted Jun-Seo as her husband.
그는 민서를 수양딸로 받아들였다. He accepted Min-Seo as his foster daughter.
에 is used to describe approaches to in-animate nouns (e.g. objects,
places) and 에서 to describe distancing from in-animate nouns.
존은 미국에서 왔다. John came from America.
준서는 자리에서 일어났다. / Jun-Seo stood up from his seat.
존이 미국에 왔다. / John came to America.
민서는 자리에 앉았다. / Min-Seo sat on her seat.
에 also used to indicate certain time(시간), order(순서) and era.
민서는 진서를 아침 9시에 만났다. Min-Seo met Jin-Seo at 9 o’clock in the morning.
⁷한글은 조선시대에 만들어졌다. Hangul was made in the Chosun dynasty.
준서가 처음에 미국으로 유학을 갔고, 그 다음에 민서가 미국으로 유학을 갔다. First, Jun-Seo went to America to study, and then Min-Seo followed.
어떤 일이든 처음에는 어렵지만, 나중에는 쉬워지는 법이다. The beginning is the hardest part.
Use -에 to denote the location or spot where people, animals or objects exist.
에 is used in combination with existential verbs such as 있다 to exist, 계시다 to exist (honorific), 놓여 있다 to be placed somewhere, 살아 있다 to remain alive, 없다 not to exist, 살다 to live, 숨다 to hide, 남다 to remain.
민서는 지금 서울에 있다. Min-Seo is now in Seoul
탁자 위에 접시 있다.There are plates on the table.
에서 is also used to denote a place where a certain action is taking place. 에서 is used in combination with motional verbs such as 먹다 to eat’, 놀다 ‘to play’, 공부하다 ‘to study’, 살다 to live’, 받다 to receive’, 주다 ‘to give’, 부르다 ‘to call’.
존은 어제 한국 식당에서 저녁을 먹었다. John had dinner at a Korean restaurant yesterday.
노래방에서 노래를 불러 본 적이 있어요? Have you ever sung in a karaoke?
에서 is also used to show the starting point of an action or status. It is used in combination with 출발하다 to depart, 시작하다 to start, 가다 to go.
에 is used to show the point of arrival. It is used in combination with 도착하다 to arrive, 도달하다 to reach, 다다르다 to come/reach, 이르다 to arrive, 미치다 to arrive.
경부고속도로는 서울에서/ 에서부터 시작된다. Gyeongbu Highway starts from Seoul.
뉴욕에서 에서부터 기다리던 소식이 왔다. We have some long-awaited news from New York.
그는 드디어 에베레스트 산 정상에 도착했다.
He finally arrived at the peak of Mount Everest.
서울에 오는 데 얼마나 시간이 걸렸습니까?
How long did it take you to come to Seoul?
When it comes to time and space, ‘-에서, 부터, 에서부터’ refer to the starting point of a certain space or starting time, and -까지 refers to
the finishing point of a certain space or finishing time.
여기서부터 한국 땅입니다. From here, you are on the Korean soil.
한국어 수업은 9시부터 시작됩니다. The Korean class starts at 9.
여덟 시까지 학교에 도착해야 합니다. I have to get to school by 8.
뉴욕까지 시간이 얼마나 걸리죠? How long does it take to get to New York?
에서, -부터, ~에서부터 … -까지’ used when talking about the extent of a certain period or space. -까지’ refers to the ending, finishing point or a point when changes come to an end.
어제 9시에서/ 부터/ 에서부터) 12시까지 축구 경기가 있었다. There was a football match yesterday from 9 to 12.
하숙집에서/부터/ 에서부터 학교까지 시간이 얼마나 걸립니까? How long does it take to get to school from the boarding house?
부터 is used only if the time is not detailed enough, as in the case of 조금 전 ‘a while ago’, 며칠 전 ‘ a few days ago’, 조금 뒤 ‘shortly’,
언제 ‘someday, 오늘 today’, 어제 ‘yesterday’, 내일 ‘tomorrow’.
지난 2002년 6월’에서/부터 9월까지 월드컵이 한국에서 열렸다. The World Cup was held in Korea from June to September 2002.
며칠 전 에서/ 부터 지금까지 연락이 없습니다. We have not heard from him/her since a few days ago.
(ㅇ)로 means ‘with something as the destination and/or towards something’, represents the direction (방향) and orientation(지향점) action or status. It is usually used in combination with directional verbs such as 가다to go, 오다 to come, 떠나다 to leave, 출발하다 to depart, 향하다“to head towards”, 이사 하다 ‘to move to a new location’, 옮기다 to move something, 돌아가다 ‘to return, 돌아서다 to turn around and 이끌다 ‘to lead/guide’.
민서는 작년에 서울로 이사했다. Min-Seo moved to Seoul last year.
요즘 경기가 상승 쪽으로 돌아섰다. The economy started to pick up recently.
(으)로’ is used to show ‘by using something and/or with something’ like ingredients, apparatuses, tools, methods, etc.
준서는 포도로 포도주를 만들었다. / Jun-Seo made wine with grapes.
하늘이 먹구름으로 온통 뒤덮여 있다. The sky is covered with dark clouds.
그는 주식 투자로 돈을 많이 벌었다. He earned a lot of money by investing in stocks.
(으)로 is used to show the reason or cause behind a certain status or action. They are attached to a word representing the reason or cause, to imply because of something’, or ‘with something as the cause’.
인도네시아에서는 쓰나미로 많은 사람이 죽었다. Many died from tsunami in Indonesia.
선생님의 도움으로 입학시험에 합격했습니다. With the help of the teacher, I passed the entrance exam.
(으)로 indicates the change 변화 of an object or change of a perception of a certain person or object. It is attached to the changed target to imply ‘to become something’.
증오가 순식간에 애정으로 바뀌었다. All of a sudden, hatred turned into affection.
물이 수증기로 변해 날아가 버렸다. Water evaporated into steam.
그는 결국 사기꾼으로 드러났다. In the end, he turned out to be a fraudster.
보다 expresses the difference between two things (comparison 비교) in a sentence, while 와, 과, 만큼 represent the sameness of two things in a sentence.
준서는 민서보다 키가 크다. Jun-Seo is taller than Min-Seo.
준서는 민서와 키가 같다. Jun-Seo is as tall as Min-Seo.
슈퍼 감자는 수박만큼 크기가 크다. Super potatoes are as big as watermelons.
처럼, 같이 can liken a certain object to something similar.
그녀는 천사 (처럼/ 같이) 아름답다. She is as beautiful as an angel.
준서는 사실을 알고 있는 것(처럼/ 같이) 이야기했다. Jun-Seo was talking as if he knew the truth.
그가 그림(처럼/ 같이 )멋있는 슛을 날렸다.
He made a shot which was as fantastic as a picture.
아,야 serve to make the preceding word the ‘summon’ or ‘address of the sentence. 아 should come at the end of a consonant and 야 at the end of a vowel.
종국아, 잘 있었니? Jongook, how have you been?
준서야, 이리 와. Jun-Seo, come this way.
Summons or addresses are used to summon friends or younger people, not someone older or higher in status. Instead, those older or higher in
status should be addressed by their titles, such as teacher, manager, CEO or mayor.
Korean particles quiz
Do we always have to use particles in Korean?
Korean particles are often omitted in everyday speech, but not every particle can be omitted, there is certain particle which can be omitted
in certain situation.
Case particles can be omitted, while auxiliary particles, which add a certain meaning to the preceding word, cannot be omitted. Also, among case particles, only subject particle, object particle, adnominal particle and some adverbial particles can be omitted.
First, particles can be omitted if they are recoverable with the help of the context. In general, they are highly likely to be recovered if the sentence order is consistent with the general Korean word order.
Adnominal particle, which is affixed to a noun, make the noun modify
the following noun. Therefore, the adnominal particle 의 in 누구의 책 (whose book) can be easily omitted, as: 1) it is clear that 누구 is
modifying 책 with the help of particle “의”; 2) the particle is easily recoverable with the help of the context; and 3) the sentence has a conventional word order.
A: 그것은 누구의 책이니? → 그것Ø누구Ø 책이니?
Whose book is it?
B: 준서의 책이에요. → 준서Ø책이에요. It is Jun-Seo’s.
배가 잘 가네. 배Ø잘 가네. The ship is smooth sailing.
A: 준서가 민서를 사랑하니? 준서가 민서Ø사랑하니?
Does Jun-Seo love Min-Seo?
Korean counting particles
Here is a list of korean counting particles. If you want to know more about korean numbers and counter click here.
- 월 month – 삼 개월 3 months
- 달 month – 세달 3 month
- Books – 권 (gwon) 세 권, 네 권
- Bottles – 병 (byung) 다섯 병, 여섯 병
- Age – 살 (sal) 일곱 살, 여덟 살
- 켤레 (kyullae)Shoes & socks – 일곱 켤레, 여덟 켤레
- 가지(kaji) kinds, varieties, sorts – 몇 가지 Few types/ kinds
- 갑 (kap) pack (cigarettes), box
- 개 Ge (General physical items/ anything)
- 건 (geon) agenda items, assembly bills
- 곡 (gok) songs, music pieces
- 과 (gwa) lessons, chapters
- 군데 (gunde) places, institutions
- 권 (gwon) 책 (Chhek) – books
- 그루 (guru) 나무 (tress), rice plants, shrubs
- 그릇/공기/접시 food (vessel, bowl, dish)
- 끼/끼니 meal
- 년 (Nyeon) years
- 다발 (Dabal) bunch of flowers
- 단 (dan) bunches/ bundles (radishes, scallions, wood, fruit)
- 대 (De) 자동차 (cars), injections, vehicles, cars, aeroplanes and other machinery
- 대, 개비 tiny slender objects like cigarettes, matches etc
- 도 (do) degrees (temperature)
- 마디 (Madi) phrases, joints, and musical measures
- 마리 (mari) 세 마리, 네 마리 animals
- 매 (Me) sheets of paper (formal/written form)
- 명 (myeong) People in general (informal) 한 명, 두 명
- 모 (Mo) tofu, i.e. block, square, piece, cake
- 모금 (Mogum) a sip, a puff (water, cigarette)
- 문 (Mun) artillery piece
- 벌 (Beol) items of clothing, sets (chopsticks, dishes, documents, clothes, furniture, tools, cards)
- 병(pyeong) bottles of liquid 소주, 맥주
- 봉지 (bongji) paper bags
- 부 (Bu) newspaper, printed copies of thesis or report, volume (of a book and magazine)
- 분 (boon) (Respect/ formal word for people) 한분 one person, 두분 Two person, minute 일분 One minute,이분 Two minute 분 servings of food
- 불, 전 dollars, cents
- 사람 people (informal)
- 상자 (sangja) box, chest
- 손 (swon) two fish (like mackerels)
- 송이 (Songi) 꽃, 바나나, 포도 (bunch) picked flowers, bunches of grapes, bunches of bananas
- 숟갈, 젓갈 a bite, a spoonful (of rice)
- 시 (si) hour (o’clock)
- 시간 (sigan) hour (duration)
- 쌍 (sang) a couple, a pair (animate things)
- 알 (Aal) eggs, pills, potatoes, candy
- 자루 (Jaru) things with long handles like shovels, swords, rifles, knives and pistol.
- 잔 (Jan) 커피, 차 (drinks) 다섯 잔, 여섯 잔 6 cups/ glass
- 장 (Jang) paper, sheets, leaf (flat objects such stamps, paper, tickets, etc.)
- 점 (Jeom) pieces of art
- 접 (Jeop) one hundred dried persimmons
- 접시 (Jeopsi) main dish
- 줄(chul) ten eggs
- 짝 (chaak) one of a pair (a single shoe, a lonely chopstick)
- 쪽 (chuk) small slice (apple, garlic)
- 채 (chhe) house/buildings
- 척 (chheok) boats and ships
- 첩 (chheop) pack of herbal medicine
- 초 (chho) second
- 층 (chhung) floors (layers)
- 컬레 (khalle) pair (gloves, socks, shoes)구두, 신발 (a pair of shoes)
- 코 (kho) twenty octopuses
- 타스 (Thasu) dozens of pencils
- 통 (Thong) letters, telegrams, e-mail, rolls of film, buckets of water, watermelons
- 판 (Phan) 양피자 (a whole pizza), thirty eggs/ 달걀 30개
- 편 (phyan)movies, poems, musicals
- 포기 (phogi) Chinese cabbages, 포기김치
- 푼 (phun) pennies, percentage, percent
- 필 (phil) one animal (head of cow, horse, etc), a roll of cloth
- 해 (he) years – 올해 this year
- 회 (hwe) exercise, writings, repetitions, innings, rounds – (야구) inning.