Object Particle 을 and 를

Finally i came across this interesting Korean part of speech which is the object particle.  This adds to my stock which are the subject marker 이 ~ 가 and the topic marker 은 ~ 는.  Now speaking of object, verb usually has an object and this is what marks that noun.  Looking at the pattern of particles, 을 is obviously added after a consonant ending word while 를 goes after the vowel ending one. 

One of the differences in English and Hangul is the use of such particles which marks the word function in a sentence.  As taught since elementary English, the word order is important in English communication since this will actually drive what you mean.  The nearer the object to the word that modifies it, the better.  Learning Hangul takes paradigm shift on this rule. The order of the word is not that critical as explained in Elementary Korean book, primarily due to the use of the subject, topic and object marker.

In the statement ‘ Jane sees older sister.’  It could only mean one thing that Jane is the one who sees her older sister.  Translating this in Hangul:

제인이 언니를 봐요 —> 제인이 (Jane as subject) 언니 (older sister as object) 봐요 (verb see with the polite ending).   The meaning would still be the same even if it is re-written as 언니를 제인이 봐요.  Again, the word order is not important as long as the correct particle is used.   Unlike in English, rearranging the sentence to ‘Older sister sees Jane’ will obviously mean the other way around.    This is one key learning I got. 

Surprisingly, subject or object in Korean statement can be dropped BUT both cannot be omitted.  This is quite interesting.  Using the same statement sample above:

제인 언니를 봐요 —> removing the subject marker would still mean Jane sees older sister.  However if the object marker 를 is also dropped, the statement then becomes vague.  It can either be ‘Jane sees older sister’ or ‘Older sister sees Jane’.  I guess this makes Hangul flexible, such markers play an important role in communicating.

There is one similarity though in the treatment of object in a sentence.  In both English and Hangul there can only be one direct object to a verb.   Following are some samples:

  • 책을 씨요  –> writes a book
  • 펜을 주세요 –> gives a pen
  • 고기를 사요  –> buys meat
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