Particle 는~은

I was a little confused on the function of these particles compared to the 이~가.  I thought 는 ~ 은 are object marker but it turns out to be a topic marker as well (not limited to such function as compared to 이~가 which highlights a noun).  It really takes serious reading to understand each lesson in Elementary Korean.  Its not about reading fast.  The mind needs to absorb.

So what difference does particles 는 ~은 have against the first subject particle I wrote about weeks ago?  Without looking at my book I remember 3:

  1. It is used to mark subject that is an old information already.  So If ‘I’ is the subject of my first sentence it will be written as 제가 or 내 (나 + 이).  When ‘I’ becomes a subject again of my suceeding sentence it is written as 제는 or 나는.  I remeber when I was wrote to a language exchange partner, I attempted to write sentences in Hangul by just looking at the dictionary and phrase books.  My sentences where simple then something like ‘I want to be good in Hangul’ and ‘I will try my best’.  At that time he told me that 내, 나, 나는 means the same, it all means ‘I’ or ‘me’.  Thinking that it was like synoyms in English. However in my second sentence he said that instead of 내 it would be better to use 나는.  Not dwelling on this much, i thought its probably just the better choice or the less formal one.  But, thanks to my Elementary Korean book, it is now clearer to me how to choose the correct form for every noun or pronoun that is subject in a sentence.
  2. It is a topic marker.  I am a little confused on this.  The book says any word in the sentence can be made topic by putting this particle after the word except for the verb which usually comes at the end of the sentence.   It is said that less important words or information in a Korean sentence is placed first in the sentence and in most cases these are the information that can be dropped.  How does it differ then from rule number 1?
  3. It is used to mark direct contrast of topic in a sentence.  I need to practice this more.  Like in the statements ‘I am an employee my sister though is still a student. ‘   So this can be said ‘나는 희산원이에요. 여동생은 학생이에요.”

I am looking forward for the 를 ~ 을 explanation.


Reviewing Nouns and Pronouns

I started answering exercises of lesson 5…it’s getting difficult but challenging at the same time.   In this type of self study repetition surely will reinforce learning.  So i am probably going to read this lesson over and over. This lesson is understanding nouns and the subject and topic marker in a Korean sentence.  Also the copula -이에요 (i-e-yo) or just -에요(e-yo) is introduced, a special noun ending which is similar to saying that is.  The negative copula is also discussed which is 아니에요.

One has to expand his vocabulary indeed and has to be mindful on how to address second person or third person.  The book suggest minimal use of the word you as Korean do not use this word often.  너 and 당신 corresponds to you the first one is for intimate conversation (someone you know well and within your age) while the other one is used between couples.  To refer someone as ‘you’, it is always best to use the full name or surnmae + 씨 (sshi).  So in the case of my friends name 백진명 (Baek JinMyung), it will be 백진명씨 or 진명씨.  Better yet to use the person’s title + 님(nim) an honorrific marker. For example 선생 (son-saeng) is title used for teachers it is polite already to address them this way but it would be honorrific to add 님 as such it will be 선생님 (son-saeng-nim).  선생님 is also used to address Mr.

I on the other hand has many forms in 한글. These are ways to say I (also could mean my or mine depending on the sentence):

  • 나,내, 나는 – this is the less formal one but still polite, 내 is the form when I is subject and is mentioned for the first time, 나는 is the form when I is topic or if subject but is presented as an old information.
  • 저 – is the humble form for I.  제가 is the form when it placed before special particle 이 or 가.
  •  제, 제가 – actually means my or mine depending on the sentence. 

There will be cases when sentence calls for the use of pronoun ‘we’ or ‘our’, in 한글 its 우리 (oo-ri).

Particles 이~가

In all the English-Korean dictionaries I read, I always notice that words are not in the ‘base form’.  I am still figuring out why the original form of the word is not used in a conversation instead its the base form.  Maybe I am too ‘English centric’ with root word concept in mind. 

Another surprising learning that I got is the use of particles in sentence construction.  Maybe another ‘English-centric’ thinking is that verbs change their form to indicate when the action happened… same goes with noun to indicate if plural or singular.   In all the 한글 writings I have seen, by observation on patterns I am inclined to think that 이 is one of the most abused or overly used character.  It turns out that this character block plays an important role in their writing.  The particles 이and 가 indicates if a word is a subject of the sentence.  In most cases nouns are subjects of sentences as such nouns in most cases will be encountered with any of these particles added.  If the subject ends with vowel it is followed by the particle 가 and if consonant its 이.

This is an example:

그 사람 한극사람이에요 (That person is Korean)

그 잡지영어에요 (That is newspaper is in English)

But there is a rule on the use of this particle.  If the same subject is used as subject again in the suceeding sentence, another particle will be used which is 은 or 는. The trivia is, this is actually a topic marker and not a subject marker.