Korean Statement: The Review

When I started learning Korean almost 4 years ago, I thought it would be as simple as learning the writing system which is  항글 (Hangul) and studying meaning of words, then I would be ready to communicate in Korean.   So when I memorized those characters and bought a dictionary, I hurriedly looked for a Language Exchange partner only to find out I am far from being a decent speaker.

Since I don’t have time to attend a formal class I opted to buy a text book that will allow me to understand Hangul.  I learned my first big lesson, this language is not like learning English.  The basic structure of a Korean sentence is Subject-Object-Verb or  SOV in short.   No wonder I sounded like a fool putting up those words based on their dictionary meaning just how I would construct my English sentence.  The sentence  structure alone is a big difference.  So when we typically say ‘I love you’,  in Korean, the order would be ‘I you love’.  The order of words in a sentence also signifies their importance.  The first in the order is the least important and that the verb is the most important component of the sentence.  The first words in a sentence are most likely to be dropped.  This is because the subject or even the object  can be implied in a conversation.

Using the sample statement ‘I love you’, this is 나 너를 사랑해요 (na noreul saranghaeyo) in Korean.  Let’s dissect this simple statement.

  • 나 (Na means I)
  • 너를 (noreul means you)
  • 사랑해요 (saranghaeyo mean love)

You might have heard 사랑해요 (saranghaeyo) in dramas and songs which actually means i love you as well. The subject and object in the statement were dropped but the meaning stays the same.  This is why the role of the verb in a sentence is important.

Of course creating a clear statement doesn’t end with knowing the word order.  Although subject and object can be dropped in a sentence this should not be taken as a rule of thumb.  In the Korean language post-position and markers are used to emphasize the role of the word in a sentence.  Again using the example above 나 너 사랑해요, 너 which means you is marked as object in the sentence without it the sentence would be vague since the subject 나 (i) is not marked.

Can you just imagine how it is to create a compound or complex sentence in Korean?  I am not even at that level but I am trying =)

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More Uses of 도 (Do)

I really feel sorry for my self and for those who have been looking forward to new post that I cannot update more frequently.  I have been constantly reading the new handbook I got authored by Samuel Martin called Practical Korean.  It’s another book I just got from Powerbooks  three weeks ago.

Since the creation of Elementary Korean is actually inspired by the the first edition of this book,  the approach in explaining is somehow similar except that Practical Korean is using romanization heavily as opposed to Elementary Korean which uses romanization for pronunciation simulation purposes.

I found this lesson on the use of  of the particle -도.  Previously I learned that this is attached to a word (usually a noun) which gives meaning  ‘too’ or ‘also’.  Like when you say 나도  (nado), it means me too or me also.  Previously this particle has been compared with it’s brother 또 (Ddo) which means the same but the difference is, its a stand alone word.  It does not have to be connected to a noun.

Now I learned a practical application of the particle -도 in combination with the verbs 좋아요  (choayo) and 괜잖아요 (gwaenchanayo).   좋아요 means ‘is good’ or ‘to like’ while 괜잖아요 means ‘is okay’ or ‘to be alright’ or ‘makes no difference’.  The particle is actually attached to the infinitive form of the verb, in present tense.

The use of -도 in combination with 좋아요 or 괜잖아요 gives the same meaning as the English statements that asks or gives permission in this thought flow:

  • ‘is it okay if I…?
  • ‘can i…?
  • it is okay for you to…
  • you can…

He are some examples:

내일 공부해도 좋아요? (Naeil kongbuhado choayo?) – Is it okay to study tomorrow?

여기 앉아도 괜잖아요 (Yogi anjado gwaenchanayo) – I don’t mind if you sit here.  You can sit here

연필로 써도 좋아요 (Yeonpilro sseodeo chuayo) – You can write using pencil.

이 방에 계셔도 괜잖아요 (I bange kyesyeodo gwaenchanayo) – It’s okay for you to stay in this room.

Use of -과/-와

I have been reading comments about this particle that  is used to connect two noun.  It actually means ‘and’ in English usage — like books and bags, music and lyrics etc.  미안해요. It’s my bad. I really had it interchanged, the book and also a Korean friend confirmed that -과 (gwa) is used after a consonant ending word while -와 (wa) is used after a vowel.

So for the those who have been asking questions about it 과 goes with the consonant and the book was right it was my eyes that is not.

This made me review the entire lesson on this particle.  To recap, this particle is attached at the end of the noun or nouns used in a sentence like 연필 종이 책 (yeonpil-gwa, chongi-wa chaek).  This means pencil, paper and book.  If these nouns are used as topic in a sentence the topic marker -은/-는  will be added in the last noun, so in this case it would be 연필 종이 책은 (은 since 책 is ending in consonant).

Unlike the English counterpart this particle is pronounced as if part of the original word.  The pause is after the particle as illustrated below:

  • Korean: 연필과 <pause> 종이와 <pause> 책
  • English: pencil<pause> and paper <pause> and books (this is just an illustration as we know that it is grammatically incorrect to use and over and over again in English for series.  We use and before the last noun in the series and separate each word with just comma)

Another Modifier -는

Another modifier I learned today is -는 which is similar to topic particle used for words ending in vowel.  This new modifier is almost similar to -(으)ㄴexcept that it is specially used for processive verb. 

This modifier doesn’t mind the final character of the word whether vowel or consonant it is directly added to a processive verb.  Amazingly, unlike (으) ㄴ, this modifier cannot be used to descriptive verbs or adjectives.  Here are examples of its  application in certain processive verb:

  • 만나는 (manneun) from 마나 (manna) which means meet
  • 쓰는 (sseuneun) from 쓰(sseu)  which means write
  • 기다리는 (kidarineun) from 기다리 (kidari) which means  wait for
  • 가는 (kaneun) from 가 (ka) which means go
  • 먹는 (meokneun)  from 먹 (meok) which means eat
  • 보는 (boneun) from 보 (bo) which means look

This modifier added in a processive verb placed before a noun has a present meaning, that someone is verbing or doing.  This should somehow make this statement clear:

  • 쓰는 사람 (Sseunen saram) –> the person who is writing
  • 읽는 책 (ikneun chaek) –>the book that [he] is reading
  • 걸는 선생님 (keolneun seonsaengnim) –> the teacher who is walking.

So obvisouly for descriptive verbal nouns which takes auxiliary verb 해요,  one there is always the form descriptive verb+한 like this example: 깨끗한 방 (kkaekeuthan bang) would mean a room that is clean. 

However, for a processive verbal nouns with 해요, the verb 하 functions as processive so it taked the modifier 는. Such as 산보하는 사람 (sanbohaneun saram) which means a person who is taking a walk.  Comparing to the last modifier i learned -ㄴ when this is used on the example given –> 산보 사람 (sanbohan saram) it now means a peron who took a walk. Its meaning becomes past.

Expressing ‘Through’ or ‘By Way Of’

Before ‘pasting’ the post below, something random happened.  Yes I meant pasting because this post minus the first paragraph was posted 3 days ago in another blogsite that I am maintaining about my favorite Korean artist. Funny… I just realized today.

This post reminds me of an earlier topic I learned about saying ‘via’ or ‘by way’ or ‘through’.  This particle that I am referring to is 로 (ro) but this time its the pattern:

noun(를/을) 통해(서) where the object particle in the noun is actually optional.  통해(서) attached to a noun which is optionally marked with object particle means through or by way of the ,noun>.

This pattern is typically used with nouns indicating sources of information like person, media sources, activities etc.

Here are some examples of the use of this pattern:

1.  친구를 통해서  만났어요. (Chingureul tonghaeso mannaseoyo). I met her through a friend.

2.  도서관을 통해서 받을 수가 있어요. (Dosogran tonghaeso padeul suga isseoyo)  You can get it thorugh the library.

Some Special Use of Infinitive Verb + 도

There are some idiomatic uses of the verb in infinitive form followed by particle 도 (do).  Aside from its usual meaning of eventhough it can have a special meaning of minimum of maximum when used with selective descriptive verb.

  • 늦어도 (nuejeodo) – which means ‘at the latest’ aside from the direct translation meaning of even though it’s late
  • 적어도 (cheokeodo) – would mean ‘at least’  aside from the direct translation even though it’s few or small.

Here are samples of its use in a sentence:

  • 여기서부터 약국까지 적어도 1시간은 걸리겠어요. (Yogiseobuto yakkuk kaji cheokeodo han shikaneun keollikesseoyo) From here to pharmacy it must take at least 1 hour.
  • 늦어도 7시까지는 학교에 들어 가야 하거든요.  (Neujeodo ilgop shikkajineun hakyeoe duero kaya hageodeunyo) We have to return to school by 7 o’clock at the latest.

Expressing Doesn’t Have To

Few days ago I learned how to express ‘ have to’ or ‘ I must do’ which is in the form of  infinitive form of verb+ 야 해요.  This time it’s about saying ‘I don’t have to’.  It was not as simple as using the negative verb + 야 해요, instead for this expression, the negative verb + 도 is used.  Using one of my favorite verbs,  먹다 (meokda – to eat) here are examples:

  • Short negative – 안 먹어도 (an meokeodo)
  • Long negative – 먹지 않아도 (mokji anado)

The above examples both mean even if I don’t eat.  The final verb can be used are  돼요 (dwaeyo), 괜찮아요 (gwaenchanayo) or  좋아요 (choayo)  to complete the thought — it doesn’t matter, it’s alright or it’s okay.  Using the verb above here is a sample sentence construction:

오늘 밤에 먹지 않아도 괜찮아요.  (Oneul bame mokji anado gwaenchanayo). Even if I don’t eat late tonight, it doesn’ t matter.