The Possessive 의

Now I had the impression that Koreans are not fond of using pronouns unlike in English that its even gender specific.  It is preferred to address people in their titles or names. 

Another thing I learned is the use of 의 to indicate possession.  In English we normally add ‘s in pronouns to indicate possession.  For example when asked ‘whose pen is this?’, we can simply answer “it’s her’s” or “it’s Joan’s”.  This is where 의 comes in.  This particle is added to a noun to indicate possession.


Mr. Kim’s book —>  김 선생님

Jane’s skirt —> 제인 치마

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).

Word Pattern and Basic Vowels

In most Korean books I read, the characters are discussed only after the common phrases are introduced. There may be a scientific explanation about this.  When I gained interest in learning Hangul, I immediately checked on the characters and its near equivalent to the alphabet.  Most books say you need to hear how the words are pronounced by native Korean speakers <this is another tough task–to find a native speaker> .  I must say I have memorized the characters at least the basic ones. 

ㅏ (a) as in ant

ㅓ (eo) as hot

ㅗ (aw) as in toe

ㅜ (oo) as in loo

ㅡ (u) short uh sound as in put

ㅣ (i) as in feet

ㅐ (ae) as in apple

ㅔ (e) as in pet

There are other vowels aside from these.  In fact they have more vowels than consonants.  From my readings words seemed to be formed by sound.

Word for the day starts with the ㅏ sound.  아버지 (a-beo-ji) means father.  Note that the word actually starts with the ㅇ  character which is actually classified as consonant in Hangul.  When i was doing initial self study I learned that the pattern per block is Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (C-V-C) and in some cases could be C-V-C-C.  I noticed that if the word has to start with a vowel sound, ㅇ  is present.  Then I learned that this character is actually silent in terms of pronunciation and will only have a sound if its used as final consonant in a word.  In such cases ㅇ  becomes ‘ng’ in sound such as the word 사랑 (sa-rang) then C-V-C pattern still applies.