Main Body

2 Preliminaries II | 들어가기 II

들어가기 4. Letters Into Syllables

As mentioned in 들어가기 2, consonants and vowels are combined into 글자 geul-ja, which represent syllables in Korean. There are two basic ways to arrange the letters into syllable-blocks, depending on which consonant (C) and vowel (V) sounds are in the 글자 geul-ja.

There are also spelling conventions that you must learn in Korean — you can’t just write Korean words any old way or however you think they sound (aaz iff thayr wur noh spehleeng roolz)!

1. Korean Syllables: CV and CVV

Syllable Formation Examples
consonant-vowel ㅅ + ㅓ

ㅉ + ㅏ

서 stand!

짜 salty

ㅇ + ㅗ

ㄱ + ㅜ

오 five

구 nine

consonant-complex vowels ㅇ + ㅘ

ㄱ + ㅟ

와 come!

귀 ear

Practice reading these words.

커피

coffee

어머니

mother

여자

woman

누구

who

그리고

and

주유소

gas station

과자

chips

의사

doctor

돼지

pig

Hangeul Chart for CV (Simple Vowels)

Here is an overview chart of how each consonant combines with each vowel. Although any consonant can be combined with any vowel to create a syllable, some combinations are not frequently used in real life.

Vowels →

Consonants ↓

  • It will be safe to think that the vowel pairs ㅏ-ㅑ, ㅓ-ㅕ, ㅗ-ㅛ, ㅜ-ㅠ, ㅐ-ㅒ, andㅔ-ㅖ in the ㅈ and ㅊ rows sound identical.

연습 1. CV

Practice reading these words. Circle the word your partner says.

추워

cold

하루

a day

누구

who

모자

cap, hat

아버지

father

스키

ski

포도

grape

커피

coffee

꼬마

little kid

뿌리

root

가짜

fake

머리띠

hair band

그저께

the day before yesterday

찌개

stew

쓰다

to write

구두

dress shoes

연습 2. CVV

Practice reading these words. Circle the word your partner says.

ear

하와이

Hawaii

회의

meeting

why?

과자

chips

의사

doctor

돼지

pig

예의

manners

연습 3. Loan Words

Korean has some words borrowed from English. Read the following words and guess their meanings.

1)     라디오

2)     커피

3)     러시아

4)     하와이

5)     카메라

6)     스트레스

7)     아파트

8)     스위스

2. Korean Syllables: CVC(C) and CVVC

Syllables with final consonants are quite common in Korean. The final consonant (called 받침, batchim) goes on the bottom regardless of whether the vowel is “vertical” or “horizontal.”

Syllable Formation Examples
consonant-simple

vowel-consonant(s)

ㅇ+ㅣ+ㄹ

ㅅ+ ㅏ+ ㅁ

ㄱ+ ㅏ+ ㅄ

일 one

삼 three

값 price

ㅇ+ ㅠ+ ㄱ

ㄱ+ ㅗ+ ㅇ

ㅁ+ ㅜ+ ㄹ

육 six

공 zero

물 water

consonant-complex

vowels-consonant(s)

ㅇ+ ㅘ+ ㅇ

ㄱ+ ㅝ+ ㄴ

ㅇ+ ㅚ+ ㄴ

왕 king

권 volume

왼쪽 left

Let’s practice reading these words with a 받침 batchim.

inside

road

three

neck

soon

middle

month

fifty (for age)

king

Here are some notes on reading words with 받침 batchim.

The seven representatives  

Although 글자 geul-ja are spelled with a variety of 받침 batchim — and two-consonant 받침 batchim in some cases — the consonant sounds that are actually pronounced at the end of a Korean syllable are very limited. In fact, only seven representative consonants can be pronounced at the end of a syllable or word. They belong to two categories: sonorous sounds (ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅇ, and ㄹ) and simple stop sounds (ㄱ, ㄷ, and ㅂ). Consequently, there are no s or ch sounds at the ends of syllables in Korean, which is why you cannot pronounce words like bus without the empty vowel added to the end (as in, 버스). But, there is no problem with sonorant sounds at the ends of syllables, so pen is 펜.

So, when the syllable ends in a consonant (받침 batchim), the final consonant is pronounced in one of only seven ways in Korean. ㄷ, ㅌ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅊ, and ㅎ 받침 batchim are all pronounced as ㄷ:

sickle

individual piece

daytime

face, mug

The letters at left are pronounced as the representative at right when they are 받침 batchim.

Quiz: Can you remember the pronunciations of the following written syllable-final letters?

ㅅ     ㅆ     ㅈ     ㅊ     ㅋ     ㄲ     ㅌ     ㅍ     ㅎ

ANSWER: In pronunciation, [ㄱ] represents ㄱ, ㄲ, and ㅋ; [ㅂ] represents ㅂ andㅍ (syllable-final ㅃ does not occur); and [ㄷ] represents the whole second row above. As you pronounce all the letter-sounds on each row above — try to feel the movement of your tongue — you can see the reasoning behind this seemingly crazy substitution. ㄲ and ㅋ are sounds made in the back of the mouth, and so is ㄱ; the simplest sound of each sort replaces the more complex sounds! Now, can you understand the other groups? Pronounce the sounds ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅌ, and ㅎ silently and slowly. These are teeth sounds (except for ㅎ) and are represented by the simplest sound ㄷ. How about ㅂ and ㅍ? They are lip sounds, and ㅂ is considered simpler than ㅍ.

Let’s try reading these words with a 받침 batchim.

Remember that Korean final consonants are never released!

Seven Representatives Final Consonant 받침 Batchim Examples
ㄱ, ㅋ, ㄲ

[a surname]

outside

부엌

kitchen

hand

eye

inside

ㄷ, ㅌ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅎ
곧 right away 곳 place 꽃 flower
있다

to exist

cast iron pot

히읗

letter “ㅎ”

(uncooked) rice

rock

honey

spring

아침

morning

점심

lunch

ㅂ, ㅍ

mouth

leaf

(cooked) rice; meal, food

river

king

window pane

Reading ㄹ 받침 batchim

When ㄹ comes at the end of a syllable, it sounds like the English l when it is pronounced at the beginning of a word (much like lady, little, low, or let). It does NOT sound like the English dark l at the end of a word (e.g., in words like ball, doll, all, or cool). Be careful!!

Examples

  1. moon
  2. water
  3. 다 to play
  4. 다 to live
  5. 름 film
  6. 래? wanna buy? (INFORMAL QUESTION)

Syllables ending in two consonants 

Syllables ending in two consonants are far rarer than those ending in single consonants, but they do occur, usually in verbs or adjectives. Here are some examples.

Examples

  1. outside
  2. 다 to cook by boiling
  3. 다 short
  4. 다 to exist
  5. 다 to not exist
  6. 다 to read
  7. 다 to sit
  8. 다 to lick
  9. 다 a lot of

The following consonant combinations can be used as 받침 batchim:

ㄲ  ㅆ  ㄳ  ㄵ  ㄶ  ㄺ  ㄻ   ㄼ  ㄽ  ㄾ  ㄿ  ㅀ   ㅄThe tricky business about pronouncing words with two final consonants is to figure out which final consonant is actually pronounced. (Remember that Korean can have only ONE representative final consonant.)  These pesky complex-consonant words should be tackled as they come along.

The spill-over rule 

One more very important thing to remember about writing and pronouncing Korean syllables is the spill-over or liaison rule. Although only seven simple consonants are allowed in syllable-final position, what was suppressed comes alive when the next syllable begins with a vowel! In other words, the final consonant of a syllable spills over to the next syllable if that next syllable begins with a vowel sound. This provides a way to figure out how a word is spelled – when it comes with a vowel after it, you can hear the true identity of any 받침 batchim that had been reduced to a representative simple sound. Compare how the following pairs are pronounced (the pronunciation is given in square brackets after each word):

Examples

  1. [박] vs. 에 [바게]
  2. [박] vs. 에 [바께]
  3. [낟] vs. 에 [나세]
  4. [낟] vs. 에 [나제]
  5. 아 [아나] vs. 아 [안자]
  6. 이 [지비] vs. 이 [지피]

Can’t I use the liaison rule for the complex final consonants?  Yes! The second of the final two consonants moves over (in pronunciation!) if the following syllable starts with a vowel sound:

Examples

  1. 아 [안자] sit
  2. 어 [일거] read
  3. 은 [절믄] young
  4. 으면 [발브면] if you step on
  5. 이 [업씨] without

연습 1. Loan Words

Read the following words borrowed from English and guess their meanings.

1)     워싱턴     플로리다     캔자스     와이오밍     펜실베니아

2)     뉴욕     도쿄     파리     베이징     런던

3)     캐나다     스페인     멕시코     프랑스     베트남

4)     컴퓨터     프린터     텔레비전     인터넷     카메라

5)     택시     버스     스케이트     스키     스노보드

6)     샌드위치     햄버거     콜라     핫도그     아이스크림

연습 2. Korean Foods

These are the names of popular Korean foods. Do you know what they are?

불고기 비빔밥 라면 소주 갈비
순두부 팥빙수 짜장면 치맥 김치
bibimbap galbi silken tofu stew soju jjajangmyeon
1) 2) 3) 4) 5)
jar of kimchi ramyeon chimaek red bean shaved ice plate of bulgogi
6) 7) 8) 9) 10)

연습 3. What is your name in Korean?

Practice writing names in Korean.

  1. Write your name in Korean.
  2. Write the names of three classmates in Korean.

SPACING

A space is necessary between words in Korean. A “word” can be as simple as a noun or pronoun like 은비 Eunbi or 저 me/I-humble, a noun or pronoun plus a marker (은비는 or 저는), or it may be as complex as a conjugated verb with connectors and suffixes attached. What do NOT count as words for the purposes of spacing are markers by themselves, verbal suffixes by themselves, and the verb 이에요/예요! Here’s an example:

Examples

? .
.
.

Hello. I am Eunbi. I am a Korean. Nice to meet you. 

SPEAKING AND WRITING

Korean has many pronunciation rules — that is, changes in the way that words and letters are pronounced when you put words together, or changes that make the words sound different from how they are written. They are along the lines of the “ch” sound in the English phrase “got you.”

Throughout the textbook, pronunciation rules are explained along with relevant vocabulary so that you can make connections between the rules and words where they occur — that way, you can internalize the rules.

들어가기 5. Let’s Speak Korean!

BASIC KOREAN SENTENCE STRUCTURE

There are three important points about basic sentence structure in Korean.

1) The verb always comes last in a Korean sentence. 

Examples

  1. 저는 한국사람이에요. I am a Korean.
  2. 장화가 홍련이를 기다려요. Janghwa awaits Hongryeon.

As long as the verb comes last, other parts may be scrambled with the same general sentence meaning:

Examples

  1. 장화가 홍련이를 기다려요. Janghwa awaits Hongryeon.
  2. 홍련이를 장화가 기다려요. Janghwa awaits Hongryeon.

2) Korean has particles.

Some parts of the sentence, like the subject and the object of the verb, as well as location words, have a special suffix-like marker (a.k.a. particle) whose function is to indicate their role in the sentence. You’ll learn a number of markers as you progress. For a taste, let’s look at these famous examples, where the meaning of the sentence depends solely on what particles you interpret the sentence to have.

Examples

아버지                  방                            들어가요.             The father goes into the room.

father-subject          room (location)       go in (polite)

 

아버지                     가방에                          들어가요.            (I) get into the father’s bag.

father                       bag (location)             go in (polite)

3) Korean does not always have a subject present in the sentence.

The subject is often dropped, especially in conversation:

Examples

저는 니콜입니다.  ___ 미국 사람이에요.             I am Nicole. (I) am an American.

 

가: ___ 학생이에요?                                                Are (you) a student?

나: 네, ___ 학생이에요.                                           Yes, (I) am a student.

연습 1. True or False

1) Korean verbs always come last in a sentence.

2) The object may come before the subject in Korean sentences.

3) The subject cannot be omitted in a sentence.

4) Particles are used to define the role of a noun in a sentence (such as subject or location).

TASTE OF KOREAN CONVERSATION

1. 숫자 Sino-Korean Numbers

Sino-Korean numbers were borrowed from Chinese long ago and are now part of the Korean number system. Sino-Korean numbers are used when referring to a numbered item, such as a page or a numbered exercise. In this case the numbers are used almost like names.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
영/공

공 and 영 are both used in reciting phone numbers and addresses. In math, only 영 is used to mean zero.

연습 1. 전화 번호 Telephone Numbers

Many Korean businesses pick fun and witty phone numbers based on how they sound. Work with a classmate to figure out what service the following companies may offer!

114 119 8282 2424 9292
1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

2. Asking Yes/No questions in Korean

Useful Expressions

yes

아니요

no

좋아해요

like

싫어해요

do not like

What you like and don’t like

공부

studying

숙제

homework

김치

kimchi

커피

coffee

불고기

bulgogi

피자

pizza

In Korean, the structure of a Yes/No question is the same as that of a statement. However, you need to raise the intonation at the end of the sentence.

Examples

가: 커피 좋아해요?                    (Do you) like coffee?

나: 네. 커피 좋아해요.               Yes. (I) like coffee.

Yes is 네/예 and No is 아니요 in Korean. The usage of 네/예 vs. 아니요 is a little bit different from English. 네/예 can express “you are right” while 아니요 implies “you are not right.” We will revisit this later.

연습 1. 좋아해요? 싫어해요?

Read these words and guess the meaning of each word. Then ask your partner if they like each one.

(Example)                    A: 커피 좋아해요?                    B: 네!☺    or    아니요 ☹

1) 커피 네 아니요

2) 불고기 네 아니요

3) 김치 네 아니요

4) 피자 네 아니요

5) 한국어 공부 네 아니요

6) 숙제 네 아니요

3. The verbs 있어요 and 없어요

Have and don’t have

green check mark red x
있어요

have

없어요

do not have

Everyday Items

가방

bag, backpack

money

시계

watch, clock

우산

umbrella

전화

telephone

지갑

wallet

book

컴퓨터

computer

The verb 있어요 expresses existence (exists or there is) or possession (has), and the verb 없어요 expresses a lack (there is no or does not have) — the opposite of 있어요. Both verbs can be used regardless of the number of items in existence (or lacking). Since they are verbs, they come at the end of the sentence.

Examples

가: 책 있어요?                                         Do you have a book?

나: 네. 있어요/ 아니요. 없어요.           Yes, I do/ No, I don’t.

연습 1. 있어요? 없어요?

(Part I) Read these words and guess the meaning of each word. Match the word with its picture.

우산 시계 전화
(Example) a
지갑 컴퓨터 가방
open book with red bookmark red purse opened wallet desktop computer displaying online shopping mall with keyboard and mouse
a b c d
clock yellow umbrella with raindrops smartphone large bags of money with coins around them
e f g h

(Part II) Then ask your partner if they have each item. Find out who has more items!

(Example)                   A: 프린터 있어요?                   B: 네!☺     or    아니요 ☹

들어가기 6. Useful Expressions

EVERYDAY EXPRESSIONS

Here are some commonly used expressions. They are polite expressions and can be used with peers, older persons or strangers. Try using these expressions every day!

안녕하세요?

Hello.

안녕히 가세요.

Goodbye. (to someone who’s leaving)

안녕히 계세요.

Good-bye. (to someone who’s staying)

실례합니다

Excuse me.

미안합니다

I am sorry.

죄송합니다.

I am sorry. (more polite)

고맙습니다.

Thank you.

감사합니다.

Thank you. (more formal)

내일 봐요.

See you tomorrow.

two okay hand signs
네.

Yes.

아니요.

No.

괜찮아요?  괜찮아요.

Is it okay? / It’s okay.

연습 1.

What would you say in the following situations?  Practice with your partner.

How do you greet a friend in the morning? You forgot to bring your homework. What would you say to your instructor?
You forgot your mother’s birthday! What would you say to them? Your friend is talking to someone and you need to speak to them. How would you interrupt the conversation?
Your friend gave you a nice present on your birthday. What would you say? You saw someone attractive at a party and want to ask their name. What would you say to them?
Your friend’s mother paid for your dinner at a nice restaurant. What would you say? Class is over, and you want to say “see you tomorrow” to your classmates. What would you say to them?
What would you say to a friend who is staying? What would you say to your friend when they are leaving your house?
If someone asks whether you can speak English, what would you say? If a stranger asks if you can lend them $100, what would you say?
You cooked bibimbap for your friend at a dinner party and want to know if it tastes okay. What would you say to them? Your friend asked if it would be fine to meet you at 10 AM this Saturday. If this time works for you, what would you say?

CLASSROOM EXPRESSIONS

The following expressions are frequently used in classrooms. They will become familiar soon!

teacher asking if there is a question boy raising his hand to ask a question in class boy and girl sitting in classroom in front of teacher
질문 있어요?

Do you have any questions?

네, 질문 있어요.

Yes, I have a question.

아니요, 질문 없어요.

No, I don’t have a question.

한국말로 하세요.

Please speak in Korean.

girl listening
여기 보세요.

Please look here.

잘 들으세요.

Listen carefully.

따라 하세요.

Repeat after me.

한 번 더 해 보세요.

Try it one more time!

(teacher to student)

turning in homework
읽어 보세요.

Please try reading it.

써 보세요.

Please try writing it.

짝하고 (같이) 하세요.

Please work (together) with a partner.

숙제 내세요.

Turn in your homework.

how do you say something in Korean_
한 번 더 해 주세요.

Please do/speak it once more. (student to teacher)

천천히 해 주세요.

Please go/speak slowly.

더 큰 소리로 해 주세요.

Please do/speak louder.

___ 한국말로 뭐예요?

How do you say __ in Korean?

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You Speak Korean! Book 1 by Soohee Kim, Emily Curtis, Haewon Cho, Angela Lee-Smith, and Mijeong Kim is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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