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Lesson 1: Basic Korean Sentences

The vocabulary is separated into nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for the purpose of simplicity.
Hover your mouse over any word to see examples of that word in use (you probably wont be able to understand the
grammar within the sentences at this point, but it is good to see as you progress through your learning).
A FREE PDF file neatly presenting all of these words and example sentences in addition to common usages and specific
notes can be found here.
Want to give your brain practice at recognizing these words? Try finding the words in this vocabulary list in a Word Search.
= Korea
= city
= name
= I
= I
= man
= woman
= that
= this
= that (when object is far away)
= thing
= chair
= table
= teacher
= bed
= house
= car
= person
= book
= computer
= tree
= sofa
= China
= Japan
= door
= doctor
= to be (acts like an adjective)
= not
= yes
= no
For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.

Greeting Words
When learning a language, people always want to learn hello, how are you, and thank you before anything else. I
know that. However, at this stage you onlyknow words and have no knowledge or experience in how to use or conjugate
these words. The grammar within these words is too complex for you to understand right now. However, you can just
memorize these words as one unit and not worry about the grammar within them at this point.
= hello
or = thank you
( is the infinitive form of this word. It can be conjugated a variety of different ways [discussed in Lesson
5 and Lesson 6])
? = How are you
Technically the appropriate expression in Korean, but not as common as how are you in English. I would say that using
? is an English style of greeting people in Korean.
= Please
It is, of course, important for you to memorize these expressions in Korean, but you need to know that there is a reason
why they are said that way. For now, dont worry about why they are said that way, and simply memorize them. We will get
back to them in later lessons when they become important.

Sentence Word Order

One of the hardest things to wrap your head around in Korean is the alien-like sentence structure. For our purposes in
Lesson 1, Korean sentences are written in the following order:
Subject Object Verb (for example: I hamburger eat)
Subject Adjective (for example: I beautiful)
I am going to quickly explain what a subject and object mean, as your ability to understand later concepts depends on
your understanding of this.
The subject refers to person/thing/noun/whatever that is acting. The subject does the action of the verb. For example, the
subject in each sentence below is underlined:
I went to the park
I will go to the park
My mom loves me
He loves me
The dog ran fast
The clouds cleared up
In English, the subject always comes before the verb.
The object refers to whatever the verb is acting on. For example, the object in each sentence below is underlined
My mom loves me
The dog bit the mailman
He ate rice
Students studied Korean
In English, the object always comes after the verb. However, a sentence with a verb does not require an object. For
I slept
I ate
He died
Sometimes there is no object because it has simply been omitted from the sentence. For example, I ate or I ate rice are
both correct sentences. Other verbs, by their nature, cannot have a subject. For example, you cannot place an object after
the verbs sleep or die.
Subjects are also present in sentences with adjectives. However, there is no object in a sentence with an adjective. The
subjects are underlined in the following adjective-sentences below:
School is boring
I am boring
The movie was funny
The building is big
My girlfriend is pretty
The food is delicious
It is incredibly important that you understand this from the very beginning. Every Korean sentence MUST end in either a
verb (like eat, sleep or walk) or an adjective (like beautiful, pretty, and delicious). This rule is so important that Im going to
say it again: Every Korean sentence MUST end in either a verb or adjective.
It is also important to point out here that there are two ways to say I or me in Korean. Depending on how polite you
need to be speaking, many things within a sentence (mostly the conjugation) can change. You wont learn about the
different honorific conjugations until Lesson 6, so you do not need to worry about understanding those until then. However,
before you reach those lessons, you will see two different words for I, which are:
, used in informal sentences, and
, used in formal sentences.
As Lessons 1 5 make no distinction of formality, you will see both and arbitrarily used. Dont worry about why one
is used over the other until Lesson 6, when politeness will be explained.
Okay, now that you know all of that, we can talk about making Korean sentences.
Korean Particles (~/ and ~/)

Most words in a Korean sentence have a particle (a fancy word to say something) attached to them. These particles
indicate the role of each word in a sentence that is, specifically which word is the subject or object. Note that there is
absolutely no way of translating these particles to English, as we do not use anything like them.
The following are the particles you should know for this lesson:
or (Subject)
This is placed after a word to indicate that it is the subject of a sentence.
Use when the last letter of the last syllable of the subject is a vowel. For example:
Use when the last letter of the last syllable of the subject is a consonant. For example:
or (Object)
This is placed after a word to indicate that is the object of a sentence.
Use when the last letter of the last syllable is a vowel. For example:
Use when the last letter of the last syllable is a consonant. For example:
We can now make sentences using the Korean sentence structure and the Korean particles.
1) I speak Korean = I Korean speak
is attached to I (the subject)
is attached to Korean (the object)
2) I like you = I you like
is attached to I (the subject)
is attached to you (the object)
3) I wrote a letter = I letter wrote
is attached to I (the subject)
is attached to letter (the object)
4) I opened the door = I door opened
is attached to I (the subject)
is attached to the door (the object)
5) My mom will make pasta = My mom pasta will make
is attached to my mom (the subject)
is attached to pasta (the object)
I am sure that you will be tempted to start substituting Korean words into those constructions to make real Korean
sentences. However, at this point, that is too complicated. The goal of this lesson is to familiarize yourself with
the structure of Korean sentences.
The same could be done for sentences with adjectives. However, remember that sentences with adjectives will not have
an object:
1) My girlfriend is pretty: My girlfriend is pretty
: is attached to my girlfriend (the subject)
2) The movie was scary = The movie was scary
: is attached to the movie (the subject)
There is one more particle that you should be aware of before we go any further.

(Place or time)
We havent talked about places or times yet, but if you do an action at a time, you must attach the particle to the word
indicating the time.
is also attached to a word to indicate that it is a place in the sentence. I want to write more about what does, but
at this point, it would only confuse you. For now, it is sufficient to know that is used to indicate a place in a sentence.
Again, it is hard to translate these particles into English, but, plays the role of the underlined words in the following
1) I went at 3pm
2) I went to the park
Sentences with a place/time can also have an object in them. For example:
3) I ate hamburgers at 3pm
If I were to write those same sentence using Korean structure and particles, they would look like this:
1) I 3pm went
2) I park went
3) I hamburgers 3pm ate
In these cases, at 3pm or to the park act as adverbs (a word that tells you when, where, how, how much). There is no
set place for an adverb within a sentence, and it can generally be placed anywhere (except the end). Adverbs will be
discussed at length in Lesson 8.
Again, the purpose of this first part of Lesson 1 was to familiarize yourself with the different Korean particles and sentence
structure. This knowledge will act as your base for upcoming lessons when you will apply yourself to make actual
sentences with verbs/adjectives in Korean. While you will have to wait a little bit to create those types of sentences, we
can now talk about creating actual Korean sentences with the word to be.

To be:
Now its time to learn how to make an actual sentence using the word to be. English speakers often dont realize how
difficult this word is in English. Look at the following examples:
I am a man
He is a man
They are men
I was a man
They were men
In each of those sentences, the word to be is represented by a different word (is/am/are/was/were) depending on the
subject and tense of the sentence. Luckily, in Korean, the same word is used to represent is, am, are, was and were. This
word is
should not be thought of as a verb or an adjective in Korean, as in most cases it acts differently. I will teach you how
differs from verbs and adjectives as it becomes important (in future lessons).
Sometimes however, is somewhat similar to adjectives. Remember that sentences ending with adjectives do not
have objects in them. Whenever a sentence is predicated by an adjective, there will be no object in the
sentence.Only sentences with verbs have objects. Lets look at some examples:
I eat hamburgers (eat is a verb, the object is a hamburger)
I meet my friend (meet is a verb, the object is my friend)
I study Korean (study is a verb, the object is Korean)
I listen to music (listen is a verb, the object is music)
All of those sentences (can) have objects because the verb is the predicate of the sentence. However, in sentences that
are predicated by adjectives:
I am pretty
I am beautiful
I am hungry
I am smart
This means that we can never use the particle ~/ in a sentence predicated by an adjective (because ~/ denotes
that there is an object). The object particle is also not used when using the word . The basic structure for a sentence
predicated by is:
[noun/] [another noun] []
For example:
I man = I am a man
Now substitute the words for man and I:
= I
= man
+ +
gets attached directly to the noun. So, the above construction looks like:
= I am a man
It is very important that you remember that ~/ is not attached to words in sentences with . The following would
be very incorrect:
is the only word that acts like this, and is one of the reasons why you should treat it differently than other verbs or
Important: The focus of this lesson (and Lessons 2 and 3) is to introduce you to simple Korean sentence structure. Until
you reach Lesson 5 and Lesson 6 you will not be exposed to the conjugations and honorifics of Korean verbs, adjectives
and . In reality, these words are never (or very very rarely) used without these conjugations and honorifics. Therefore,
while I stress the importance of understanding the structure of the sentences presented in this Lessons 1, 2, 3 and 4 do
not use the sentences in any form of communication with Korean people, as they will most likely not be understood.
In order to completely understand what is presented in Lessons 5 and 6 (and for the rest of your Korean studies), it is
essential that you understand what is presented in these first four lessons even though they may be seen as technically
For all of the technically incorrect (un-conjugated) sentences presented in Lesson 1 4 I will provide a correct
(conjugated) version of the same sentence in parenthesis below the un-conjugated version (one formal and one informal
conjugation). Note one more time that you will not understand these conjugations until Lessons 5 and 6 (for verbs and
adjectives) and Lesson 9 (for ).
Other examples of in use:
= I am a woman
( / )
= I am a teacher
( / )
= I am a person
( / )
______ = I am a _______
( _______ / _____)
You can substitute any noun into the blank space to make these sentences.

This and That (//)

You can see in the vocabulary above that the word for this is in Korean.
We use in Korean when we are talking about something that is within touching distance (For example: this pen i.e.
the one I am holding). Just like in English (this) is placed before the noun it is describing. For example:
= This person
= This man
= This woman
= This car
= This table
= This chair
Unfortunately, there are two words for that: and . English learners arealways confused with the difference between
and .
We use when we are talking about something from a previous sentence. Providing examples would be too difficult right
now because you do not know any Korean sentences. However, if I were to say: I dont like that man [when your friend
mentioned him in a previous sentence]. The word that in that sentence would be how is used.
We use when we are talking about something that we can see, but cannot touch because it is too far away.
Just like we can place or before a noun to describe this or that thing
= That person
= This person
= That man
= That woman
= That thing
= That thing
= This thing
= That chair
= That table
We can now use these nouns as subjects or objects in a sentence. We will look at how they can be used with next.

Using This/That with
Remember, can be used to say am/is/are. So, if we want to say this:
That person is a doctor
- We can start by putting those words into the Korean structure:
That person doctor is
- And then change the English words to the appropriate Korean words:
+ +

( )
More examples:
= that person is a teacher
( / )
= this thing is a table
( / )
= that thing is a bed
( / )
= that person is a man
( / )
= that person is a woman
( / )
= that thing is a car
( / )
= this thing is a tree
( / )
Wow! That was an extremely difficult lesson. If you were to pick up another Korean text book, I am sure the first chapter
would be much easier than this. Trust me though; learning this at the start will be very useful to you later on. When I was
learning how to speak Korean, it took me months to realize some of these things (not because they were hard, but
because I was using a text book that never taught me the reason why things are the way they are in Korean).
Before you move on, make sure you understand the simple Korean sentence structure presented in this first lesson. Also,
remember that the sentences not in parentheses are technically incorrect (or very very uncommon) because they have not
been conjugated.