Korean particles

I am having a ton of trouble with the particles in Korean because I can identify the word with popular translations but I don’t understand why they are just adding some of these particles. Is there a place to look up all the particles somewhere in order to learn words and then how and what to attach which particles to the words? Is there a place to look up the word with the particles stripped in order to see the base word?

What is the best way for somebody that is fresh to Korean to learn vocab with and without the particles when they are encountered. The dictionaries really hate politeness levels/particles/ and subject-less verbs like Korean has.
makes it a very difficult task. I am just wondering what the best way to use Lingq as an absolute beginner and the best way to tackle an agglunative language such as Korean from scratch. With the number of particles in Korean it’s hard to get a grasp on the language. Thanks advance for the advice!

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The basic ones are -이/가, -은/는, and -의. These are the ones you’ll see most often. If you can’t figure it out by reading through, you can go take some basic lessons in Korean grammar, you can find the content in anyplace where Korean language learning is discussed.

In addition to these, there are many conjugations that can be tacked on as well as levels of formality and sometimes abbreviations, so there’s a lot of ground to cover if you want to learn them one by one. I would recommend you focus on reading for now and you will get a sense for how the grammar works. One method I like to employ is to read a translated text for which I have the original material handy. That way you can cross reference between the languages and it makes picking out tenses and getting a feel for particles easier.

I used How To Study Korean.com to learn basic grammar. He has good explanations about verb conjugations and particles. Also Talk To Me In Korean.com free Grammar lessons. but those are like podcasts. I don’t know if it’s for everyone because they would sometimes talk 20min to explain just one point of grammar, but for me personally, those long explanations help understand it better.

When I’m doing Lingq if there is a verb ending or grammar structure I don’t understand I’ll just google the structure +“grammar” and get lots of sites with explanations.

Naver dictionary is good too. If you copy a whole phrase instead of just a single word they give you example sentences with translations, which also helps.

I also agree with TerraEarth you will pick up some of these structures just by reading because they are used a lot and you will see them over and over again.

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I second this, especially How To Study Korean for reference when you get stuck. I’m having this experience right now, where I see a cluster of syllables and cannot for the life of me unravel the meaning from it.

An example from earlier this evening:


in the sentence: 진영이는 뛰어보려고 하고 다나는 근력 운동을 한다.

뛰다 is the base verb form (or dictionary form), I think 어보 has the meaning of try or attempt, and then I had to look up 려고 on How To Study Korean to get the meaning of “intend to do”.

Yeah. It’s a hard language. Even “Who Is She” is too tough for me right now. I’m on Mini Story #16. Just have to keep pushing!

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I was facing the same situation 6 months ago when I started learning Korean seriously.

I noticed that I could understand some particles and verb endings right away, while others took a longer time to stick.

My first advice would be: don’t expect to understand how a certain particle works after looking it up in the dictionary or flipping through grammar explanations. It takes a lot of input - and a lot of time - to get the meaning. I would aim for a general understanding of a sentence at first, and then when you feel more comfortable with the language, explore the details.

My second advice is: look up grammar only when you need to, or when you are curious about something you’re reading. When that happens, google the sentence structure and take a look at some examples and uses. My routine is to tag any word that has an interesting structure for me with that same pattern (e.g. a word like 있도록 has the tag 도록) looking the structure up and copy-paste the meaning of that pattern in the notes section of one of my cards. This trains me to notice patterns better, and how they are used in different contexts. If i later want to review words and sentences that use that pattern, I can just filter them with that tag.

Ultimately, the more you read, listen, engage with the language, the more these patterns will become familiar. You just need to give your brain enough time to get used to the way Korean works.

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Honestly, whenever I have an issue with a grammar structure that I can’t figure out just through reading (which isn’t often) or I need help with pronunciation rules, I just search the things I’m having trouble with on youtube. Video lessons are awesome for that. Also, do not rely on machine translation, especially for longer, more complex sentences.

Which particles in that sentences confuse you? I see -은, -는, -만
은/는 mark the subject and/or topics of the noun, when they are both used like this it is usually to contrast the second object with the first.

The first: the answer (to the question)
The second: HER/HIS response (to the question)

You can answer to the question can be done directly (and that’s good)
You can JUST listen to the answer that I provide (and that’s good too)

See how these two phrases are being contrasted? You’ll see this pattern a million times. There’s more depth to it but it makes more sense as you see it in practice while reading.

One last word of advice, you don’t have to linger on every grammar structure, phrase or word that you don’t comprehend at first glance, if its not obvious to you just move on. Usually you will get enough exposure in the near future such that when you come back to that unfamiliar element, it will be familiar.

I agree with clarapast here. The input is much more important than the grammar explanation. Keep in mind that some of the endings in Korean are adding very subtle meanings such as how the speaker feels. This is something that English speakers can’t do without adding many words, and it’s very unusual to us. For example, the speaker can express that he/she is generally feeling negative that something happened and/or feel relieved something is done with an ending like ~어/아/여 버리다. This takes more time to notice at full speed and adjust to. You also get a much better feel for the meanings of these types of endings with a live person in front of you because you can pick up on the person’s body language and general mood.

Be careful with the grammar. Don’t match an ending with 1 grammar explanation in your head because many of these endings have multiple functions, combine with other endings, and even contract into shorter forms. You’ll really start to get a feel for the meanings and nuances with more input. It’s not as difficult as people are making it out to be, I promise. :smiley: Just trust your brain to figure out the patterns and reference grammar occasionally if you’re VERY curious.

I absolutely understand that it can be frustrating at the start, but all languages have their quirks, and the brain can solve all of them with time. Korean is no different there. You’ll get it!


보 is from “보다” = to look, watch, see
so it’s like “I run and then I see (how it goes/if I like it or not…)” which basically means “to try”
unfortunately, this way - looking at the parts and guessing the meaning of the compound - doesn’t always work 100%
Korean has a lot of those verbs that are two verbs put together - sometimes you can guess the meaning from the two original verbs and sometimes not

also, if I’m too lazy I would just look at this and say “ok 뛰어 so it has something to do with her running” and leave it at that and move on.

for example on Lingq I’m doing this book “10 best tales of Korea” by Korean Unnie 📒10 BEST TALES OF KOREA - YouTube
(I bought the book in pdf from her youtube with paypal and download the videos of her reading it and convert them into mp3 and then import it into Lingq)

and a lot of the verbs end in -답니다. the first time I saw it, I was like “ok I understand what the verb means so let’s move on, no need to know about whatever this 답니다 is, guess it means something” but then I noticed more and more verbs had that ending so I got curious and looked it up.

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I was wondering what do you guys do what about the dictionaries, the meanings for the a lot of the words are very abstract, which dictionaries do you guys use for Korean when you guys are linqing? Or how do you figure out what words are doing what in the sentence?

Where do you look up endings like 답니다 or some particles or other things that kind of have like an abstract meaning so through literal translation its hard to pick up the meaning?
sentences like these I have the original translation but it still hard to figure out they are using their words to convey that same message. I could just learn this means this in English but because of the nature of the particles they are using I don’t get to learn how to use that particle if I just memorize this as the English equivalent.

I usually use the Naver English-Korean dictionary, and I mainly focus on the “example sentences” part, in order to get the meaning somewhat right.
Google images works wonders, as well (even for a lot of abstract words).

For figuring out the roles of words in sentences it takes experience and practice. The more you lingq, the more you’ll start to get a feel for how words are used. Also, the grey shadow that appears and suggests you possible sentence lingqs is great. I’ve found lots of idiomatic expressions using that.

How do you use naver when you get really funny translations that you know are wrong or don’t not match the text? Also how do you learn to use the words with very abstract or untranslatable meanings?

Rather than each individual word, you’re better off working in chunks. Remember that the knowledge of words in their individuality or standalone form is possible only at an advanced stage.

If I were to dissect the sentence for you I would first divide it like this:

  1. 캔이라도 나오면
  2. 너 가만 안 둘 거야

Doing this allowed me to divide the sentence in clauses, which are much more manageable. I would then look up the meaning of 이라도, (으)면, so that you can understand the grammar used, the meaning of the first clause and connect the dots to what you see on papago.

As far as the second clause is concerned, it’s used as it is, like an idiomatic sentence, something in the lines of “I’ll make you pay (for it)!”.
Grammatically speaking, it has the future form formation ㄹ 거야 (informal), and the verb is 가만두다 in its negative form (안).

By reading your comment, I guess you are someone who likes to be very detailed with their learning (you want to know exactly what words mean and how they’re put together), therefore I’d like to suggest you a course you might like from Talk To Me In Korean (available on premium subscription). The course it’s called “Korean Listening practice for beginners” and it has a listening excerpt (along with the transcript) and after that a very detailed explanation of grammar and words used. I think you’ll like it.

Btw, I made a video showing a Korean study session on Lingq, if you’re interested: Study (Korean) With Me on Lingq! - YouTube

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I just google it. Then I read through a few of the results I get from google and see how they explain it. I never read just one, always more because they always explain it differently and getting it explained in different ways from different sources makes it stick better imo. Sometimes I also go to youtube and search for it and see if there is a video of someone explaining the grammar.

I wouldn’t actually learn how to actively use the particles. Go to How to Study Korean website and read the explanations and see how much of it sticks just by reading it.

Unfortunately I haven’t found any good books or online sources that put all the particles together and explain them all in a row (not for Korean) so you have to just go get your information from various different sources about the different particles. Or maybe do the thing Steve Kaufmann talked about on his youtube channel: He’d get some beginner textbook and read through it when starting a new language.

One thing I did in the beginning is sort of color coding sentences. (I don’t know if that’s the correct term) For example subject = red, verb = green, object = blue, time = pink a.s.o.

I’d write sentences in my notebook and then circle those parts according to my system with each corresponding color. Or if you don’t like handwriting I guess you can do that in Word or some program like that and change the font color. If you do this a few times you get used to Korean sentence structure.

One good hint I got once (which was actually for learning Japanese, but it applies to Korean as well) is to read sentences backwards, because the verb is always at the end.

하루 치 계획을 다 짜서 오셨더라고요

I didn’t know this 더라고요 ending and googled it and basically it is used if you witness or personally observe something happening or someone else doing something.
※ 오셨더라고요 = I witness/observe that someone came (I guess you know who someone is from the context)
※ 짜서 → 짜다 put together, form something → what is put together?
※ 계획을 = a plan
※ 계획을 짜다 = someone puts together / forms a plan
※ and there is 다 inbetween, it just means “all” → put together/form all the plan (form the plan completely)
※ 하루 치 = according the dictionary it means “one day’s something” → 하루 치 계확 = one day’s plan

That’s why in Korean context is important. Who is the person talking? Who are they talking about? I guess if you have the whole text where this sentence came from some things are more obvious.

개나 앵무새를 데리고 타는 게 - I don’t know about this one because technically it’s not a sentence, there is no verb at the end
something about taking a dog or a parrot somewhere

Also, finally if I don’t understand next to nothing in a sentence or text (i.e I’d have to look up every other word) it probably means it’s too difficult for me. So I’d go and look for something easier and build my vocabulary by reading things that have simpler sentence structure (shorter sentences) and then later go back and try to read that sentence or text again and find it much easier than the first time.

PS. Because a few people have mentioned Talk to Me In Korean now. If you follow them on twitter you can ask them grammar or word related questions and they’ll answer. from what i’ve seen they answer anything from beginner to advanced or at least give you a link where you can read about it.

@clarapast thank you for your explanation it’s just what I needed to hear thank you! I will start the essential course to get me more of a grammatical foundation. By the way I watched your korean reading video your english is native like accent and flow very impressive I just realized you spoke italian lol. This describes me very well "I guess you are someone who likes to be very detailed with their learning (you want to know exactly what words mean and how they’re put together) "

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I have kind of wrapped my head around the general function of particles (idk know many of them but just how they are used in the language) I was just wondering is there any purpose for 4 and/with particles? Korean Particles (and): ~과/와, ~랑/이랑 and ~하고 is there any difference that is hidden between these? BTW this language is fascinating with all the quirks and unique features it has.

No particularly huge difference. In lexical meaning they’re mostly interchangeable. In speaking, people will say 랑/이랑 and 하고, but in formal writing you will see more 과/와. It’s kind of like 한테/에게/께/께서. The vast majority of the time, people use 한테 with speaking, but the other forms can appear in more formal situations. A relevant example would be 선생님에게 is more natural than 선생님한테. It’s a title with a respectful title in 님… so it makes sense! Sounds like you’re having a great time and getting more comfortable. Good to see :smiley:

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Thanks for the help!!! Yeah slowly learning Korean just focusing on mini-stories vocab and will hopefully just learn the flow of the particles flow/syntax of language over the next few years. Also learned how to use all the dictionaries mainly naver a lot better hehe thing is a very useful puzzle once solved its hard to live without. Thanks again!

I was smooth sailing through the mini stories/who is she and got de-railed a little bit some of the community translations paired with lingq seperating things like

말 can also be a noun which means “words” or “language”
보단 is short for 보다+는 Koreans like to shorten or drop things a lot, especially when they speak.

Also, I’ve noticed in the mini stories sometimes you have to be careful, because they have errors, like words or phrases written together that should be seperated or words written seperatedly that should be together. Even within the same story on one page you will have a phrase written seperatedly and on the next page it’s suddenly written together… Never really know what to do with those.

Netflix dramas can be a good way to learn. Not just the language itself but also how people interact with each other in different social situations, especially if it is something about modern every day life. Even if you don’t actively learn from a Netflix drama you will automatically pick up phrases/words/patterns they always say in certain situations (for example when eating, when meeting friends, at work etc.) just by watching, because they will say them repeatedly over and over again.

I wouldn’t actually wait to get to the interesting stuff. Just try it. Find something you’re interested in and try it out. I think sometimes people underestimate themselves. You might be surprised how much you actually understand. Also, if it is stuff you’re interested in you are more willing to put in the work. And, if it is still too difficult, even after you’ve tried it, you can always put it aside, go pick something easier and go back to it later.

Maybe try alternating between difficult texts and easy texts. If you just stick to easy texts you can get caught up in this “beginner/intermediate safe zone” and not get out of it, and if you only try working through difficult texts it can be tiresome because of how much time it takes. So alternating them is maybe a good way.

On a side note: Who wrote the translations for the mini stories? Why did they decide to “translate” the names ? For example the Korean sentence might be something like “주연이 학교에 가요” and the translation will be “Bob goes to school” ?

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