So, you learned a few Korean words and phrases…
But, how do you make sentences in Korean? People speak in sentences. Books are written in sentences. We’re going to need sentences over here!
If you’re an English speaker, you know that English’s basic sentence structure and word order is….SVO: Subject + Verb + Object I + am + Kimchi
The Korean language, though, follows different structures and word orders. I’ll explain the top 4 basic Korean sentence structures and word orders below. For your reference, remember the abbreviations..
1. S + N. Subject + Noun
나는 학생이다. Naneun haksaeng-ida – I am a student.
While this structure is marked as S+ N, there is an arguable verb in there. It’s the ending – ida – which is often used and translated as the verb “to be,” but mostly it’s an affirmative copula (a copula is a word that links the subject of a sentence to a noun or adjective, and may or may not be a verb, but is translated as “to be.”)
To break this sentence down..
- 나는 -Naneun – I
- 학생 – haksaeng – student
- 이다 – ida – verb copula and often translated as “to be”
2. S + V. Subject + Verb
Sometimes you just want to say you’re doing an action and context isn’t necessary.“What’s Bob doing around this time? Bob sleeps.” So, let’s look at the example below.
유나는 달린다. yunaneun dallinda. – Yuna runs. (Yuna- S, runs- V)
- 유나 – Yuna (a name)
- 는 – Neun – (topic marker and points to Yuna, because we’re taking about her)
- 달린다 – Dallinda – Run
3. S + A. Subject + Adjective
그는 정말 멍청해. geuneun jeongmal meongcheong hae – He is very stupid. (He-S, stupid- A)
- 그는 – Geneun – He (notice the neun?)
- 정말 – jeongmal – very
- 멍청해 – meongcheonghae – stupid
Notice there is no verb ending here? Here’s a very important rule to know: Korean sentences must end with a verb (verb copula) or adjective. Lets try another example.
유나는 정말 예쁘다 – Yunaneun jeongmal yeppeuda – Yuna is very beautiful. (Yuna-S beautiful-A)
- 예쁘다 – yeppeuda – beautiful
4. S + O + V. Subject + Object + Verb
This is the most common pattern of all – the SOV – pattern. Remember, English is SVO, but with Korean, we usually end sentences with a verb or a verb copula. Just start thinking in the following fashion….
I water drink. I food eat. I korean learn… and you’re good to go. Here’s an example.
나는 물을 마신다 – Naneun Muleul Masinda – I drink water. (I-S, water-O, drink-V)
Let’s break the sentence down.
- 나는 – Naneun – I (See? Neun, the topic marker is back because we’re talking about me.)
- 물을 – Muleul – Water
- 마신다 – Masinda – Drink
So these are the 4 most common and basic Korean sentences you’ll hear, read and write. Once you have these structures in mind, you’ll be able to start creating your own Korean sentences… which essentially what you want to do next.
Your next assignment: Start making Korean sentences by yourself.
~ Written by The Main Junkie
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