The Korean Alphabet:
|국||Here the letter "ㄱ" sounds like G because it is in the initial position in the syllable.|
|Between the two consonants is the vowel "ㅜ"; it is represented by a U and sounds like the oo in Pool.|
|And the "ㄱ" here in the final position sounds like a K.|
"국 Guk" is the Korean word for country. (The sound changes are recorded on the last page and are easy to follow).
Each word in Korean is broken down into syllables which are composed of 2 to 4 characters; every syllable starts with a consonant and has a vowel in it. For example: The word for Korea in Korean is "한국 Han guk"; here is a breakdown of the letters and syllables for the word "Han guk"
|한||Consonant; "ㅎ" sounds like the letter H as in hotel.|
|Vowel; "ㅏ" sounds like the letter A as in father.|
|And the "ㄴ" here in the final position sounds like an N.|
|국||Consonant; "ㄱ" sounds like the letter G in the initial position.|
|Vowel; "ㅜ" is represented by the letter U and sounds like oo as in pool.|
|Consonant; "ㄱ" same as the first letter but sounds like a K because it is in the final position in the syllable.|
Although the words are written in syllables they are pronounced in a continuous flow.
Every word in Korean starts with a consonant and has a vowel; however, the location of the vowel can change in relation to the first consonant depending on which vowel is used. For example; "ㅇ" is a consonant which is silent and has no voiced sound in the initial position and "ㅣ" is a vowel which sounds like the i in machine. Because the long axis of the vowel "ㅣ" is up and down it is placed on the right side of the consonant like this "이" so this syllable sounds like ee as in Lee, the first letter is silent and the second letter sounds like the i in machine. Other vowels like "ㅡ", which sounds like the oo in good have a long axis that runs from side to side; therefore, they are placed underneath the initial consonant like this "으" so this syllable will sound like the oo from good.
Every one of the vowels fits into either the group with the long axis up and down like "ㅏ,ㅐ,ㅑ,ㅒ,ㅓ,ㅔ,ㅕ,ㅖ andㅣ" which are placed on the right of the consonant; into the group with the long axis from left to right like "ㅗ,ㅛ,ㅜ,ㅠ and ㅡ" which are placed under the consonant; or those vowels which have both an up and down long axis and a left to right long axis in the same vowel. These vowels are combinations of 2 vowels like "ㅢ" which is a combination of "ㅡ" and "ㅣ" or "ㅟ" which is a combination of "ㅜ" and "ㅣ"; and the following "ㅘ,ㅙ,ㅚ,ㅝ,ㅞ" which go under and to the right of the consonant like this "의,위"
1. Words in Korean are formed by groups of syllables.
2. Every syllable must start with a consonant and have a vowel.
3. The following vertical vowels go along side the initial consonant like this: "아,애,야,얘,어,에,여,예,이"
4. The following horizontal vowels go under the initial consonant like this: "오,요,우,유,으"
5. These vowel combinations go to the right and under the consonant like this; "와,왜,외,워,웨,위,의"
6. There are only six patterns for the formation of syllables. C = Consonant, V = Vowel.
these are the 4 most common forms.
Those that have two different consonants in the final position like
are not that common.
7. The sounds of some consonants change depending on their position in the syllable, for example: "ㅅ" has an S sound when it is the first (initial) consonant in a syllable but changes to a T sound when it is the last (final) consonant in a syllable.
|Sounds in the initial and final positions.||
|ㄱ||G/K(1)||K||ㅏ||A||as in Father|
The following is a list of words phrases in "Hangul" that you can use to practice reading. If you practice with these words you will quickly develop an understanding of "Hangul," and your visit to Korea will be much more enjoyable as you will have a better understanding of the language, and hence the country, you are visiting.
|한국사람||Korean (person)||반갑습니다||Pleased to meet you.|
|미국사람||American (person)||오래간만입나다||Long time no see|
|언제||When||noun + 주세요||Please give me + noun.|
|어제||Yesterday||noun + 좋아합니다||I like noun.|
|나중에||Later||어떻게지냈어요||How have you been?|
|친구||Friend||어디갑니까?||Where are you going?|
|여자||Woman||들어오세요||Please come in.|
|남자||Man||앉으세요||Please sit down.|
|안녕하세요||Hi||얼마입니까?||How much is it?|
|점심식사||Lunch||당신 이름이 무엇입니까?||What's your name?|
|저녁식사||Dinner||제이름이 + name + 입니다||My name is + name.|
|좋습니다||Good||이것이 무엇입니까?||What is this?|
|나쁩니다||Bad||다시 말해주세요||Please say it again.|
|아가씨||Young lady||천천히 말해주세요||Please speak slowly.|
|아줌마||Ma'am||영어 할줄압니까?||Can you speak English?|
|아저씨||Mister, Sir||실례합니다||Excuse me!|
|미안합니다||Sorry||또봅시다||See you again.|
|식당||Restaurant||noun + 어디 있읍니까?||Where is the noun?|
|화장실||Bathroom||noun + 원합니다||I want a + noun.|
|전화||Telephone||가고 싶습니다||I want to go.|
|아니요||No||noun + 먹고 싶습니다||I want to eat + noun.|
|네||Yes||noun + 사고 싶습니다||I want to buy + noun.|
|어디||Where||저는 피곤합니다||I'm tired.|
|왜요||Why||저는 배고픕니다||I'm hungry.|
1. Korean sentence structure follows this pattern:
Subject (Subject marker) Verb, as in:
식당(이) 어디 있읍니까? (where is a restaurant?)
More complex sentences incorporate an Object and an Object marker:
Subject (subject marker)
Object (Object marker)
Verb, like this;
저(는) 한국(을) 좋아합니다 (I like Korea.)
2. The understood subject is often dropped in Korean as it is in English; so
the sentence above can become:
한국(을) 좋아합니다 ([I] like Korea), the understood subject "I" is dropped.
3. Adjectives always go in front of
Adjective Subject (Subject marker) Adjective Object (Object marker) Verb, like this:
미국 사람(은) 매운 음식(을) 좋아합니다 (which means; Americans like spicy food) 매운 = spicy.
4. Adverbs go in front of the Verb:
Adverb Verb, as in:
많이 주세요 (give me a lot).
Used with permission