So this week we're going to learn some basic Korean grammar and very basic sentence structure! If you don't know Hangul yet or need to brush up on your skills I recommend revisiting my Hangul language lessons before visiting this page. Check them out by clicking here.
If you're ready, let's go!
SVO vs. SOV.
In English when we speak we speak SVO [Subject-Verb-Object]. So our subject is always followed by a verb which is followed by an object. For example: Sue loves cake. Sue is our subject. The verb is "to love" which has been conjugated based on our first person subject and the object is cake.
In Korean this is switched around to SOV. So a Korean sentence would sound more like Sue cake love. Also Korean verbs do not conjugate based on the subject of the sentence. The subject can be third or first person and the verb will not change!
Informal vs. Formal
What I really admire about the Korean culture is in some ways it's very similar to Southern Black culture. It's all about hospitality and respect. Respect for oneself, respect for each other and especially respect your elders. This idea of respect is intertwined in the Korean language. There is a casual way to address another which is called informal and then there's a respectful way which is formal.
Informal should only be used with people younger than you or close friends.
Formal should always be used for strangers and people older than you. To differentiate between the two we use different noun endings.
There are two formal endings
-해요 [sounds like hey-yo]
This is used in everyday conversation. It is common to only see -요 added to the end of a word to make it more formal.
-합니다 [sounds like ham-knee-dah]
This is super formal. It is common to see -니다 or 다 added to the end of a word.
I am (something) or Noun = Noun
Okay so to say "I" in Korean you simply say 저 which sounds like "joe". Simple, right?
"Am" is a little more complicated. The last letter of the noun determines which verb ending we use. This is because it is easier to pronounce.
So if the noun ends in a consonant we would use: 이에요 [sounds like eee a yoh].
Quick tip: 이에요 = is / a / are / be / am. There are no articles like "a" or "the" in Korean. The basic form is 이다 [sounds like eee dah]. This means "do".Now if the noun ends in a vowel we would use: 예요 [sounds like yay-yo]
In super formal situations we would use입니다 [pronounced eem-knee-dah] instead if the noun ends in a consonant.... I know it looks like it should be pronounced with a b or p but it's actually pronounced like a "M' in this situation.
Now if the word ends in a vowel it ends inㅂ니다. This is when it's pronounced like it looks [bip-knee-dah].
Okay, now that we got all that stuff out the way let's form our first sentence!
For the purpose of this demonstration let's let our first sentence be:
I am Dianna.
Now you would think that to say I am Dianna... you would just write
저예요 디안나 (Literally, I am Dianna)
But this is incorrect, remember when I said Koreans use SOV not SVO. So instead we would say.
저는 디안나 예요.You may have noticed 는 beside 저 in our new sentence.는 [sounds like noon] is a subject marker and let's us know that "I" is the subject of this sentence. This ending is added when the subject ends with a vowel. If the subject ends in a consonant you would use 은 instead [sounds like euhhn].
So, how would we say this in super formal? Stay tuned for our next lesson. I recommend that you subscribe to our newsletter on the right so that you're the first to know as soon as it's out!
사랑해! [Love ya]