Korean Grammar for Beginners

Last Updated on September 11, 2020 by 90 Day Korean

Four multi-ethnic people learning Korean grammar

Learning Korean? If you’re studying the Korean language then you’ll need to have your Korean grammar down!

Today we’ll teach you the basics of Korean grammar so you can start forming sentences that mean exactly what you want to say.

Ready to become a grammar master? Let’s learn the basics of Korean grammar!

Four multi-ethnic people at a table celebrating - Korean grammar title image

Below, we’ll explain Korean grammar using Hangeul (Korean Alphabet) and in romanized English. You can learn the Korean Alphabet in under an hour here.

Is Korean grammar difficult?

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that Korean grammar is difficult or easy. Like many Asian languages, the grammar is quite different from English. But like the grammar of any language, Korean grammar follows rules and sentence structure that makes sense. You just need to get used to the primary quirk of its grammar. You may know that English basic grammar follows the structure:

SUBJECT (S) + VERB (V) + OBJECT (O)

For example, I (subject) study (verb) Korean (object). Most languages have a SVO grammar structure like this. The action leads the object so you know what is happening before you know what it’s happening to.

How are Korean sentences structured?

Basic Korean grammar, on the other hand, uses the order:

SUBJECT (S) + OBJECT (O) + VERB (V).

For native speakers of languages that use the SVO grammar structure, such as English, this may sound confusing and incorrect.

Korean, Japanese, and to some extent German, all use SOV in their grammar. You’ll understand why this kind of grammar makes sense when forming a Korean sentence later in the lesson. For now, here are some examples of the sentence structure of Korean to help you get acquainted with the grammar:

  • 나는 오렌지를 먹었어요 (naneun orenjireul meogeosseoyo) = I + orange + ate = I ate an orange
  • 오빠가 축구를 해요 (oppaga chukgureul haeyo) = Big brother + football + to do = My big brother plays football
  • 나는 친구를 만나요 (naneun chingureul mannayo) = I + friend + to meet = I meet my friend

To understand why the Korean language uses grammar like this, you need to understand a bit about Korean verbs and how they work.

eight people communicating with Korean words

Basic Korean Verbs

In Korean grammar, the verb needs to be conjugated based on the context. This means that Korean verbs follow certain grammar rules that control how they’re spelled.

You’ll conjugate the word depending on its tense, level of politeness and whether the connecting vocabulary ends in a vowel or consonant. However, the form does not change depending on the subject! So you don’t have to worry about the Korean particle changing (a topic for another article).

Let’s dive a bit further on this grammar point with some examples of conjugation. Note that we’ll mention Korean honorific verbs. Go here if you’re not familiar with them yet.

Conjugation –

Here are conjugation examples for the verb 이다 (ida) – to be.

  • 입니다 (imnida) = honorific verb, present tense
  • 입니까 (imnikka) = honorific question verb, present
  • 이에요 (ieyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a consonant, present
  • 예요 (yeyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel, present
  • 이었어요 (ieosseoyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a consonant, past*
  • 였어요 (yeosseoyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel, past*
  • (ya) = casual/informal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel, present
  • 이야 (iya) = casual/informal ending verb for nouns ending in a consonant, present

*Note: if you wish to use the past tense for 이다 (ida) on a casual level, use this form and simply drop the 요 (yo) from its tail

You may be thinking, “that’s quite a bit of vocabulary to remember!”

It gets easier with practice, and this grammar rule allows sentences to be more specific. Read these example sentences for 이다 (ida) to see:

    40 replies to "Korean Grammar for Beginners"

    • Avatar for Sheamhyr Sheamhyr

      hi…is there other update of new lessons from your website? i really like the lesson and i wanna go further through your site

    • Avatar for kranti kranti

      Hi ,

      Can I get any online course to study Korean language ?
      I am 13 yrs old from India
      Thank

    • Avatar for Salvia Salvia

      Your website is so helpful! 감사함니다❤️

    • Avatar for Sakshi Balasaria Sakshi Balasaria

      In words like imnida, why is the korean spelling word ㅂ used, instead of ㅁ?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Sakshi! Please remember that romanization is used to understand the pronunciation better. You should always memorize the Korean first, and romanization should only be used for reference! “입니다” is pronounced more like [임니다] in Korean, and that’s why ‘m’ is used instead of ‘b’ in romanization. ^^

      • Avatar for momooncelisablink momooncelisablink

        you need to learn batchim. Batchim rules are quite confusing because the purpose of ‘b’ sounds to ‘m’ is to make korean pronounciation easier.

    • Avatar for Bahma Bahma

      did’t finish the lesson till i studied was easy to study and so helpful 🥰🥰thank you and can i get i site for know more about that how to pronounce korean words ?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Bahma! Vocabulary is very important in learning a language! You can search ‘vocabulary’ in this blog and you’ll see a list of words in different themes! ^^

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