Korean Grammar for Beginners

Last Updated on May 11, 2021 by 90 Day Korean

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!

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Here is a free PDF guide that you can download and take with you:

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

Korean Nouns

In any language, the first basic part of speech we all learn is the noun. We start building our vocabulary and knowledge of the language with nouns. Once we know them, we can easily build phrases or simple sentences.

Korean nouns are called 명사. They are made plural by adding 들 after the noun. However, some nouns like in the English language, don’t need 들 for them to be made plural as they’re already understood as plural nouns.

To know more about Korean nouns, we have lessons on Body Parts in Korean, Animals in Korean, Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables in Korean, Fish in Korean, and Jobs in Korean to help you get started.

Korean Pronouns

Korean pronouns are a very important part of Korean grammar, especially in daily conversations. It’s also important to know that, unlike the English pronouns, Korean pronouns can vary in terms of formality. If you are speaking to someone of a higher position or social status, you should use Korean pronouns that are formal. It would be offensive to Koreans if you use Korean pronouns that are not appropriate to the relationship or the social status between you and the person you’re talking to or talking about.

Here is a resource that will help you learn about the basic Korean pronouns.

Korean Particles

Korean particles are also another important part of Korean grammar. Without Korean particles, Korean sentences wouldn’t be complete. In general, Korean particles can have many functions but can be summarized as subject/object markers and indicators.

If you plan to be fluent in Korean, you’ll need to learn and understand how to properly use Korean particles. Here’s a resource for you to learn the most commonly used Korean particles.

Get “Korean Grammar” Free PDF Guide

Korean adjectives

Korean adjectives make story-telling and daily conversations easier and more fun. They help us describe and give a clear picture of nouns. Korean adjectives usually take the 하다. But it’s important to note that not all words ending with 하다 are adjectives.

When describing nouns with Korean adjectives, they usually take the Korean adjective + Korean noun form. This is similar to how we describe nouns in English.

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.

three people studying korean grammar

Korean grammar takes some getting used to, but with enough study and practice, you’ll be a grammar master in no time!

    • Korean Conjugation

    • One of the basic Korean grammar rules you need to learn is conjugation. In Korean grammar, there are 2 things you can conjugate. These are verbs and adjectives.Korean conjugations determine the meaning, tense, tone, and mood of sentences. It’s important to learn conjugation as you progress in learning Korean.Below is a list of the common conjugations of verbs according to their tenses.
      • Verb + ㅂ니다/습니다 (ㅂ nida/seumnida) = honorific verb, present
      • Verb + 아요/어요 (ayo/eoyo) = polite/formal verb, present
      • Verb + 야/이야 (ya/iya) = casual/informal verb, present
      • Verb + 았어요/었어요 (asseoyo/eosseoyo) = polite/formal verb, past
      • Verb + 았어/었어 (asseo/eosseo) = casual/informal verb, past
      • Verb + 겠어요 (gesseoyo) = polite/formal verb, future
      • Verb + ㄹ/을 거예요 (ㄹ/eul geoyeyo) = polite/formal verb, future
      • Verb + 겠어 (gesseo) = casual/informal verb, future
      • Verb + ㄹ/을 거야 (ㄹ /eul geoya) = casual/informal verb, future

      One plus about Korean verbs is that they generally stick to their conjugation rules, which makes it easier to know the correct grammar structure to follow in a given situation. This helps with deciding what to include in your grammar and vocabulary studies.

      Check out this article for a detailed explanation of Korean Conjugations.

      Korean Negative Verb Form

      Turning sentences into negatives was already mentioned when we introduced you to 없다 (eopda). Let’s briefly go over some other negative verb forms in Korean grammar.

      By adding 안 (an) in front of the verb, excluding 있다 (itda), you are creating a negative. For example:

      By adding ~지 않다 (~ji anta) to the verb stem, you are also creating a negative. Like this:

      *Note: This is not typically the most natural way to express it, although it is grammatically correct.

      These two grammar forms are identical in their meaning. With practice, you’ll learn which situations 안 (an) and ~지 않다 (~ ji anta)sound most natural for.

      One note before you finish is their use with the verb 하다. With , you will add the negative right in front of 하다, breaking it into an object + verb, like this:

      With ~지 않다 (~ ji anta) you will keep the it intact and instead add the negative at the end, like this:

      Again, both grammar forms are correct so practice to get a feel for what sounds most natural for you!


      Congratulations! You have now learned the basics of Korean grammar. It's not that hard to learn Korean after all. This is an essential first step in learning Korean and we've got lots more great Korean lessons to help you learn Korean. You might be interested in these topics as well:

      1. Get a plan for learning Korean here
      2. If you're thinking of living, traveling, or moving to Korea, go here
      3. Head over here if you are interested in K-Pop, K-Dramas, or Korean movies
      4. Check out this page for lots of useful Korean phrases
      5. Get some of the most common Korean words here
      6. Go here to learn about Korean culture

      Stick with us and we'll make Korean language learning fun and easy!

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      How will you use your new Korean grammar knowledge?

       

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    82 replies to "Korean Grammar for Beginners"

    • Avatar for ARMY ARMY

      Hi! Could you write an article about preposition in Korean? Would be really helpful!

    • Avatar for Dewmini Dewmini

      I want to know exactly when two people use the words you and me while talking ? For example 넌 좋은 친구 야 👈 Is this correct ?

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