Korean Sentence Structure With Our Korean Kickstarter

Ninja kicking to illustrate the idea of kickstarting your Korean skills with 4 simple sentences

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Learning Korean sentence structure is quick and easy. It is one of the best ways to start learning the language and having conversations right away.

Did you know that you can make over 30 sentences in just a few minutes? The tool we use is called the Korean Kickstarter.

We’ll show you the easy way to do it so you can start communicating in Korean today!

Ninja kicking to illustrate the idea of kickstarting your Korean skills with 4 simple sentences

What is the Korean Kickstarter?

The Korean Kickstarter is an 80/20 tool to kick-start your Korean sentence building. The term “80/20” means covering the 20% of the material that will give you 80% of the results.

We’ll cover the basics of Korean sentence structure, plus give you a few verb endings to get you up and running. In Korean, by simply altering the endings you attach to your verbs, you can easily make many different kinds of sentences.

Learning these different sentence endings is a quick way to advance your Korean. Here’s a free PDF version of this guide:

These tips use Hangul, the Korean alphabet. We also write them out for you in romanized English, so no worries if you can’t read Hangul yet.

If you haven’t learned to read the Hangul yet it should definitely be on your shortlist if you’re serious about learning the Korean language. It’s super easy and you can learn it for free from us!

Essential Korean Verbs for Making Korean Sentences

To make a basic sentence in Korean, all we need is a verb. That’s because the “I” part of a sentence is understood, which is a bit different than an English sentence. We can either explicitly say it (like in the “cat” example above), or we can leave it out.

To get a hang of completing a sentence, let’s memorize a few common verbs:

한국어 (Korean)English
To do
To go
To come
To see
To eat
To sleep
To read
To write

Just note these verbs for now, you don’t need to memorize them just yet. We’ll be using them in this lesson.

However, if you’re feeling motivated, we have an easy method for memorizing Korean vocabulary.

How to Form Basic Korean Sentences

The easiest way to make sentences in Korean is by conjugating Korean verbs. Once you can conjugate a verb, you have a sentence!

Here’s what you need to know about conjugation.

Verb Conjugation (Dress Up)

If you’re not familiar with the term “conjugation”, it simply means “dressing up” a verb in a different ending. Imagine a different set of clothing for different situations.

For example, you might dress up some verbs to represent past tense, some present tense, and some to talk about the future.

You might also dress them up according to formality. Sometimes fancy, sometimes casual, sometimes seasonal. Same verb, different look, depending on the situation!

Example Korean Sentence Set #1 – 자다 (jada)

For our first example, we can use the verb 자다 (jada | to sleep) to express ourselves using four basic Korean sentences. You’ll find the verb root (자 | ja) in each of them. The (자 | ja) is bolded so you can see it more easily.

한국어 (Korean)RomanizationEnglish
야 해요jaya haeyoI must sleep
고 싶어요jago sipeoyoI want to sleep
 거예요jal geoyeyoI will sleep
 수 없어요jal su eopseoyoI can't sleep

Example Korean Sentence Set #2 – 가다 (gada)

Now, let’s compare these four sentences to the following which use the verb 가다 (gada | to go):

한국어 (Korean)RomanizationEnglish
야 해요gaya haeyoI must go
고 싶어요gago sipeoyoI want to go
 거예요gal geoyeyoI will go
 수 없어요gal su eopseoyoI can't go

The verb root (가 | ga) is found in the same place as the sentences using 자다 (jada | to sleep).

By memorizing these few conjugations, we can plug in different verbs as we learn them and express ourselves using basic sentences.

The One-Page Korean Kickstarter

See the chart below for all of the different Korean sentences you can create. You can also download a PDF version of the chart here.

English sentence and Korean sentence chart called the One-Page Korean Kickstarter

How to Make 32 Korean Sentences Easily

The main thing that is happening here is the –다 ending of the verb has just been dropped, leaving the verb stem. Then, the new ending is applied to the stem.

Sometimes there is a slight change to the verb stem, but it’s fairly minor. The main takeaway is that if you can follow the chart above, you’ll have a lot to say in only a few minutes. Korean holds true to these patterns most of the time, so recognizing them is the key to learning Korean fast! 

Korean Sentence Structure

To start, we need to first be familiar with how the sentence structure is set up. In an English sentence, the structure is usually Subject, Verb, Object (SVO). For example, in the phrase:

I see the cat

Subject  Verb  Object

However, in Korean, the sentence follows the structure of Subject, Object, Verb (SOV). This is the same structure you see in Japanese, and to some extent German. For example, the above phrase in Korean is:

고양이 봐요

Subject Object – Verb

저는 고양이를 봐요 (jeoneun goyangireul bwayo) would literally translate to “I the cat see,” and it’s important to know that verbs (and adjectives) almost always come at the end of a sentence. More on that later.

Basic Korean Sentence Structures

Now that you know how to dress up (conjugate) verbs, let’s mix up it up with some different types of basic Korean sentence structures.

Subject – Verb

Since you already know how to conjugate the verbs, let’s put a subject in front of the verb for some extra sentence structure variety. Let’s say that you want to sleep.

나는 자고 싶어요

(naneun jago sipeoyo)

SubjectVerb

(I want to sleep)

Subject – Adjective

This Korean sentence structure is like the one above, except you’re going to swap out the verb with an adjective. Let’s stick with the same sleep theme, and talk about you being tired.

나는 피곤해요

(naneun pigohaeyo)

SubjectAdjective

(I am tired)

Subject – Object – Verb

The next Korean sentence structure is just like the first one, except you’re going to toss in an object to spice things up.

나는 피자 먹어요

(naneun pija meogeoyo)

Subject Object Verb

(I eat pizza)

Korean Markers (Particles)

In addition to Korean grammar and conjugations, you should also be aware of markers, or particles, in Korean.

In this section, we’ll cover Korean markers (particles). We don’t use them in English, so they may be new to you.

You don’t need to know them in-depth, but it’s good to have a basic understanding since they’re a common part of Korean sentence structures. Start out by learning what they are and be able to recognize them.

Once you get the hang of basic structures, then you can start to add them into your sentences. Keep in mind that Koreans often omit the markers from sentences, but you will likely read them in written form.

Topic Marker Particles

A topic marker helps to indicate the subject of a sentence. For example, let’s look at this Korean sentence structure:

subject – object – verb

저는 고양이를 봐요

(jeoneun goyangireul bwayo)

I see the cat

This sentence has the particles ‘는’ (neun) after the word for ‘I’ (저 | jeo) and ‘를’ (reul) after the word for ‘cat’ (고양이 | goyangi).

The 는 (neun) and 은 (eun) are the particles used to indicate the topic of the sentence. The topic is like the subject of a sentence, but with some subtle differences. You can think of them as being similar, except the subject markers have some additional meaning built into them. We’ll compare the two in a minute, but first, let’s make sure you’re clear on the basic use of the topic marker. 

The 는 is used when the prior syllable ends in a vowel, and 은 is used when it ends in a consonant. For example:

개를 봤어요. →  I saw a dog.

 naneun gaereul bwasseoyo

잭슨 개를 봤어요. →  Jackson saw a dog.

 jaekseuneun gaereul bwasseoyo.

In the above example, 는 (naneun | I) ends in the vowel ㅏ so it uses the particle 는. The name 잭슨 (jaekseun | Jackson) ends in ㄴ and therefore uses the particle 은.

If you’re wondering about the difference of and for ‘I,’ is the polite form and is more casual. When you’re first learning Korean, stick with the 저 form. Then as your skills improve, you can distinguish when to use 나 vs 저. 

Subject Marker Particles

이/가 (i/ga) are also used for the subject of the sentence. These are common but tricky parts of Korean sentence structure. They’re similar to topic markers. 

The 가 (ga) is used when the prior syllable ends in a vowel, and 이 (i)  is used when it ends in a consonant. For example:

개를 봤어요. → It’s me who saw a dog.

 naega gaereul bwasseoyo

잭슨 개를 봤어요. → It’s Jackson who saw a dog.

 jaekseuni gaereul bwasseoyo.

Topic vs. Subject Marker Particles

You can think of subject markers as being similar to topic markers. You should learn both to understand Korean sentence structure. 

The difference is the emphasis that the particle places on the sentence. The topic marker  (는/은 | neun/eun) puts the emphasis on the verb while the subject marker (이/가| i/ga) places emphasis on the subject.

Topic marker emphasis –> verb

Subject marker emphasis –> subject

For example, in these sentences:

개를 봤어요. → I saw a dog.

 naneun gaereul bwasseoyo

In this sentence, we’re putting emphasis on the fact that you saw a dog. What happened? I saw a dog!

Therefore, we’re going to use the subject marker.

개를 봤어요. → It’s me who saw a dog.

 naega gaereul bwasseoyo

In this sentence, the emphasis would be on me. Who saw the dog? I saw the dog!

So since I’m the topic, we’ll use the topic marker.

잭슨 개를 봤어요. → Jackson saw a dog.

 jaekseuneun gaereul bwasseoyo.

In this sentence, we’ll emphasize that Jackson saw the dog. He spotted it!

잭슨 개를 봤어요. → It’s Jackson who saw a dog.

 jaekseuni gaereul bwasseoyo.

The topic, in this case, is Jackson. Who saw the dog? Jackson did!

In the above sentences, you can see with the italics that the emphasis of the sentence changes depending on the particle that’s used. You’ll get the hang of this Korean sentence structure better as you get more experienced with learning Korean.

Quite often the subject and topic markers will be dropped altogether. Koreans mainly use the markers for emphasis.

Don’t worry too much about the differences between the subject and the topic markers. You can learn them later. For now, it’s best to just know that they exist and focus on understanding the basics of Korean sentence structure.

Object Marker Particles

We also have object markers, which are important parts of Korean sentence structure. The markers (particles) 를 (reul) and 을 (eul) are used to indicate the object of a sentence. Like above, 를 is used when the prior syllable ends in a vowel. The 을 is used when it ends in a consonant.

나는 국수 먹었어요. → I ate noodle.

naneun guksureul meogeosseoyo.

나는 밥 먹었어요. → I ate rice.

naneun babeul meogeosseoyo.

There are more particles used in Korean sentence structure, but we’ll get more into particles in another post.

Add More to Basic Korean Sentence Structure

We hope this guide helps with basic Korean sentence structure and phrases. Keep the momentum going. As you progress, add more sentences and more elements to practice and learn.

Use this Korean sentence structure guide to kick-start your Korean language learning journey and adjust on the fly. These are the building blocks that will help you get started as quickly as possible to express more complex ideas. We can only give you the tools though, it’s up to you to practice using them! 

Building Blocks for Learning Korean

There you have it — an easy method for how to learn Korean quickly!

Do you think it’s easier to make an English sentence or a Korean sentence? Let us know in the comments below!

    32 replies to "Korean Sentence Structure With Our Korean Kickstarter"

    • Lutrinae

      Hello 🙂

      I don’t understand 나는 피자 먹어요. It says that it means “I want to eat pizza”, but it the table, “I want to eat” is 먹고 싶어요.

      Shouldn’t it be 나는 피자 먹고 싶어요 then?

      Can you explain?

      Thank you!

      • 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for the correction, Lutrinae! You’re right! 나는 피자 먹어요 should be translated as “I eat pizza”, and 나는 피자 먹고 싶어요 as “I want to eat pizza.” We’ll make the corrections. ^^

        • Lutrinae

          Thank you!

          And thanks for your explanation about the topic/subject markers, I always have issues with that and by saying that one emphasize the verb and the other the noun makes it super clear.

    • Yuniar Saraswati

      i’m from Indonesia, for me it is easier to make English sentences than Korean..
      And after learn how to make Korean sentence here, I got more interesting to learn Korean.. thank you..

    • leocelyn

      Hard but fun.

    • Analisa Guadalupe

      This is nice. Learning is fun. Thank you. God bless.

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