Particles 불변화사

-은/는

-은/는 is a topic particle that marks the topic in the sentence in order to tell us what the sentence is about. -은 is used after the words that ends in a consonant, and -는 is used after the words that ends in a vowel. For honorific expression add -께서 before -은/는 (e.g. 어머니께서는)

Examples

벤은 강아지에요. As for Ben, (he) is a puppy.

앤은 학생이에요. As for Ann, (she) is a student.

사라는 제 친구예요. As for Sarah, (she) is my friend.

오늘은 크리스마스예요. Today is Christmas.

내일은 휴일이라서 문을 안 열어요. Tomorrow is closed because it's a holiday.

It is also used to change the topic.

Examples

어디 갔었어? 시험은 어땠어?
Where have you been? How was the exam? (Now the topic is the exam)

그 아파트 어때? 가격은 얼마야?
How’s the apartment? How much is it? (Now the topic is the price of the apartment)

이 셔츠 얼마예요? 이 넥타이는요?
How much is this shirt? How about this necktie? (Now the topic is the necktie)

When -은/는 is not in the beginning of the sentence, the sentence is used for comparing or contrasting.

For example, this sentence - 수지는 얼굴이 예뻐 - has 는 in the beginning of the sentence. The person is telling that "Susie's face is pretty." However, if -은/는 is not in the beginning of the sentence, the sentence will be like this, 수지가 얼굴은 예뻐 which means "Susie's FACE is pretty.(but that's all she's got)" The person may be talking with sarcasm or contrating with something.

Examples

연필은 있지만 볼펜은 없어. I have pencils, but I don't have pens.

그 식당은 음식이 맛있어. The restaurant’s food is delicious.
그 식당이 음식은 맛있어. (하지만 비싸) The restaurant’s FOOD is delicious. (but expensive)

To talk about the past information.

Examples

여행은 누구랑 갔어? Who did you travel with?

이 책은 어디에서 찾았어? Where did you find this book?

어제 잠은 몇 시에 잤어? What time did you go to bed yesterday?

When brining up a new topic to the conversation, -이/가 (marking the subject) is used for questioning, and -은/는 (marking the topic) is used for answering the question.

Examples

전공이 뭐예요? (major '전공' is the subject of the sentence)
What is your major?
전공은 미술이에요. (the topic is changed to a major)
(My) major is art.

생일이 언제에요? (birthday '생일' is the subject of the sentence)
When is your birthday?
생일은 9월 6일이에요. (the topic is changed to a birthday)
My birthday is September 6th.

취미가 뭐예요? (hobby '취미' is the subject of the sentence)
What is your hobby?
취미는 기타 치는 거예요. (the topic is changed to a hobby)
My hobby is playing a guitar.

-이/가

-이/가 marks the subject in the sentence. -이 comes after a noun that ends in a consonant, and -가 comes after a noun that ends in a vowel.

Examples

마크 운동을 한다. Mark does exercise.

마크(Mark) is the subject, and 운동(exercise) is the object.


지갑 없어졌다. (My) wallet is gone.

지갑(wallet) is the subject.


수잔 집에 있다. Susan is at home.

수잔(Susan) is the subject.

What's the difference between -이/가 and -은/는?

To talk about new topics, use -이/가 at first, and then use -은/는.

Examples

나비가 하늘을 날아다닙니다. 나비는 꽃에 다가갔습니다.

The butterfly is flying in the sky. It approached to a flower.

-이/가 is for general statements, while 은/는 is for comparing statements.

Examples

하늘이 파랗다. The sky is blue.

강아지가 짖는다. The puppy barks.

하늘은 파랗다. (하지만 태양은 노랗다.) The sky is blue. (But the sun is yellow)

강아지는 짖는다. (하지만 고양이는 안짖는다.) A puppy barks. But a cat doesn't.

-이/가's focus is the noun in front of the sentence, while -은/는 focuses the noun in the end.

Examples

말리가 서점에 갔어요.
Marley went to a book store. (The sentence is focused on Marley)

말리는 서점에 갔어요.
Marley went to a book store. (The sentence is focused on a book store)

Use -이/가 instead of -은/는 for endings -겠습니다 and -으ㄹ까요.

Examples

도와드리겠습니다. I will help (you).

을까요? Shall I eat (this)?

-을/를

It is usually used to mark the direct object, which refers to a noun that goes through the action indicated by the verb. When a following noun ends in a consonant, use 을. When a following noun ends in a vowel, use 를.

Examples

신문을 읽어요. (I) read the newspaper.

텔레비전을 봐요. (I) watch a television.

그는 사진을 찍어요. He takes pictures.

그녀는 매트리스를 사요. She buys a mattress.

스파게티를 먹어요. (I) eat spaghetti.

우리는 자전거를 타요. We are riding bicycles.

You can also change a noun into a verb form by simply adding -을/를 해요 to a noun.

Examples

샐리가 수영을 해요. Sally swims.

릭이 숨바꼭질을 해요. Rick plays hide-and-seek.

테리가 노래를 해요. Terry sings songs.

낸시가 말을 해요. Nancy talks.

해리가 일요일에 일해요. Harry works on Sunday.

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