[Korean Grammar] Grammar Ques. 나, 난, 날?

19 Jul

F E E D B A C K :)

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted! I’ve returned to post again (finally!) and this time I’ll be posting on basic Korean grammar and the language itself. This post may be a little too hard for those who don’t know how to read Korean, so make sure you know how to read Korean before diving into this post. I hope this post helps some of you out there :) Oh, thank you for all your nice comments!

G R A M M A R   F A Q

Ques. What is the difference between 나 and 난? And also 너, 넌 and 널?

To explain this we have to go right into the basics of Korean. To start off with, Korean is a SOV form language (compared with English, which is SVO form language). SOV basically means subject-object-verb. Here is an example.

ex) 고양이는    생선을    먹는다.
         The cat      a fish        eat    (I added the articles ‘the’ and ‘a’ for convenience)
        Subject      Object    Verb

It may sound weird but that’s the basic grammatical structure of a typical Korean sentence. Now compare it with English…

ex) The cat     eats     a fish.
       Subject    Verb    Object

Now you get it, right? For Korean, the object follows the subject and then the verb. Here are some more  examples.

ex1)       독고진은        구애정을        좋아한다. 
              Dok Go-jin     Koo Ae-jung      Likes
                 Subject            Object               Verb
       Translation: Dok Go-jin likes Koo Ae-jung.

ex2)          박봄은      옥수수를      먹는다.
               Park Bom       Corn             Eats
            Subject          Object         Verb
             Translation: Park Bom eats corn.

Pretty simple, huh? But then you think, how do you know what the subject is and what the object is in a Korean sentenceIf we write ‘the cat’, ‘a fish’ in that order, although it’s unlikely, couldn’t it mean the other way around? To explain this, my next explanation is about particles!

If you noticed in each sentence,  there was a 은/는 at the end of the subject and for the object there was always a 을/를 behind it.

고양이     독고진       박봄

생선     구애정      옥수수

은/는, 을/를 are some examples of particles. There are also some other particles like 이, 가, 도, 만, 까지 etc. In Korean grammar there a lot of particles. But if I were to explain all of them, it’d take more than one post (which would be much too long!) so I’m just going to explain some of the more basic ones briefly. And as you can see in the examples above, particles are always positioned at the end.

Particles 은/는, 이/가 are located at the end of the word that indicates the subject of the sentence. Particles 을/를 are located at the end of the word that indicates the object of the sentence. Simple, isn’t it?

But what is the difference between 은 and 는, 이 and 가, 을 and 를 you ask? It depends on whether the last letter behind the particle has a consonant at the end or not. If there is a consonant present we use 은, 을, 이 but if there isn’t a consonant we use 는, 를 and 가. You’re thinking what does that mean, right? What’s a consonant? It’s actually really simple. Look at the examples below.

1. 은/는  (indicates the subject of a sentence*)
ex1) 고양이는    
The last letter behind the particle ‘는’  is  ‘이’. 이 does not contain a consonant at the end. It contains a vowel “ㅣ” but this isn’t important thing here. The thing is that there isn’t a consonant at the end and that’s all we need to know. Therefore we use 는. If you don’t know what I’m saying look at the next example.

ex2) 독고진
The last letter behind the particle ‘은’  is  ‘진’. 진 contains a consonant “ㄴ” at the end. Therefore we use 은.

Are you getting the hang of it? It’s not as hard as it seems. Just check to see if there is a consonant at the end or not. If there is, use the ones that have ‘ㅇ’ (은, 을, 이)  and if there isn’t, use the ones that don’t have ‘ㅇ’ (는, 를, 가). AND REMEMBER! This applies to the particles 은/는, 이/가, 을/를 not to the whole Korean language. The topic is about choosing the right particle!

But why this difference you ask? It’s because it’s hard to pronounce if it’s the other way around. Either the sound clashes way too much or it sounds way too gappy. So.. 

고양이  (WRONG)  — sound way too gappy   –> 고양이  (RIGHT)

독고진  (WRONG) — clashes way too much  –>  독고진  (RIGHT)

This applies to the other particles 이/가, 을/를 as well.

2. 이/가 (indicates the subject of the sentence)
달팽이
The last letter behind the particle ‘가’  is  ‘이’. 이 doesn’t have a consonant at the end. Therefore we use, 가.


The last letter behind the particle ‘이’  is  ‘곰’. 곰 has the consonant “ㅁ” at the end. Therefore we use, 이.

3. 을/를 (indicates the object of a sentence)
옥수수
The last letter behind the particle ‘를’  is  ‘수’. 수 doesn’t have a consonant at the end. Therefore we use, 를.

구애정
The last letter behind the particle ‘을’  is  ‘정’. 정 has the consonant “ㅇ” at the end. Therefore we use, 을.     

“ㅇ” is a special consonant in that it likes to take up the sound of the consonant before it. This is is why ‘은, 을, 이’ are used with words that have a consonant before it. “ㅇ” doesn’t clash as much.

* In the case of 은/는 there are some other grammatical usages, which I won’t go in depth in this post. If I ever do go in depth, it’ll be in another post.

If you want to practice, here are a few exercises. Try them out. Answers are at the bottom.

@ Choose the correct particle between 은/는.
a. 영희
b. 소문
c. 생선
d. 컴퓨터
e. 볶음밥
f. 이

@ Choose the correct particle between 이/가.
a. 젤리
b. 식당
c. 초밥
d. 코코아
e. 병원
f. 치즈

@ Choose the correct particle between 을/를.
a. 토끼
b. 사슴
c. 호랑이
d. 곰
e. 개
f. 팽귄

ANSWERS (Highlight to view): 는/은/은/는/은/는//가/이/이/가/이/가//를/을/를/을/를/을

Okay, so back to the topic. We finally answer the question: What is the difference between 나 and 난? And also 너, 넌 and 널?

Because it’s difficult to understand the answer to this question without knowing the stuff I mentioned beforehand, my explanantion got a little long. Please bear with me.

나 VS 난?

나 pronounced na means ‘I’ or ‘me’

.. but what does it mean when we say 난?

난(nan) is simply the shortened form of 나는(naneun). 나는 is 나+는.
나 is I or me and 는 is a particle indicating the subject of the sentence.

나 itself means ‘I’ or ‘me’ but depending on the particle following it, it can either be a subject or an object in a sentence. Say for example,

치즈를 싫어해.    naneun chizeureul shireohae
I don’t like cheese. (“I” here is the subject)

강아지는 나 좋아해.    gangajineun nareul joahe
The puppy likes me. (“me” here is the object)

.. and 나는 and 너를 in these sentences can be shortened to 난 and 날.

 치즈를 싫어해.    naneun chizeureul shireohae
I don’t like cheese. (“I” here is the subject)

강아지는  좋아해.    gangajineun nareul joahe
The puppy likes me. (“me” here is the object)

It’s just that simple. The same goes for 너, 넌 and 널.

너 pronounced neo means ‘you’

너는 neoneun = 넌  neon           used as a SUBJECT in a sentence
너를 neoreul = 널 neol            used as an OBJECT in a sentence

 

Not very hard, is it? Well then that’s it for this post!
I’ll be back with another grammar question next time. Hope you enjoyed it! Cheers!

12 Responses to “[Korean Grammar] Grammar Ques. 나, 난, 날?”

  1. seaweedbap July 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Thx for all your detailed explanation about the Korean grammar
    I really appreciated and learn at lot. But there’s some contradiction of what you explain when to use the particale with ‘o’ here.
    Here is your wording.

    If there isn’t a consonant present we use 은, 을, 이 but if there is a consonant we use 는, 를 and 가.
    Just check to see if there is a consonant at the end or not. If there is, use the ones that have ‘ㅇ’ (은, 을, 이)  
    and if there isn’t, use the ones that don’t have ‘ㅇ’ (는, 를, 가).

    I believe the last sentence is true? Thx.

    • tangereeny July 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

      Whoops! My mistake! I’ll fix that. Thanks : )

      edit: The last sentence is true. It’s the explanation I wrote before that, that didn’t make sense.

  2. maggie August 10, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Thank you for another lovely post! I really like the way you explain things – makes it so much simpler.
    Looking forward to more!!! ^^

    • tangereeny August 10, 2011 at 5:07 am #

      Thank you Maggie for your comments!🙂
      I appreciate it a lot and I’m glad you found the post helpful ^____^

  3. mey November 3, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    You said that 은/는, 이/가 are subject’s particles
    i can differentiate between 은 and 는
    I also know the use of 이 and 가

    the question is, when we use 가 and when we use 는 ?
    if the word is ended with a vowel, how can we know that we should use 가 or 는

    • tangereeny July 19, 2012 at 3:02 am #

      Interesting comment. I should do another post about that shortly.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Manda November 30, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Awesome awesome explanations!! I am so glad i came across this site. Especially like the lyric translation stuff too!!

  5. Shing April 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi
    Do you happen to be a language teacher? Because of the way you teach and explain the Korean language. I also happen to come into this blog when searching for the full verse of 김함한무. I was really impressed by how serious and sincere you were in teaching the language to people whom you don’t even know.
    I will try to come into this blog and explore more within the blog when I managw to steal time from my work and housework.
    Keep up your good work. You have done a great job and your English is good.

    • Charl July 19, 2012 at 2:53 am #

      No, I am not a language teacher but I’m very keen on learning languages. I love linguistics and it’s always been part of my life though my major is not actually linguistics at all! Thanks for coming by!

  6. Tenshi August 12, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Thanks a great way to explain things. Thank you!!!

  7. taryon February 8, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    thanks so much for this post

    i have a request, can you please translate some kpop songs, because i find it a great way to memorize Korean vocabulary
    and please translate this song

  8. dedesya April 5, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    i’ve found this post just now since i just found out the difference between 를 and 는 but tthere’s something that confuse me. if you know a-pink’s song that is titled 난 니가 필요해 which means i need you, nah the confused thing is the ‘니가’ word here. you say on your post 니가 is for subject right? but why is this for object? thanks. afterall thank you for the post it’s really useful

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