은/는 (topic particle)

N + 은/는

Appending 은/는 to a noun denotes the topic of the sentence.
When the noun ends in a consonant, the ending 은 is used.
When the noun ends in a vowel, 는 is used.

The topic particle is used to specify what you are talking about, or in contrast to other things. This is different than in English, where in English the subject is never omitted and sometimes ‘the’ is used to be more specific.

Also notice that almost every sentence in these lessons ends with ‘요’. This word denotes a ‘polite’ ending, and is attached to the end of everything when you are talking to someone that you don’t know well. We will cover this more in a later lesson.

Examples

학생이에요 = I’m a student.

내일 일해요 = I’m working tomorrow

Particle + 은/는

Advanced usage: Using 은/는 on a particle instead of a noun emphasizes the particle and/or emphasizes the contrast between two things.

Examples

토론토에서는 엄청 추워요! – Toronto is really cold! (in comparison to other cities).

혼자 가면은 안될거같아요. – If you go alone, it wouldn’t be good. (emphasizing only if you go alone).

하진 않아요. – I haven’t decided. (emphasizing that you haven’t).