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).

에,에서 (location, time)

location/time + 에/에서

에 is a particle used to mark location, time or other static situations.
에서 is used to mark locations where some action is happening.
에 roughly corresponds to ‘at,to,in,of,by’, and it usually attached to the location or situation it is marking.
에서 is used the same way, except an action or event is happening there.

Examples

가요 = I am going to my home.

에서 먹어요 = I eat at home.

몇시 가요? = What time are you going?

한국에서 살아요. = I live in Korea.

이/가 (subject particle)

N + 이/가

Appending 이/가 to a noun denotes the subject of the sentence.
When the noun ends in a consonant, the ending 이 is used.
When the noun ends in a vowel, 가 is used.

The subject particle is used to indicate the subject of the sentence. This is a more general usage than the topic particle (which is used more specifically), and is often omitted when talking when the subject is obvious. That is why in Korean, you don’t need to say ‘I/me’ or re-iterate the subject all the time, unless its not obvious.

Examples

좋아요? = What is good?

오늘은 날씨 좋네요. = I’m working tomorrow.

시간 없어요. = I don’t have any time.