Korean Sentence Structure: How you you make a sentence in Korean?

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Korean. I am currently learning the language, and this is an entry to express and share what I have learned with others wanting to learn as well. If I have made a mistake, please feel free to comment below to correct me. πŸ™‚


 

One challenge with learning any language is understanding and using a different sentence structure while reading, writing, and especially speaking.

Depending on the country you are from, you were probably persuaded to learn a specific foreign language based on a country near you or the languages you were exposed to while growing up. Personally, I am from the southern part of the United States. In my state, the most prominent foreign language other than English, and the one I heard most often, was Spanish. Therefore, because of the location and small size of my school, we had no choice but to learn Spanish as a foreign language. I remember the hardest part of learning Spanish, apart from the verb conjugations, was the small change in sentence structure; remembering that an adjective came after a noun or object (eg. “the car green” instead of “the green car”). Luckily, the main Spanish sentence structure wasn’t too different from English; it was still Subject + Verb + Object (SVO).

On the other hand, Korean has a sentence structure that switches two of these main Subject, Object, and Verb components, which might make is a bit more confusing than English vs. Spanish for some learners. BUT I am here to hopefully help the differences make a little more sense. I am hoping that this explanation will be easy to understand and help kickstart your Korean learning journey. At the end of this lesson, you should be able to begin understanding the Korean sentences you see or hear. Overall, the structure is a simple change, but it takes practice to remember and use it.

What will be covered in this lesson:

  • English vs. Korean Sentence Structure
  • Simple Vocabulary
  • Examples
  • Simple Practice Tips

 

English vs. Korean Sentence Structure:

As English speakers, we are used to the sentence structure Subject + Verb + Object (eg. “The man sits on the chair.”) Korean, on the other hand, completely switches two of these structures. Instead ofΒ SVO, Korean uses the sentence structure Subject + Object + Verb (eg. “The man on the chair sits.”) It’s a bit confusing and difficult to switch the two when making new sentences, but with practice the transition gets a bit easier. It’s especially easier once you begin memorizing phrases to use during a conversation and hear more of the spoken language through in-person encounters, music, and movies/TV shows.

Let’s look at an example of the two structures side-by-side:

English Sentence Structure: Subject + Verb + Object
"The man sits on the chair."

Korean Sentence Structure: Subject + Object + Verb
"The man on the chair sits."
λ‚¨μžκ°€ μ˜μžμ— μ•‰μŠ΅λ‹ˆλ‹€. 

As you can see above, the red text represents the subject of the sentence, the green text represents the object of the sentence, and the purple represents the action/verb of the sentence. If you do not yet know the Korean alphabet (Hangeul) click here to visit my Learn Hangeul series to get started reading Korean.

We’ll look at more example sentences soon, but first, let’s take a look at some vocabulary that we can use to form super simple sentences that will help us get more used to the Korean sentence structure.

Vocabulary:

Nouns/Objects:

English Korean
man λ‚¨μž
woman μ—¬μž
boy μ†Œλ…„ / λ‚¨μžμ•„μ΄
girl μ†Œλ…€ / μ—¬μžμ•„μ΄
Korean (language) ν•œκ΅­μ–΄
English (language) μ˜μ–΄
cat 고양이
dog 개
game κ²Œμž„
fried chicken μΉ˜ν‚¨

 

Verbs: (in dictionary form)

English Korean
to do ν•˜λ‹€
to eat λ¨Ήλ‹€
to like μ’‹μ•„ν•˜λ‹€
to dislike μ‹«λ‹€
to drink λ§ˆμ‹œλ‹€
to play 놀닀
to laugh 웃닀
to cry μšΈλ‹€
to love
μ‚¬λž‘ν•˜λ‹€
to think μƒκ°ν•˜λ‹€

Example Sentences:

Here are a few example sentences using some of the vocabulary above. Don’t get too caught up in understanding the grammar just yet. For now, just try to understand which words are Subjects, Objects, and Verbs, and observe how each of them are used in each sentence to help familiarize yourself with the sentence structure.

Can you match the nouns/objects and verbs to the Korean sentence structure? (Remember:Β the Korean sentence structure is S+O+V, not S+V+O)

The woman laughs. --> μ—¬μžκ°€ μ›ƒμ–΄μš”.
The man loves the woman. --> λ‚¨μžλŠ” μ—¬μžλ₯Ό μ‚¬λž‘ν•΄μš”.
The cat plays. --> κ³ μ–‘μ΄λŠ” λ†€μ•„μš”.
The dog eats fried chicken. --> κ°œλŠ” μΉ˜ν‚¨μ„ λ¨ΉμŠ΅λ‹ˆλ‹€.
The girl plays games. --> μ†Œλ…€λŠ” κ²Œμž„μ„ ν•΄μš”.
The boy learns English. --> μ†Œλ…„μ€ μ˜μ–΄λ₯Ό λ°°μš°ν•΄μš”.

 

Practice Tips:

  1. Write the english and Korean version of each of the sentences above 5 times.
  2. Say each sentence aloud at least 5 times.
  3. Try creating your own sentences by mixing and matching the vocabulary above or new vocabulary words you have found.
  4. Make sure to say all of the words and sentences aloud to help pronunciation and understanding word patterns subconsciously.
  5. Record yourself, listen to it, and compare it to native speakers or a translation software such asΒ Google Translate.
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