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Have you ever wondered what the small words, 이/가, 은/는, or 을/를 in the Korean language mean? They are particles that mark a subject, topic, or object in a sentence. In this post, we will explore the subject markers, 이 and 가 in Korean.
For examples, the particle “off” from the phrasal verb “call off (cancel)” has little or no meaning by itself: A particle’s function is to express a grammatical relationship with other words or phrases. It needs to be associated with other words to bestow meaning. Korean language also has particles that serve grammatical functions in sentences. Today, we will explore how to use Korean subject markers, 이 and 가. They are attached to nouns and indicate which nouns are the subjects of the verbs, which describe an action or a state of being. You add 가 to a noun when the noun ends in a vowel, and 이 to a noun when the noun ends in a consonant.
♣ Noun ending in a Vowel + 가
갈비 (Kalbi) + 가 : a noun 갈비 ending in the vowel, “ㅣ”
커피 (coffee) + 가 : a noun 커피 ending in the vowel “ㅣ”
알렉스 (Alex) + 가 : a noun 알렉스 ending in the vowel “ㅡ”
한국어 (Korean language) + 가 : a noun 한국어 ending in the vowel “ㅓ”
♣ Noun ending in a Consonant + 이
돈 (money)+ 이 : a noun 돈 ending in the consonant, “ㄴ”
가족 (family)+이 : a noun 가족 ending in the consonant, “ㄱ”
설탕 (sugar)+ 이 : a noun 설탕 ending in the constant, “ㅇ”
서울 (Seoul)+ 이 : a noun 서울 ending in the constant, “ㄹ”
The subject markers, 이 and 가 are small words, and you will be able to communicate with native Koreans without using them. For example, Koreans would still understand your comment such as, “돈 없어요. (I don’t have money.) instead of “돈이 없어요. (I don’t have money.)” However, they will help deliver your message in a clearer way: when you read my future article on the topic markers, you would understand why. For right now, just remember the following two rules when you add 이 and 가 to the nouns:
감사합니다! (Thank you!)