LearnKoreanwith Us!

Start Learning!

Korean Language Blog

The Scientific and Phonetic Korean Script, 한글(Hangeul): Vowels #3 Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in Grammar, Korean Language, Vocabulary

This is another portion of the series about the Korean script, 한글. The following article will cover Korean vowels and their sounds, in order to help you to build fluency in Korean, especially in reading and writing.

The first post in this series covered a brief history of 한글  and how to form syllables in Korean. The second post covered the explanation of the 19 Korean consonants and their sounds. This post will cover more detailed information of the 21 Korean vowels, including three basic symbols, 10 basic vowels, 11 complex vowels, and how to decode Korean syllables.

21 Korean Vowels

Three Basic Symbols

Interestingly, the following three elements of heaven/sky, man, and earth, were used to create Korean vowels.

  • •Ÿ : this stroke is a depiction of the heaven/sky.

* When you add this stroke to a horizontal or vertical stroke, or, it looks like “- or ı ” instead of  Ÿ•Ÿ

ex) the vowel ㅏ is the combination of and Ÿ•Ÿ

ex) the vowel is the combination of and ŸŸ

  • : this stroke is a depiction of a man standing.
  • : this stroke is a depiction of earth, the flat land


10 Basic Vowels

The following is the list of 10 basic vowels and their sounds.

  • (a as in ah)
  • (ya)
  • (eo/uh)
  • (yeo)
  •   (oh)
  •   (yo)
  • ㅜ  (oo)
  •   (yoo/you)
  •   (eu)
  •  (ee)

11 Complex Vowels

The following is the list of 11 complex vowels and their sounds.

  • (a as in apple)
  • (yae)
  • (e)
  • (ye)
  • (wa)
  • (wae)
  • (oe)
  • (wo)
  • (wei)
  • (wi)
  • (eu-ee)

Now you will learn the sounds of 21 vowels. However, it is important to note that the sounds of the Korean letters do not perfectly match with English sounds. I added the closest sound values in English to help your understanding.

If you are interested in practicing each vowel and related vocabulary, please click the following link.


How to decode Korean syllables  

Do you remember the two different combinations of Korean syllables from my first post? Since you learned all the letters of Korean consonants and vowels, now you can now try to read Korean syllables by following these fundamental as follows.

  • C (consonant) + V (vowel) examples

♣   (ja)= (j) + (a)

*  means a ruler in Korean.

♣   바나나 = (b) +(a) (n) + (a) (n) + (a)

* 바나나  means a banana in Korean.

♣   = (s) + (oh)

*   means a cow in Korean.

  • C (consonant) + V (vowel) + C (consonant).

♣   (san) = (s)  + (a) +  (n)

*   means a mountain in Korean.

♣   (noon) = (n)  +  (oo)  +  (n)

*   means an eye in Korean.

♣   = (d)  +  (oh)  +  (n)

* means money in Korean.

I really hope this series of articles about the Korean script has helped you in your understanding of the Korean consonants and its sounds.

By the way, don’t forget to check out my next article on stoke orders for all of the consonants and vowels.

감사합니다! (Thank you!)

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

Share this:
Pin it

About the Author:Kyung-Hwa

안녕하세요? My name is Kyung-Hwa, and I am a native of South Korea. I am accustomed to both English and Korean languages and cultures. I greatly appreciate and love both of them. I am passionate about learning different languages, and I have studied English, Japanese, and Spanish. In my spare time, I take joy in singing, playing the piano, and reading books. I also enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, and embracing new cultures and languages...