Level 1 Lesson 9 / topic,subject marking particles / 은, 는, 이, 가

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This lesson will introduce the topic marking particles and the subject marking particles in the Korean language. The topic marking particles and the subject marking particles play a very important role in Korean so it’s very important that you learn them well. But even some advanced-level speakers of the language can make mistakes regarding these particles, so please don’t worry even if you don’t get them right away. You will eventually be able to use them naturally after some practice. Today’s lesson is our first introduction to the particles. Make sure you read the PDF file as well. Thank you! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment!

You can download a free PDF for this lesson here, or if you want to study with our TalkToMeInKorean textbooks, you can get them here.

  • Ben

    Haha, “I’m not tired, don’t lie!”

  • Alyssa

    (i dont know how to change my keys to korean on my laptop) A question regarding the topic marking particle ‘neun’. in the e-/book there’s an example where the particle neun is placed next to the ‘this'(i-geo).. I’m wondering, will it still have the same meaning if ‘neun’ is placed next to ‘apple’ (‘sa-gwa’)?? Or will that be just grammatically incorrect if it were the case?

    • Evee

      You’ll probably have to download the Keyboard on you laptop in you have a windows you can find it on their site as for Linux and Mac IDK

  • Liliya Voloshenyuk

    So, after I listened to this lesson I went onhttp://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/korean/kkl101/contents.html# for review and their way of saying “this” “that” and “it” and they have a different way of combinig subject particles and “this/that”
    이것+ 이-> 이게 ‘this’ (close to the speaker)
    그것+ 이-> 그게 ‘that’ (far from the speaker, close to the listener)
    저것+ 이-> 저게 ‘that over there’ (far from both the listener and the speaker)
    its kind of weird the way they teach it, but is it correct?

    • orr

      mmm, i dont understand what do you mean,
      is it the same thing with ttki explanation, i don’t see the different?

  • nelly

    i am so confused and dont understand when we are surpose to use them someone please help me!!!

    • Vladimir Lévêque

      For now, what I understand is that you use (eun – neun) when you’ll be making some sort of comparison. I’m not really sure for (i – ga). However, I would suggest you to go back to it or try to watch videos from other people just in case i’m wrong.

  • Vladimir Lévêque

    It’s really kinda hard to understand, but something that worked for me is taking 2-3 days off of that part and focus on previous things we learned, and then came back after 1 day of not doing nothing related to Korean lessons. So, i believe you’ll come back with kinda of a ”fresh mind”, listening and read the lesson again and I actually understood a bit more. Maybe it’ll work for you as well.

  • fel

    i could understand all the lessons well! (after re-reading a few times for the difficult part of course) but it’s really helpful and you guys are so adorable! thanks for making korean easier and more fun to learn :)

  • Leandro Giles

    감사합니다 Talktomeinkorean! This comparison between 오늘은 날씨 좋네요 and 오늘 날씨는 좋네요 made everything clear to me now. I have tried a couple times to understand when to use each of them and even with a professor I couldn’t understand properly.

  • Rose

    In addition to ‘compared to other things’ can the subject marking particle also be used to mean ‘in general’?
    For instance:
    이 책이 좋아요 —> In general, this book is good. (Or maybe–> Overall, this book is good.)

    Thank you for the lesson! 감사합니다!

  • Maha

    I actually do have a question, what is the difference between i chaek and igeot chaek…. don’t they both mean this book?

    • Alyssa Lightning

      Hi Maha ! I had to ask a friend this too – and someone please correct me if I’ve still got it wrong but think of it this way

      instead of understanding
      i = this
      igeot = this thing, this one, this item

      understand as
      i = this _____

      This BLANK. Igeot would be a stand alone THIS (no item), whereas i needs a companion noun like book.

    • Maha

      Ohhh i see! Ne majayo that makes sense, thank you so much Alyssa…
      Do you mind me asking how far you’ve gotten with learning korean and how long it took you? I want to learn because I listen to so much Kpop!

  • Yep

    I’m not 100% on this.

    I get eun/neun pretty well. It’s the difference between:
    My friend’s dad is old. (Normal)
    My friend’s[-neun] dad is old. (Emphasizing it’s HIS dad, and that other dads are likely younger)
    My friend’s dad[-neun] is old. (Emphasizing it’s his DAD, not his MOM or other relatives)
    My friend’s dad is old[-neun]. (Emphasizing he is OLD, like, ANCIENT!)

    Makes perfect sense to me. In english, we usually just emphasize these words (say them louder / write them in caps).

    But I’m not sure I follow with the subject-marking particles. I get that you might use them in one case to denote the subject of a sentence (eg, since korean isn’t S-V-O, it might be confusing who the subject or object of the sentence might be), and I get that this is likely the standard usage.

    However, I don’t understand the secondary use of “none other than.” In their examples, saying either:
    Ichaekeun johaho. ([At least] THIS book is good. — implying you’ve read others and they are bad)
    Ichaeki johaho. (This book is [the only one that’s] good.)

    Don’t they both imply that the other books are inferior?

  • Conax Liu

    I don’t even understand what is ‘subject’ and what is ‘topic’. They both kind of mean the same thing to me….

    • Adrian Jayson Catambay

      I know, right!?

  • Conax Liu

    The recording talks about ‘book’, but the PDF doesn’t use ‘book’ as example at all. So this one is a bit difficult to follow. Can someone kindly give me a couple of sentences using ‘이 책’, one use it as the topic of the sentence, and the other use it as the subject of the sentence? Thank you.

  • Mariah Livingston

    What going on?! Im so confused! :( subject topic? HelpQ

  • Nick

    I need some help here.
    i am stuck
    here in this lesson because i dont know if got this right.
    the topic & subject marking particle, i understand this.

    , 는 to talk
    about the topic of the sentence (what topic of the sentence is)

    , 가 to put
    more concrete the meaning to the sentences subject.

    But i
    don’t know when to use 은 ,
    는 & 이
    , 가.
    I know they
    are used to emphasizing the topic & the subject of a sentence,
    but i don’t know when to use which
    level 1 lesson 10, you made a review time with 은
    , 는 & 이
    , 가.

    있어요 = I have time

    간 은 있어요 = I have time but i don’t want to spend the
    time with you or I have time but i can’t for “some
    reason”, depeding on the situation.

    이 있어요 = I have time to spend with you or i have the
    time or I have time and the resources, it’s basically 시간
    있어요 meaning.
    없어요 = i don’t have time

    은 없어요 = i had other things to do, and didn’t
    have time.

    시간 이 없어요
    = TIME is not what i have.

    , 는 for
    something “negative”?
    <—- something like that

    , 가 for
    something "positive"?

    I pictured it roughly how i understand
    Did i understand it right?

    I would be thankful for
    any help and sorry for my english.
    Thank you

  • Adrian Jayson Catambay

    I don’t even know what the difference is between subject and topic. Aren’t hey use interchangeably in english?!