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

Download Available

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 both the PDF lesson notes and the MP3 audio track for this lesson below, and if you want to learn with our various textbooks and workbooks, you can get them on our online bookstore at MyKoreanStore.com. If you have any questions about this lesson, please leave us comments below!

Download PDF

Download MP3

Go to the Grammar Curriculum page to see all of our grammar lessons.

  • Hala

    Thank you so much, this is really helpful ;-; <3

  • nuanua

    I’m glad that I learn English. XDD ((although my writing is not very good ˊ ˇˋ
    I had searched the details of Korean for a long time…but they are not very helpful…
    It is a really nice place to learn Korean and practice listening comprehension~ ha ha~
    Thank you so much~~It enables me to know the fun of learning foreign languages ~

    ah… actually I’m Taiwanese,ha ha~((so if anyone notices the strange grammar, please tell me,thx~:))

  • Yukie

    So if i wamt to say , i only love ShinHwa in korean, is it 신화는 사랑해요 ? Correct me if im wrong, 감사합니다 ^^

    • Jiin Choi

      You would say 저는 신화를 사랑해요 (I love ShinHwa) or 저는 신화만 사랑해요 (I love only ShinHwa).
      In the first sentence, 를 marks the object of your love. In the second sentence, 만 means “only”.
      Remember that 은/는 marks the topic. In this case, the topic would be you (저).

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks for your explanation! It was awesome!

    • Yukie

      Alright,thank u so much!

  • ly

    why can’t i say 뭐가 먹었어요?

    • Kenny Lau

      If you have intended to say “what did you eat”, then this sentence is wrong because the 뭐 is the object of the question instead of the subject. You can tell that by how you answer: “I ate an apple”. The “apple” is the answer to “what” and it is in the object position. Therefore, you would need the object marking particle 를/을.

      If you intended to mean “who ate?”, then this sentence is wrong because “who” is 누구 instead of 뭐. Don’t depersonalize a human! :p

  • Kenny Lau

    In the lesson it is claimed that the topic marker emphasizes the topic, but does it not emphasize the verb instead? Like, 이거는 사과예요 would mean “this is actually an apple (but not an orange)”?

  • Kenny Lau

    Can I use the topic marking particle to mark the object? For example, if I want to say “as for this apple, I have eaten it”, can I say 이사과는 먹었어?

    I know that “I ate this apple” is 이사과를 먹었어.

  • Casey Ward

    i think i will be listening to this one a few times

  • Lauren Marino

    I found this to be really helpful in understanding it a little more.

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks for introducing another source to learn the subject/topic marking particles. It is actually quite hard part of Korean. It is also good to get much useful information from various sources.

  • Casey Ward

    my 5th time lisrening to this lesson and im still confused

  • Ai-mee Ding

    In the pdf they use the example “as for tomorrow, I work” where they explained that “tomorrow” is the topic and gets -eun but not the subject and the subject is “I” but they still used -neun after the “I” shouldn’t it have been the subject marking particle -ga because “I” was the subject of the sentence? and also if the noun is the subject and the topic do you then use the topic or the subject marking particles or can you use both?

    • Seokjin Jin

      Hi. Thanks for your comment. Subject / topic marking particles are used to added the nuance of the sentence, so sometimes they are omitted or sometimes same particles are used in a same sentence, like the example.

      내일은 제가 일해요. and 내일은 저는 일해요 both can be correct. Just the nuance of the sentences is a little bit different.

  • Vanessa

    Sorry my question may be stupid, but how do I identify which is the topic which is the subject? English is actually my second language, so I am not too sure what is the difference between topic and subject, hence I am not too sure when to use 은/는 or 이/가

  • moniel paralejas

    this is correct?친구가 많은 것 같아요

    • Ru’a

      i was also wondering how this sentence is written

  • e2x2o

    I started learning korean language because of exo too. I like them alot

  • kpop

    I understand this as: I should use 은/는 to mark the topic – the one I am talking about. And 이/가 to mark the subject – the one I’m referring to? Am I right? this is so hard

    • Seokjin Jin

      Yes. You need to practice a lot to get used to it. The particle is quite hard part of Korean grammar.