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. And after you learn the basics, try writing your own Korean sentences and get corrections from native speakers through HaruKorean, our 1:1 correction service.


  • yourippehdees

    Random question: how do I figure out the order of dictionary entries? Online is not a problem, but I like my book sometimes. Right now I just flip through till I find the right section – can you point me to a good explanation of how this works? 정말 감사합니다 for all the fantastic lessons and for your help!

    • PenguinBeng

      Order? I think this song will help you about that.

      (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTpRPuCXPcEa)

      하지만, I’m not so sure about the double consonants.

    • yourippehdees

      Thanks – I think! I heard this song one time and it’s stuck very solidly in my head.

  • Allyson

    Can someone help. I’m confused on subject and topis. What is the difference between the two?

  • kelsey

    thank you so much for your lessons! they are so well done and are really helping me learn. they are also helping my omma remember the things she forgot from when she was a child. i am curious though about why the word for “good” changed from 좋네요 to 좋아요 in different sentences? thank you again for your hard work!

  • 야위

    Is it possible to have both subject and topic marking particles at a same sentence? Also sometimes i hear they use both 이 and 가 used in a word, how is that?

    어쨋든 감사합니다 선생님들~

  • https://www.facebook.com/yinara94 Noor M. Ahmed

    안녕하세요 :) I was completely misunderstanding these particles and they always made me confused .. but thank to you I finally understood them :) you are the best teachers ever <3 감사합니다

  • Danning

    Don’t know if this is the right way to say:” I know that you like me”

    내가 알아 니가 나는 좋아요 or should I just say 니가 나는 좋아요, 내가 알아 ???

    Thanks!

  • CW

    Hello, thank you for your great lessons! I just recently found this website and found your classes wonderful and help me to get started on learning Korean (btw, I am going to Korea for 6 weeks this summer! although…I don’t speak much korean yet!)

    I have a question regarding the subject and topic marking particles and hope TTMIK (or those who have been learning korean) could help me

    here is half of a conversation in a Korean teaching book that I got.

    A: 누구 거예요?
    B: 마크 씨 거예요
    A: 마크 씨가 누구예요?
    B: 제 친구예요

    so the third sentence ‘마크 씨가 누구예요?’
    can you say
    마크 씨”는” 누구예요?

    Since the question is about a person (마크) wouldn’t that be the “topic” of the question?

    Will you be asking 2 different things if you say
    마크 씨”가” 누구예요?
    versus
    마크 씨”는” 누구예요?

    if 마크 씨”는” 누구예요? is not right…
    then why do we say
    저”는” 미국 사람이에요

    • CW

      LOL never mind!
      I think I got my answer in the later lessons of this level!!!
      I should’ve just be a bit more patient. Thank you for the amazing lessons again!

    • Jiko Jiks

      Hi, can we know what’s the correct answer for that? I think it’s “마크 씨”는” 누구예요?” is the right one, but I’m not so sure. It’s really confusing :)

  • nicole

    Hi, just for clarification
    does adding 은/는 in noun makes the meaning like:”among others” this is the best?
    while adding 이/가 is just talking about the subject itself and nothing else?

    form your example:
    오늘 날씨는 좋네요 (Today, not necessarily everything else too, but at least the weather is good)

    if i change 는 to 가 : 오늘 날씨가 좋네요. does the meaning become: “the weather today is good.” ?

    is it correct? please help :) 감사합니다~

    • JooyeonPark

      perfect explanation! haha
      You are 100% right :)

    • nicole

      감사합니다 선생님~

    • PenguinBeng

      정말 감사합니다! 정말 정말! After listening again to the podcast of this lesson and reading your comment, I think I finally understand it! (but of course after several mistakes, I think I’ll be able to get used to it and learn from it.) Thank you very much!

  • Michael Mcgregor

    which software can be down loaded onto a windows computer to type hangul? also since ttmik is closing its one on one writing service, anywhere I can go to submit practice sentences?

  • Sanjeeda Masroor

    Now I know why the song is called ” Ne-GA che chaalaga”

  • Sanjeeda Masroor

    Can somebody correct me if I’m wrong
    “This bag is very strong ”
    ” igeot gabang – Eun neomu ganghan-eyo”

    • Saleema

      Saying, “이 가방은 아주/너무 강하네요.” (ee gabang-eun ajoo/neomoo ganghanaeyo) sounds more natural. I’m not a native speaker, but I have been learning for a little more than 3 years. However, I do think that your way of wording it was a bit awkward. I hope this helps :)

    • Sanjeeda Masroor

      Thanks for the correction.

  • Victoria Gordon

    What confused me the most was the difference between topic and subject marking particle. I would think they would mean the same. I found this YouTube link for anyone else who might still be struggling. I still have questions, but it definitely helped me a little.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkuXEL7kCgg

    • Alanda Benny

      Thanks.. It helped me too…

  • suu rene

    i would like to ask use”ga” + vowel.
    but XYZ is not vowel, it ends with consonant but how come is “XYZ-GA jo-a-yo”?

  • Irem K.

    so couldn´t I also say: ABC is good? XYZ (not “ga” but) neun is good

  • PenguinBeng

    현우씨, 경은씨 목소리가 좋아요.

  • Lyann Nove

    i would like to ask if I say “this person is my friend” how do i say that in korean ?

    • martina

      이 사람은 내 친구입니다.

    • Elico Malata

      can you please state the functions of each word in the sentence? add also the prefix.
      thanks

    • martina

      이 사람은 = literally “this person”
      내 친구 = literally “my friend”
      입니다 = is/to be
      hope that helps :)

    • Elico Malata

      is it okay to not include -eun in the sentence since your not comparing it to other people yes?
      im sort of doubtful using these particles.

    • martina

      it wouldn’t sound right if you dropped them…

  • Meng Liling

    Sorry, What is the different between 이/가 and 은/는? I am not of using them.

  • Meng Liling

    Sorry, What is the different between 은/ 는 and 이/ 가 ? When should we use 은/ 는 or 이/ 가 ?

  • mjhollyberry

    Would you say that 는/은 is used more
    when there is a limited amount of things to compare and 이/가 are used for a more broad comparison?
    For example if I was in a bookstore and my friend asked which book is good, I would say 이책이좋아요, since I haven’t read all the books in the store. However if she was pointing to some books on display then I could say 이책은좋아요, since there is a stronger chance I read all of the books om display.

    • Meng Liling

      감사합니다.

    • mjhollyberry

      아니요

      I’m not completely sure about this. My other theory,based on the examples, is 은/는 is used more for things that be proven or more fact based. Where 이/가 are used when stating an opinion. This is just a theory, so don’t take my word on it.

    • Meng Liling

      네, 감사합니다.

  • beginnerALMAHA

    i’m confused i heard the mp3 more than 3 times and i still can’t see the difference between 은 / 는 and 이 가 they both are similar T-T <3 제발 도와주세요

  • Call Me Vin

    Can i say ‘i geo chaek eun ie yo’ instead of ‘i geo neun chaek ie yo’?

  • Natalie

    Thank you so much for making these lessons! They are so funny and I’m always laughing at the jokes. Thank you so much for making learning Korean so fun! 감사합니다!

  • ethel :)

    Damn it I’m hungry after samgyeopsal XD

  • Abigail Murray

    Okay so I am looking at the PDF on page 2 and the example is “내일은저는일해요” It explains that tomorrow is a topic but not the subject of the sentence which is why it is marked with “eun” which makes sense because that is a topic marking particle. It then goes on to say that “I” is the subject (which I agree) but in the sentence there is another topic marking particle rather than a subject marking particle. I understand that subject and topic marking particles show a different level of emphasis so maybe the general name has me confused on where and when to use them… ?? little clarification please?

  • http://flavors.me/anjeu67 탕나무

    This topic is very difficult. I’m still confuse lol

  • mio senpai

    annyong ha se yo ! i’m still confused a little bit about i/ga but you DID explain the lesson very well, i will do my best! 검 서 헙 니 더 ( i hope it was correctly written)

    • OYOrange

      감사합니다, you wrote “geom seo heob ni da” just remember ㅓis “eo” andㅏis “a” ㅋㅋ

  • Lili

    In the PDF it has the example sentence of:
    내일은 저는 일해요. [nae-il-eun jeo-neun il-hae-yo]
    = “As for tomorrow, I work.”

    Why is there “eun” after nae-il when the emphasis is jeo?

    • Rand

      They do explain that but I’ll try to break it down more.

      내일은 – by adding 은 this is changed from “tomorrow” to “As for tomorrow”, i.e. the speaker has made clear that in this sentence they are discussing the noun “tomorrow”: i.e. what follows is ONLY about tomorrow (they are not saying “I’m working” or “I’m always working”, but “Tomorrow I’m working”, and I believe by using that particle the speaker is also conveying the idea that “Not every day, but tomorrow in particular, I work”).

      저는 – someone smarter than me would have to explain why we use 는 here instead of the subject marking particle (as far as I know you can never refer to people with the subject particle even if they’re the object of the sentence), but here the speaker is declaring that they are the SUBJECT of the upcoming verb IN REFERENCE TO the sentence topic “tomorrow”.

      If it helps at all, remember that that translation is very literal. A proper translation into English would be “I am working tomorrow.”

  • Corina

    What is the difference between a subject and a topic? How can i tell the difference?

  • Alex

    Wow, now I’m totally confused…I’ve been learning korean for a year now and our teacher kept telling us that 는/은 and 이/가 are absolutely necessary. like it ALWAYS has to be in the sentence.

  • Rand

    Most blogs I’ve read say that this a subtle part of the language that takes years to master so you shouldn’t expect to really even understand it without just experiencing it a lot. If it helps anyone else, 는/은 puts more emphasis on the verb whereas 가/이 puts more emphasis on the noun. i.e. the topic particle is concerned with what was/is/will be DONE, whereas the subject marking particle is more concerned with WHO did it.

    e.g.
    저는 물 마시고 십어요 = I >drankdrank waterIwater<. (it was definitely water.)

    The last one is a bit weird but I think it comes across as the fact that it was water being far more important to your conversation than the fact that you had anything to do with it. You're just providing context for why you know it's water. (e.g. if someone were to ask you "How do you know that is water?")