Korean Sentence Structure

subject•object•verb

In English, we use SVO (subject verb object)

The subject is the one doing an action. The object is what is being acted on (what is being done? What is being eaten? What is being watched?)

I eat cake” in Korean sentence order is “I cake eat

I watch a movie” in Korean sentence structure is “I movie watch

and so on

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-> as the sentences get longer, they get more complex and versatile

as a beginner, memorize this:

subject time location object adverb verb

(who when where what how do)

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You may be familiar with subject/topic/object particles (there are more to learn!) One reason particles are soooo important in Korean, is because the sentence structures can vary 😱 These particles help you know what goes with what.

Here are some basic rules:

1) verb is ALWAYS last

     -> EXCEPTION:

         In some cases, you may see the subject or object stated last. This happens as an afterthought. “oh, the subject/object wasn’t clear, I should clarify😅”

2) 은/는 goes before 이/가

     EXAMPLE:

     -> the weather is nice today

          오늘은 날씨가 좋아요

          (you wouldnt say 날씨가 오늘은 좋아요 or 오늘이 날씨는 좋아요)

3) adverbs go directly before the verb

    -> EXCEPTION:

        같이 (together) can go either right after the subjects, or right before the verb.

“watch a movie together with a friend”

-> 친구랑 같이 영화를 보다

-> 친구랑 영화를 같이 보다

-> 영화를 친구랑 같이 보다

(i was told all 3 are fine but the first sounds more natural)

4) objects are placed right before the verb

         UNLESS there is in adverb, in which case it goes right before the adverb

     -> minus the exception mentioned in number one, when it comes last (as an after thought)

EXAMPLE:

-> to sing 노래를 부르다

-> to sing well -> 노래를 잘 부르다

(“sing” can be 노래를 부르다 or 노래를 하다)

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In other words: the Suject, time, and location can be moved around

THE WAY IM EXPLAINING THE REST IS HOW IT MAKES SENSE TO ME AFTER ASKING 1001 QUESTIONS

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Placing time/location before the subject

-> As a beginner, this may be hard to comprehend. You just need to know:

    “subject time location object adverb verb”

    Typically the subject goes first (because the emphasis of the sentence is plased after the subject). When you place the time or location before the subject, you are not focused on them (it is not the main point of your sentence). In order for this to work, your sentence will have to make sense without it. It is also important to note how it affects the nuance of your sentence. Let me try to show this:

1) 한국에 저는 갈 거예요

     -> I will go….. to korea

     (To korea is like an added information that doesnt really impact the sentence. If you say the location first, you are putting emphasis on the “I will go” rather than the WHERE I am going)

      — I will go…..

This doesn;t make sense by itself, so this sentence is weird.

2) 유월에 저는 한국에 갈 거예요

     -> I will go to korea…. in june

     (Stating the time first makes it more like added information. WHEN I go isnt important, the fact that I am going is important. So this is possible, IF you dont want to stress the time as well as the location.)

3) 저는 유월에 한국에 갈 거예요

I will go to Korea in June

(This is the typical way to say this based on the basic sentence structure)

4) 도서관에서 저는 제 친구랑 같이 공부하고 있어요

    -> I am studying with my friend….. at the library

    (At the library is additional information. The main point of your sentence is that you are studying with your friend. The fact that it is at the library isn’t important. I am emphasizing the fact that I am studying with my friend)

     —– As long as that is what you mean, you can say it this way.

5) 저는 제 친구랑 같이 도서관에서 공부하고 있어요

    -> I am studying at the library with my friend

    (Now, the location is important and I am focusing on what I am doing and where)

6) 병원에서 저는 일해요

     -> I work….. at the hospital

    (This emphasizes “I work” so the location is unimportant. This really doesn’t make any sense. The whole point of saying you work is to indicate WHERE you work. So this sentence is just weird)

7) 저는 병원에서 일해요

    -> I work at the hospital

(This is typical)

7) 새벽 두 시에 저는 일어나요

    -> I wake up…. at 2 in the morning

    (The time is first, so you are emphasizing the “I wake up”. well obviously you do😅 The main point of this sentence is to tell me WHEN you wake up, so this is weird)

8) 저는 새벽 두 시에 일어나요

    -> I wake up at 2 in the morning.

    (Now you are focusing on when you wake up, so this sounds more natural)

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Swapping time and location

-> Much like before, this just changes what is being focused on in the sentence. If the sentence doesn’t make sense without the one that comes first, it is awkward.    

Time and location can be equally important to the sentence. So I think of it like this. You have a phrase consisting of 3 parts. what you do, when, and where. The “what” should always come last… because it is the verb of the sentence. So basically, whichever one you say second (out of the time and location) is the one being focused on more.

1) 저는 유월에 한국에 갈 거예요

     -> I will go to Korea…. in June

    (The location was mentioned second, so the main point is that I am going to Korea. This is typical)

2) 저는 한국에 유월에 갈 거예요

     -> I will go in June….. to Korea

    (The time was mentioned second, so the main point is “go in June”. So this one is a little weird)

3) 월마트에서 낮 한 시에 만나요

     -> (lets) meet at 1 pm…… at walmart

     (this one focuses more on the time)

4) 낮 한 시에 월마트에서 만나요

     -> (lets) meet at walmart….. at 1 pm

     (focuses more on the location)

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I hope this helps you understand how the sentence structure varies at times!

LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR SEE MISTAKES~

I wrote this based on how I read the sentences so I hope the way I tried to break it down makes sense😅

Satyanghae~

Shelbi

Published by Satyanghae Korean (Hannah & Shelbi)

We are just 3 students who wish to share the love and joy of learning Korean through lesson posts and translations! We are doing this for fun, based on our experience and questions we ask native speakers. We are not fluent! Just passionate  ~ Hannah, Shelbi, and Jordan

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