Subject, Object, and Topic Markers

Click the following links to skip ahead in the blog

Subject Marking Particles

Topic vs Subject: Effects on 저 나 너

Using with action vs descriptive verbs

Object Marking Particles

using with 되다 (to become)

Tying It All Together

Topic Marking Particles 은/는

These are added directly to the noun:

-> if ends in a consonant

-> if ends in a vowel

1) Adds emphasis when using 이, 그, 저 (this and that)

— You can also use 이/가 with these. 은/는 just adds more emphasis to the subject. (Kinda like “this specific thing” vs “this thing in general” is kinda how I take it).

2) With action verbs, 은/는 focuses on WHAT the subject is doing (what are they doing? 은/는!)

3) With descriptive verbs, implies a comparison.

“This is ~ but another thing may not be ~“.

4)Used as you continue talking about a subject that has been introduced as you are focused on what it is about that subject.

Subject Marking Particles 이/가

These are added directly to the noun:

-> if ends in a consonant 

-> if ends in a vowel

1) Used exclusively with certain verbs and grammar points.

2) With action verbs, it focuses on WHO is doing the action (Who is doing it? 이/가!)

3) With descriptive verbs, it makes a general statement.

4) Used when you introduce a new subject as you are focused on the new subject. (Puts the focus on the fact that a new subject is being introduced).

Topic vs Subject: Effects on 저 나 너

-> 저 나 and 너 are written differently based on the particle used

I – formal

저 + 는 = 저는

저 + 가 = 제가

-> so 저는 and 제가 both mean “I”, the difference is the particle used

I – informal

나 + 는 = 나는

나 + 가 = 내가

You – informal

너 + 는 = 너는

너 + 가 = 네가

( 네가 often pronounced, and therefore spelled, as 니가. It is truly 네가 but has slowly changed over time to be 니가) so 네가 = 니가 (just a note for the future)


you will also see 누가 for “who” which is short for 누구가

Using with possession

Both can be used to mark the thing being possessed (we will learn more about possession later)



제가 가게에 갔어요— I am the one who went to the store (for example, this would be your response to “누가 가게에 갔어요?”. The action is already established. You don’t care about the action. You care about WHO is doing/did it)

저는 가게에 갔어요— Went to the store is what I did (I am focused on what I did, not who did it. This is your typical sentence)

고양이가 먹고 있어요— The cat is the one who is eating (Focused on the cat)

고양이는 먹고 있어요— Eating is what the cat is doing (Focused on what the cat is doing)

So with action verbs, 은/는 is more commonly seen because you will most often be focused on the action vs the person who is doing the action. 


고양이가 귀여워요— In general, cats are cute. (No comparison. Nothing special. Plain statement.)

고양이는 귀여워요— Compared to other things, the cat is cute. (Maybe there is a cat and a dog and you are like “well… the cat is cute.”)

So when using descriptive verbs, 이/가 is more commonly seen because you will most often be making general statements than comparison statements

Object Marking Particles 을/를

This is the object particle so it marks what is being verbed.

-> 을 if ends in a consonant

 -> if ends in a vowel

What is being liked? What is being done? What is being eaten? What is being given? The “what” is marked with 을/를.


Korean Sentence Order 

-> Subject Object Verb

저는 사과를 먹어요

I eat an apple ( I apple eat)

저는 술을 마셔요

I drink alcohol ( I alcohol drink)

저는 한국어를 공부해요

I study Korean ( I korean study)

무엇을 먹어요? 

What do you eat? ( What eat? )

(by context its more like “what are you eating?”)

영화를 봐요

I watch a movie ( I movie watch )

using with 되다 (to become)

With the verb 되다-> 은/는 marks what is changing and 이/가 marks what it is being changed into

->물은 얼음이 됐어요 the water became ice (froze)

-> more natural sentence “water turned into ice”

-> 얼음은 물이 됐어요 the ice became water (melted)

-> more natual sentence “ice turned into water”

좋다 vs 좋아하다 and 싫다 vs 싫어하다

This next concept ties everything together. 


These are descriptive verbs, so they will use 은/는 or 이/가.

Use 은/이 if ends in a consonant

Use 는/가 if ends in a vowel

사과가 좋아요

Apples are good

(This can also mean “I like apples”. If you are saying they are good, you obviously like them)

사과는 좋아요

Apples are good

(But maybe something else, like the bananas, aren’t good) Using 은/는 indicates that you are making some kind of comparison whereas the 이/가 is just a general statement.

귤이 싫어요

I dislike/hate tangerines (In Korean, the subjects are most often inferred and not stated).

귤은 싫어요

I hate the tangerines 

(But maybe there is something else that i don’t hate/dislike)


These are action verbs, so they use the object particles.

저는 사과를 좋아해요

I like apples

저는 귤을 싫어해요

I hate/dislike tangerines



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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: