Kickin' it in Korea

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Idiot's Guide to Learning Korean

Learning the Korean language is no easy task. And, if you never talk to native Koreans, then you'll never need it, as the only Koreans who will be willing to talk to you are the ones who can hold a conversation in English, most of the others will giggle and run away in shame. Still, it only helps when you know the language, and I think it is at least courteous to know something in the language of the country you live in. The only downside I can see is that you easily know all the bad things people say about you, but often you have to smile and pretend you do not. You can often find language exchange partners or sign up for a class, or if you are truly diligent, learn on your own. I can have some general conversation now, So lets start with the basics

1. The Alphabet

2. Sentence Structure
Korean sentences have a different word order from English. English has a Subject-Verb-Object word order, a Korean sentence typically has a Subject-Object-Verb word order

3. The Endings
Once you learn the verbs, you will learn that Korean place a lot of emphasis on politeness, and the degree of politeness is determined by the age of the person to whom you are speaking as well as familiarity. So you can drop the ending of any verb and have the least formal.
Lets take for example 미안 하다(Mian Hada) - To be sorry
to someone you have never met before/much older -
미안 합니다- Mian Hamnida
to someone who appears less scary (objective) -
미안 해요 Haeyo
To someone who appears younger maybe that you know -
미안 해 Mian Hae
and to someone you are super familiar with -
미안 - Mian
There are even more formal ways like - Seyo - for like grandparents etc

4. Basic Tenses
1. Present tense is all I spoke about, the most commonly used of which is 어요/아요
The present tense is just as you have learned. You take the dictionary form of a verb, drop the 다, add the appropriate ending.
먹다 - 먹 + 어요 = 먹어요
마시다 - 마시 + 어요 - 마시어요 - 마셔요.

2. Past tense add 어 or 아 to the ending after dropping the 다 , then add ㅆ under the last syllable and add 어요 on the end.


먹다
먹 + 어 - 먹어
먹어 + ㅆ - 먹었
먹었 + 어요 = 먹었어요.


마시다
마시 + 어 - 마셔
마셔 + ㅆ - 마셨
마셨 + 어요 = 마셨어요


가다
가 + 아 - 가
가 + ㅆ - 갔
갔 + 어요 = 갔어요

3. for Future tense Take the verb base, 먹 for our example using 먹다.

Attach (으)ㄹ 거에요 <<(l)go ye yo>>to the verb base. If the base ends in a consonant, you attach 을 거에요. If it ends in a vowel, you attach ㄹ 거에요

5. Miscellaneous
This should be enough to help you have the most basic conversations, as you can imagine there is so much more to it, imperative, irregular verbs but its just a start. Happy learning. Much more can be found here (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Korean/Verbs) Google learn Korean for even more
hope this helps :)

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