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

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!

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

Level 1 Lesson 9 / topic,subject marking particles / 은, 는, 이, 가
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  • kpop-anabell

    If people want to study together, my kakaotalk is Anabellw0w

    • J Flawless

      I sent you an add 🙂

  • Mary

    Thank you so much for this great work! It is really easy to study Korean right now

  • Sonya Vladova

    이거는 뭐여요? Is that correct?

  • isha

    I was trying to get my head around this concept for such a long time then I ran into TTMIK and your lesson made it so understandable! THANKYOU SO MUCH. ~~

  • Minea

    I still don’t quite get what’s the difference between topic and subject marking particles? As in when you’re supposed to use them? Also when you said that a sentence without them is perfectly understandable, but not complete. Yet you still said that sometimes you’re not supposed to use them…

    • Gracyyy Webb

      We in Germany, have subject and topic marking particels and even more particles. But i will try to explain the difference for these two here even though english doesnt really have those particles.

      1)The topic marking particels (은eun/neun는) will be used when you want to emphasize that something is different from the rest.
      2) Subject marking particels (이i/ga가) will be used when you want to emphasize what you are talking about/ emphasize the subject of the sentence. Most of the time the subject is the noun and the thing or the person that is doing something.

      I will tell you two words so you will understand me.
      술은 (Sul) = liqour | 초아요 (joayo) = good


      -Simple without the particels.
      술 초아요. (sul joayo.)
      The liquor is good.

      -With topic marking particels
      술은 초아요. ( sul-eun joayo.)
      ( At least,) this liquor is good / (The other liquors are bad but,) THIS liquor is good.

      -With subject marking particels
      (Often times used when you get asked about the subject of the sentence.)
      뭐가 좋아요? (mwo-ga joayo)
      What is good? ( Question about the Subject)
      술은이 초아뭐가 요. (sul-i joayo.)
      This liquour is good.

      See how it changed in english from ‘the’ in the simple sentence to ‘this’ in both
      particle sentences?

      I would only use eun/neun when you want to say that something is (ABD) but other related things are not and use i/ga when you really want to emphasize the topic.

    • misidontknowwhattodo

      that was very helpful. thank you

  • 조슈아

    저는 진구가 있었어요…
    I had a friend…

  • iyxnxa

    Who wants to be my Korean study partner?

    I’m 12 so please be 11-13 😛

    My instagram: is @iyxnxa

    • I would like to , I’m 27 🙁

    • Thankie

      Let’s study together I’m 26 🙂 and my kakaotalk: thankie I’m the girl in red. My Instagram @quanphuongthanh

    • sqrk_

      I would like to as well, but I’m 21 haha. (If you flip it, it gives you 12 though)
      @disqus_JiBIHZX09F:disqus let me know if you’d like too

  • Andres Juarez

    I’m looking for study buddies my KakaoTalk is Andresj03

  • mathilda

    Hello! I think it’s the opposite instead, and that’s a good way of putting it to understand better.

    For example: To put it more simple,
    은/는 – When contrasting, 은/는 is used without caring about what other things are like. So if you say “This book is good” using 은/는, you’re basically saying “I don’t know about the others but this book is good.”

    이/가 – Like stated in the audio, it is mostly used when answering a question. Let’s say you’ve read all three books and someone asks you which one is good. And you answer, “out of all, THIS one is good.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong too!

    • Tati

      i think thats it as well, thats kinda what i understood. I think whats confusing is that most languages dont have or dont really deal with sentences topics, so its hard to distinguish what is what.

  • Deannel

    I’m looking for study buddies!
    Do add me, kakaotalk ID is abj017
    I’m 25 🙂

  • Tati

    Im slightly confused though. I get how each particle can change the nuance of the sentence but then does this mean that we shouldn’t use it if we aren’t trying to change anything? Like if i’m trying to say that a book is simply good and not change the nuance of anything should I just skip the particles even though thats not grammatically correct?

    • Rachel Emma Attewell

      I’m wondering even if it would be grammatically correct to add a subject particle after good?

  • Weslley Patrik

    I’m looking for study buddies my KakaoTalk is: weegms2

  • Weslley Patrik

    My native language is Portuguese and I’m in progress about my English too and also beginner in Korean.
    My Kakao ID: weegms2

  • Jeremy Darmanin

    Can anyone tell me if these are the same the は and が particles in Japanese, please?