Korean Fundamentals: Lesson 4 – Basic Word Order

Now that you have begun to master the Korean alphabet, it is time to start learning how to say short phrases in Korean. But how exactly are Korean sentences structured?

Many learners have trouble with Korean (and Japanese) sentence structure because it is considered and “inverted” structure meaning that the verb goes all the way at the end. Have you ever noticed that Koreans end their sentences with “yo” a lot?

All Korean sentences, at their most elementary level, exist as either “subject + verb” or “subject + object + verb.” But beware! Sometimes the subject is omitted because it is inferred. This actually happens more often than not, and we will elaborate more on that later. Just realize that you don’t have to start your sentence with “I” or “you” or another word along those lines, especially if you have already used it in a preceding sentence!

Subject + verb: 저는 기다려요. (jeo-neun gi-da-ryeo-yo.) – I’m waiting.
Subject + object + verb: 선우씨는 책을 읽어요. (sun-woo-si-neun chaeg-eul ilg-eo-yo.) – Sunwoo reads a book.

In Korean, the saying “you need to listen until the end of the sentence” rings true because you can never tell if the speaker is expressing the past, present, future, positive or negative unless you listen all the way through. The last word is commonly one of the most important words to understand when learning Korean! We will explain the variety of words that are in the final position in another lesson. (I feel like I am saying that a lot, but taking this one small step at a time is generally best.)

Please post your questions in the comments! Once you feel you have a relatively good grasp on this structure continue on to the next lesson!


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