Recently discovered another great site on korean grammar. The entire thing is written in korean – but that’s the fun and challenging part right? 😛
The site merits another post on its own and thus, let’s zoom in to the explanation. The information below is taken from the site. I’ve simply tranlsated it into English.
Topic Marker 은/는
When ‘은/는’ is attached to the noun right at the beginning of the sentence, the noun is the sentence’s ‘topic’.(hence the name ‘topic marker’) When it is not directly attached to the noun, but attached to other particles or endings, it has the meaning of ‘contrast’ or ’emphasis’.
1. When marking the sentence’s topic
예) 오늘은 집에서 쉬겠습니다
혜리는 카가 큽니다.
이 방만은 햇볕이 잘 들어요.
김치는 한국의 대표적인 음식이다.
2. when used to ‘contrast’ or ’emphasize’
The two clauses are contrastive
예) 그는 듣기는 못하지만 말하기는 잘합니다 – contrast between the person’s listening and speaking skills
선생님은 말씀하시는데 학생은 졸고 있어요 – contrast between the action of the teacher VS student
3. When attached behind other particles and endings
Usually used as an emphasis. Sometimes added behind adverbs too (not all adverbs can work this way)
예) 교실에서는 장난하지 마세요
사람이 빵말으로는 살 수 없다
집이 멀지는 않아요
한국말을 잘은 못 해요
이/가 VS 은/는
Here’s the horribly confusing part that none of us can understand. When used to mark the subjective case, what’s the difference between them? (Even the site admits that it’s confusing!)
1. 준수가 집에 있다
2. 준수는 집에 있다
When translated to english or other langauges, this simply means ‘Jun-Su is at home’. However, in korean..
This sentence specify that someone named ‘Jun-Su’ is at home.
Has a constrastive naunce to it. Keeping in mind the whereabouts of other people, the speaker says that Jun-Su is at home. The topic of the sentence is ‘the whereabouts of people’.
So, let’s look at another example.
1. 준수가 대학생이 되었다
2. 준수가 대학생은 되었다
In this sentence, the speaker is trying to tell others the fact that Jun Su has become a university student.
Has a vaguer meaning to it. Although Jun-Su has become a university student, there is something more to it. The sentence is hinting at something else. For example, Jun Su may have become a university student, but there are many problems or that she may not be able to graduate. smoothly.
Imagine trying to convey so much information in one sentence when translated to english. Mission Impossible.
Are you still there? – heh just checking (:
이번에는 제가 찍을게요
When saying this, you can trying to ‘differentiate’ yourself from a group of people and to stand out. For example, when voluteering, you can use this construction. (i.e 제가 할게요)
You can’t say 이번에는 저는 찍을게요 (X)
Similarly, in the sentence, 저녁은 제가 제가 사겠습니다, you are trying to ‘stand out’ and offering to pay for dinner.
Do check out the site! (: it’s really helpful.