[Review] Korean Grammar Dictionary 외국어로서의 한국어 문법 사전

20 February, 2011

I have meant to review this dictionary ever since I bought in June 2010. (I bought this on the first day in Korea!!) I’m glad Jeannie reminded me of it when she spotted this in the picture of the previous post ^^

As the title suggests, it is a grammar dictionary of Korean as a foreign language. I won’t really say it is meant for foreigners since the entire book is written in Korean. But it is a very very good resource to have for advanced learners. As usual, scroll to the bottom of the post for a summary if you don’t want to listen to the long-winded me! ^^

If I’m not wrong, there are a few grammar dictionaries/guidebooks written in English but none that I’ve seen so far is as comprehensive and detailed as those written in Korean. It’s a all-in-one book, so you just have to search the index for the grammar point you are looking for. No more flipping through various textbooks and wondering where you have learnt that grammar construction.

This dictionary is meant to complement your textbooks and I would not advise anyone to learn the grammar straight from the dictionary. Just like you won’t learn new vocabulary from a dictionary… (:
The explanations given here are much more detailed as they include a breakdown of the grammar construction.

Eg. -(으)로 해서 is 조사 -로 + 동사 하다 + 연결어미 -여서

This is then followed by its meaning and several examples to illustrate its uses. What I really like about this is how they are additional notes for certain grammatical constructions. In these notes, they sometimes compare similar grammatical constructions, but highlighting the differences in the uses/nuances.

The dictionary did fail me a few times but I would say it’s a very comprehensive and detailed collection of the grammar constructions of Korean. ^^ There is a section in front that gives some background details on the Korean language and other useful information. I have yet to read it (ㅠㅠ) but here’s a pretty useful piece of information! It is a table that tells you when to use the sino-korean numbers and when to use the native numbers!

My not very successful attempt at arty photography

Good points

  • Much more detailed than grammar explanations found in textbooks etc
  • loads of examples with additional notes on certain grammar points

To be improved

  • the index is a little annoying to use and it’s sometimes hard to find what you want at a glance
  • failed me on a few instances (LOL)
26 Comments
    1. “I won’t really say it is meant for foreigners since the entire book is written in Korean.”

      Why not? English grammar books for second language learners are written in English, so why shouldn’t Korean grammar books be written in Korean too?

    1. like what you said, those books are usually meant for 2nd language learners. You wouldn’t really expect foreigners who are learning korean as a foreign language to be able to use the book unless they are advanced learners. I’m saying it will be great if there is a more comprehensive grammar dictionary written in english than what is currently available.

    1. I’m not quite sure what you are saying. A foreign language can be a second language(L2) or a third or fourth. Korean in my second language and I am a foreigner, thus Korean being a second and foreign language to me.

      There are tons of books about English grammar written in English also, one of the most popular being ‘English Grammar in Use’. These are specifically designed for people learning English as a foreign language.

      As for books in English, you mean like this? http://www.hanbooks.com/korgramforin.html

      1. 2nd language is used for learning a language which is also spoken in the community that you are living in while foreign languages are languages that are not used in the local community. That’s how we use the terms in linguistics.

        I know what you mean. I am just saying that they are not suited for the beginner/lower intermediate learners.

        Yup I’ve seen that book that you have mentioned. It is not as comprehensive as the korean ones.

    1. hehe I knew that you would say that because I also majored in linguistics. I know what you mean too 🙂
      I guess I just thought it was a bit funny because you said “I won’t really say it is meant for foreigners” when foreigners will be the majority using the book. (Apart from Korean teachers!)

      Yeah, I own the book I mentioned but it was given to me, I didn’t buy it. I agree that it could be more comprehensive, it seemed to be aimed at elementary to intermediate learners. Also, just looking at it after so many years the English translations are horrible. Disappointing since it was published by 연세 >_<

      1. Oh that’s cool! ^^ Did you specialised in any area of linguistics?

        I wished books aimed at elementary-intermediate books have more detailed descriptions. It’s pretty annoying to think that you have mastered a grammar construction and later find out that there are certain nuances or that it differs from another construction that was said to be interchangeable.

        I agree about the English translations ):

        1. I particularly enjoyed phonology and took all the courses I could in that area. I don’t remember too much though as it has been a few years but I still enjoy it.

          Korean Language Education is still in its early stages but I feel confident that it will grow to become a lot better with constant globalisation and a new generation of teachers.

          Since it’s still in its early stages there are so many books out there but many have strange and useless things in them. At university(not in Korea) we were made to study the historic language in the drama 대장금 while most of the class could barely hold a conversation in Korean!

          Personally I feel grammar is a topic which you can only explain so much. There are so many exceptions and anomalies to grammar structures in any language so it is impossible to cover all situations.Nevertheless, I do agree that they could do better on things such as nuances and situations. Grammar books should specifically mention which grammar structures are used commonly and which are not. Which are used, for example only in books or written form etc.

          Still, even if you perfectly memorise a REALLY good grammar book, you can only learn it properly by listening, using and experimenting for yourself. Language and in this case, grammatical structures can have emotions and culture hidden inside them which one has to feel for themselves. The problem is that this takes a lot of time.

        1. Yes~ learning a language is all about experimenting and learning from the mistakes. But I guess that’s where the fun and challenge lies. (:

          Yup I agree about the need to specify which grammar structure are the commonly used ones. I find myself using some constructions that are more suited for formal prose and I’m lucky my korean friends pointed that out to me!

    1. Oh I was going to ask you to review this book! I was looking for it in 교보 and Libro after I saw it last night and there’s no stock in my area so I have to find it in other book stores. My 교포 friend is going to buy me this book though I can’t wait to get it so maybe I should but it myself.

      I’m just wondering what instances did the book failed you?

      1. hahaha i forgot (>,<) This shows that I should review the book when everything is fresh in my mind. But I think it's a really good and comprehensive book! ^^

    1. I already have two other grammar books, but after reading your review I caved and decided to order this. I can hardly wait to get it!

      Does that make me a grammar geek? ^^;;

        1. I’m using “Korean Grammar for International Learners” and “Using Korean: A Guide to Contemporary Usage”. In addition 외국어로서의 한국어 문법 사전 I also bought its companion book, 외국어로서의 한국어 교육학 개론. I know it’s targeted at Korean teachers, but after seeing the chapter titles and a few pages of the second book, I thought it would be nice to get a Korean
          perspective on how difficult aspects of the language should be handled and presented when taught to foreigners.

          I’m sure my 전자사전 is going to be my constant companion as I try to read the book, but I’m excited to try. (My order has finally shipped!)

        1. woah that sounds interesting! It’s always nice to see things from another perspective. 😀 do let me know how’s the book when u have received it *excited*

    1. heys! i saw this book at bandi and luni’s last week, but i bought the english version instead. i thought it was the same book..it’s not? i briefly compared them and they seemed the same! i’m not good enough yet to read grammar explanations in korean so bought the english version >.< hope it's not too bad! (i haven't actually looked through it coz i got my friend to bring it back to sg for me, afraid of overweight luggage coz i'm going hk after this! haha)

      1. wow! u are hk straightaway from korea? O.o hehe so cool! i dint know they have the english version. snap some photos of it next time. i wanna see 😀 😀

        1. haha yeah, meeting my jc friends there! :p oh someone mentioned it before in the previous comment, it’s this one! (or so i thought)

          http://www.hanbooks.com/korgramforin.html

          i read the foreword and it sounded like it was a translated version of this book. it they were placed side-by-side too hmm…

    1. hey shanna! not sure if you saw my reply on my post but the comments got deleted by blogger =/ so lousy. anyway yeah! we must meet when i’m back (: and go for more interesting food haha ^^ i’m meeting my friends in HK so i’ll fly there directly haha (: and all the best for your exams!

    1. Hello.

      Do you know the three-book Japanese grammar dictionary series? The first one is called, “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar.’ I’m studying Japanese, and these have been by far my favorite resource.

      Have you come across anything like that for Korean grammar? It sounds like you haven’t found anything you consider thorough enough, but any recommendations are appreciated!

      Thanks.

      1. this one is pretty thorough and I like it! There’s another good one called 외국인위한 한국어 문법사전. (in korean though) most of the good grammar dictionaries are in Korean!

    1. Thanks! I bought this book after reading your review. (Without your post I wouldn’t know it existed). The first time I opened it, I thought, wow, it’s all hangeul! Can I really use it at my level?
      At first it was very hard to understand the explanation, but soon I got used to the linguistic terms used in the book.I love it.

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