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[Review] Essential Korean Grammar


Oooh I like this!

1 sentence review: If you are looking for a decent advanced beginner – high intermediate Korean grammar guide in English, you got it!

As usual, a summary review at the bottom. Let’s go!

While I love to study Korean in Korean, I do understand the frustration that their grammar explanations aren’t very in depth and most of the time, you will find yourself wanting MORE, something like a teacher guiding you through bit by bit.

I learnt most of my beginner – intermediate grammar books via books written in English and then the advanced ones / review of intermediate ones in Korean. I find that it works best for me.

Wish I discovered this book earlier because it is what I would want.

The basics of Korean

The book skips all the Hangeul and easy stuff and go straight into the basics of Korean grammar – conjugations / particles / pronouns etc. I like that it sets a good foundation to introduce all the different grammar points later on.

It’s written in a very approachable style – like having someone at the side talk to you and guide you along.

Very structured and the book uses a lot of tables, which makes things very clear.


Grammar Points

The bulk of the book deals with grammar points and groups them up via functions.

It reads like a novel in that you have to read through the chunks of text to learn and understand the concepts, so it’s not like you can just flip to a page and very quickly get the gist (in times of revision).

I love the ample example sentences and cultural points are weaved into the prose too, making it a good read.


As mentioned earlier, this book loves conjugation tables. I find it slightly overwhelming at times so I would suggest not to read through the entire table but rather refer to it as and when you need it, to check if you are conjugating stuff correctly.


Frequently Seen Word Parts

There is a small section at the back which introduces some nice concepts and I like it! For example, they mention prefixes in words such as 풋, 외 etc, their meanings and example words!

Just the other day I learnt that 풋 means unripe and then an unripe fruit is 풋과일. But I found it really cute that 풋사랑 means… puppy love hahahaha.

Their’s a great appendix on adverbs, which I appreciate too!


All in all, this book is meant as a grammar GUIDE, which means that it’s a great reference book to reinforce the grammar concepts you’ve seen elsewhere.

The glossary allows you to use it as a grammar dictionary, but I think you can also read it as a novel of some sorts, just that it shouldn’t be your only/first source of learning grammar points. (I believe in learning from context, meaning that you should first encounter the grammar point in a passage / dialogue)

The only thing that annoys me is the romanisation, but at least it’s the kind that you can pronounce straightaway instead of some complicated system used in some other books.

The chunks of text makes it a little hard to straightaway zoom in into a detail that you need to look up, but I think it’s fine, the level of detailed explanations is what makes the book good anyway.

What I like:

  • Great, detailed explanations
  • Conjugation tables for those who need extra help
  • Many sample sentences
  • Comprehensive coverage

Not so good:

  • I didn’t like the romanisation
  • Slightly hard to pick out a detail you need about a particular grammar point without having read through the text

All in all, I recommend this! /stamps of approval HA

You can get it at Amazon or local bookstores. If you are in SG, Kinokuniya has it!

Get it at Amazon


Will be reviewing the Korean Vocabulary one next time!

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  • Reply
    21 February, 2016 at 1:17 AM

    Hi Shanna! Nice review, I look forward to the vocabulary one review, since I just got “Korean grammar for international learners” and I wanted something to complement it more on the vocabulary side. ^^

    • Reply
      26 February, 2016 at 11:02 AM

      Thanks Luci! Coming soon (:

  • Reply
    15 July, 2016 at 12:39 AM

    I just got the grammar eBook version, I agree that this book is really good.

  • Reply
    21 July, 2017 at 11:50 PM

    Hi Shanna, thank you so much for your review about this book. I would like to ask your opinion. Which one is better for a really fresh self learner (just finish learn hangeul) to learn korean grammar, between Essential Korean Grammar and TTMIK Books? Read your review too about TTMIK books. Thank you and love your blog.

  • Reply
    Grace Tan
    2 February, 2018 at 10:33 AM

    Hi Shanna
    May I know how can I buy these books n how much does it cost?

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