The Hangul Characters
|ㅎ||Consonant||H||It has a couple variations. Generally, it is like an "h" sound. If it is at the beginning of a word, it will sound like an "h".|
|ㅏ||Vowel||A||This is a vowel, and it is an "a" sound, as in father. It pretty much never varies and always has the same sound. Quite a simple character. This vowel will always be placed to the right of the first consonant. It does not fall below the consonant.|
|ㄴ||Consonant||N||is a character that usually sounds like an "n". It only has one irregular form|
|ㄱ||Consonant||G||This is a light "g" or "k" sound. Don't push the air too hard or try and make this sound too heavy, it is a light sound. Don't emphasize the character. Especially at the end of a word, this character is very light. At the end of a word, it is almost as if you don't say the character.|
|ㅡ||Vowel||U/oo||This a little harder to explain. I think the best way to say it is, it sounds like the "oo" part in "good". Let me phrase this another way... It is like a short 'u', said in the back of the mouth. It is almost like a grunt! Be sure you don't actually grunt though when you say it :) This vowel will always be placed below the first consonant. It does not fall to the right of the consonant.|
|ㄹ||Consonant||L||This character might be the most complicated character you run into! But I'll be honest, you will have it down along with all the other characters before the week is over! Think of it as either a light "l" sound, or a rolling "r" sound, depending on where it is. If it falls between two vowels, it will most likely be a rolling "r" sound. If it is at the end of a syllable, it will usually be a light "l" sound. It does not come at the beginning of a syllable of any Korean word, but will be used at the beginning for borrowed words, like loanwords. If that is the case, treat it as it needs to be in order to say the loanword properly.|
|ㅂ||Consonant||B or P||This is a common character. It will have a light "b" or "p" sound. 바 pa 밥 bap. 반 ban. At the end of a word, it will have a very light, almost unheard sound.|
|ㅁ||Consonant||M||This is a very easy character. It sounds just like an "m" sound. As simple as that. What do you think 마 would sound like? If you said ma, that's right!|
|ㅇ||Consonant||ng||I think you are ready for a very commonly used character. It has two sounds. One sound, is no sound! It makes no sound at all when it is the first consonant in the syllable. It is as simple as that. It is more like a place holder since all Korean syllables must start with a consonant. When it falls at the end of a syllable, it sounds like a light "ng" sound in "running". It is that ng sound in the back of your throat, but do not emphasis the "g" part of it. So the two sounds? No sound at the beginning of a syllable, "ng" sound at the end. Simple.|
|ㅓ||Vowel||O||This is an "o" sound. It is hard to explain, but try this. Say the letter O. Make it really really long and say it slow. Notice where your mouth starts to close in? This sound is the sound before that. The beginning of the O sound.|
Let's look at this in a different way...
Shape your mouth as if you were to say the 'o' in 'go'. Now make a sound like aw, as in awe, pawl, bawl, and law.
This vowel will always be placed to the right of the first consonant, never underneath.
|ㅗ||Vowel||O||This is another "o" sound. They sound very similar. The best I can do is say this may be more like the other side of saying O, as with the experiment before. The part toward the end in O is more like this.|
Or, think of it this way. ㅗ is like the 'o' in go, row, bow, and low.
They are very similar. Some people will be able to hear the difference if they have a good ear. Many non native speakers have the problem hearing the difference though at first.
So, for those who cannot hear the difference, When spelling and learning Korean, try to think of these are learning to spell. In English you can't always know how to spell a word, you must learn it properly. It is the same way in Korean. When words with an O sound comes up, just learn how it is spelled and leave it at that because they sound so similar.
This vowel will always appear underneath the first consonant, never to the right of it.
|ㅜ||Vowel||U||This one is easy. it is the "ou" part in you. Simple as that. "oo" in boot. This vowel always falls below the first consonant, never to the right. One vowel consisting of a horizontal line will be placed underneath the consonant, while vowels consisting of a vertical line will be placed to the right.|
|ㅣ||Vowel||EE||This character is easy as well. It is the "ee" sound in meet. An example using it would be 미. That sounds just like saying "me" in English. This vowel is placed to the right of the first consonant, never underneath.|
|ㅐ||Vowel||EA||This vowel sounds like ea in bear. The vowels are all easy if you just memorize them, and do not ever sound irregular (When could they?!?). This vowel always appears to the right of the first consonant, never underneath|
|ㅔ||Vowel||ae||This one is pretty similar to the one above. It sounds like the e in yes. The e in met. This vowel always appears to the right of the first consonant, never underneath.|
|ㅠ||Vowel||you||This sounds like saying "you" in English. You will see vowels like ㅠ, ㅑ,ㅛ,ㅕ,ㅖ ,ㅒ etc. Notice how instead of one short line, there are two ! This means that before the vowel sound, there is a y like sound.|
|ㅑ||Vowel||Ya||This sounds like saying Ya in English.|
|ㅘ||Vowel||Wa||This sounds like wa in water.|
|ㅟ||Vowel||Wee||This sounds just like the French oui. It is more or less like wee.|
|ㅢ||Vowel||I have chosen to include this one for a special reason. It works just like the others, except if it comes after a consonant, you only hear ㅣand not the other part. It is just how it sounds when spoken. At the beginning of a syllable, you do run the two together however.|
|ㅅ||Consonant||S/SH||This is a consonant that sounds like an s in English. It is a very light s and isn't stressed or anything. Also, before the Korean vowel ㅣ, like 시, it is usually pronounced like an sh, or for this example, shee. At the end of a word or before a syllable that begins with a vowel or consonant other than ㅅ, it ends with a light d sound. You will find many consonants sound like a light d sound if they are at the end of a word.|
|ㄷ||Consonant||D/T||Speaking of light d sounds, here it is. This is a light d or t sound. 맏 sounds like mat, with a very light t sound at the end. So does 맛 however. See what I mean by ㅅ sounding like a light d sound at the end? 맛 is not mas. It is mat.|
|ㅈ||Consonant||J||This is a light j sound in between vowels. At the beginning of the word, it is often heard as a "ch" sound instead. At the end of a word, it sounds just like an ㅅ and a ㄷ.|
|ㅋ||Consonant||KHA||This is like kha. It is similar to the ㄱ sound, except is said with more air. More towards a K sound.|
|ㅌ||Consonant||T||This is a t sound, much like ㄷ, except said with more air to it!|
|ㅊ||Consonant||CHA||This is a cha sound. Always. It is similar to the ㅈ sound, except said with more air to it. Always a cha sound, never a j sound ( ㅈ sounds like a j between vowels,ㅊ sounds like a cha between vowels.)|
|ㅍ||Consonant||P||This is the last consonant, and last character you will learn in Hangul! It has an airy P sound to it. Similar to ㅂ but with more air.|