Lesson 2 - Learn More Hangul ...

The Hangul Characters

ConsonantHIt 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".
VowelAThis 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.
ConsonantNis a character that usually sounds like an "n". It only has one irregular form
ConsonantGThis 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.
VowelU/ooThis 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.
ConsonantLThis 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.
ConsonantB or PThis 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.
ConsonantMThis 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!
ConsonantngI 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.
VowelOThis 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.
VowelOThis 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.
VowelUThis 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.
VowelEEThis 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.
VowelEAThis 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
VowelaeThis 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.
VowelyouThis 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.
VowelYaThis sounds like saying Ya in English.
VowelWaThis sounds like wa in water.
VowelWeeThis sounds just like the French oui. It is more or less like wee.
VowelI 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.
ConsonantS/SHThis 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.
ConsonantD/TSpeaking 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.
ConsonantJThis 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.
ConsonantKHAThis is like kha. It is similar to the ㄱ sound, except is said with more air. More towards a K sound.
ConsonantTThis is a t sound, much like ㄷ, except said with more air to it!
ConsonantCHAThis 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.)
ConsonantPThis 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.

Lesson 01 - Basics of Hangul (Korean Alphabets)

Hangul is an alphabet, just like the Roman alphabet English speakers use. The only two differences are Hangul blocks syllables (as we read in the first post - Introduction to Korean), and there are no lowercase or capitalize letters in Hangul. The letter is always written the same, no matter when it is used.

Characters will be stacked into squares to form each syllable. For example ㅎ, ㅏ, and ㄴ are three separate characters. But, as they would form one syllable, they would be written 한 instead of ㅎ ㅏ ㄴ.

ㅎ + ㅏ + ㄴ= 한

want another example?

ㄱ + ㅡ + ㄹ = 글

We then combine syllables to form words, just as we do in English.

한 + 글 = 한글

Recognize that word? That's right! It's Hangul . It consists of han (한) and gul (글).

 Two syllables. Six characters. As you begin to learn all the different characters, you will see how to construct the syllables properly depending on which character you are using. Just keep this one thing in mind. Every Korean word, syllable, anything...begins with a consonant. A vowel will always follow it, either positioned to the right of it, or below it. With each vowel, I will tell you where it should be positioned. Also, there will be 2,3, or rarely 4 characters in a syllable. 한 is one way of stacking, having the vowel to the right of the first consonant, with the third character under those two. 글 is the other main way of stacking, where the vowel falls below the first consonant, with the third character below the second. A third character will always fall on the bottom. You will never have three characters in a row on the top. I cannot even type an example for you to see, it just can't be done. Below is a table of the characters you will see.

Basic Expressions in Korean Language


Good morning.
Good afternoon.
Good evening.
안녕하십니까? (F)
Annyong haseyo?
Annyong hashimnikka? (F)
(to person leaving)
안녕히 가세요.
안녕히 가십시오. (F)
Annyonghi kasayo.
Annyonghi kashipshiyo. (F)
(to person staying)
안녕히 계세요.
안녕히 계십시오. (F)
Annyonghi kyesayo.
Annyonghi kyeshipshiyo. (F)
Good night. 안녕히 주무십시요. (F) Annyonghi jumushipsiyo. (F)
How do you do?
(meeting for the first time)
처음 뵙겠습니다. (F) Ch'oum poepgetsumnida. (F)
My name is _____. 저는 ___ 입니다. (F) Chonun ______ imnida. (F)
How are you? 어떠십니까? (F) Ottoshimnikka? (F)
(on the phone)
여보세요? Yoboseyo?
Do you speak English? 영어를 할수 있어요? Yeongeorul malsum halsu isseoyo?

Basic Expressions

Yes. 네. Ne.
No. 아니요. Aniyo.
Thank you. 감사합니다. (F) Kamsahamnida. (F)
I am sorry. 미안합니다. (F) Mianhamnida. (F)

Introduction to KOREAN

Korean (한국어/조선말, see below) is the official language of both North and South Korea. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China. Worldwide, there are about 80 million Korean speakers, with large groups in various Post-Soviet states, as well as China, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Japan, and more recently, South Africa and the Philippines.

The genealogical classification of the Korean language is debated. Many linguists place it in the Altaic language family, but some consider it to be a language isolate. It is agglutinative in its morphology and SOV in its syntax. Similar to the Japanese and Vietnamese languages, Korean language was influenced by the Chinese language in the form of Sino-Korean words. Native Korean words account for about 35% of the Korean vocabulary, while about 60% of the Korean vocabulary consists of Sino-Korean words. The remaining 5% comes from loan words from other languages, 90% of which are from English


The Korean names for the language are based on the names for Korea used in North and South Korea.

In North Korea and Yanbian in China, the language is most often called Chosŏnmal (조선말; with Hanja: 朝鮮말), or more formally, Chosŏnŏ (조선어; 朝鮮語).

In South Korea, the language is most often called Hangungmal (한국말; 韓國말), or more formally, Hangugeo (한국어; 韓國語) or Gugeo (국어; 國語; literally "national language"). It is sometimes colloquially called Urimal ("our language"; 우리말 in one word in South Korea, 우리 말 with a space in North Korea).

On the other hand, Korean people in the former USSR, who refer to themselves as Koryo-saram (also Goryeoin [고려인; 高麗人; literally, "Goryeo person(s)"]) call the language Goryeomal (고려말; 高麗말).


The Korean language is classified as a member of the Ural-Altaic family (other members of this family include the Mongolian, Finnish, and Hungarian languages.) Until the early 1400s, most documents were written in classical Chinese characters (known in Korean as Hanja). As the idiographs are difficult to learn, only the educated people could read and write. King Sejong, the 4th ruler of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), set up a special committee of scholars in 1443 to create a new writing system specifically suited to the Korean language.

The result was Hangul (meaning 'the one script'). It originally contained 28 symbols, although 4 have dropped out of use. The alphabet has 10 vowels and 14 consonants. The consonants represent the simplified outlines of the parts of the mouth and tongue used to pronounce them. The vowels are associated with elements of the philosophy of the Book of Changes.

In 1994, Discovery magazine described Hangul as the most logical language writing system in the world. The simplicity of Hangul led Korea to become one of the most literate countries in the world. U.S. novelist Pearl Buck said that Hangul is the simplest writing system in the world and likened King Sejong to Leonardo da Vinci. Even though Hangul is a system of phonetic symbols, it is categorized as new level of feature system, the first and the only in the world. On Oct. 1, 1997, UNESCO designated Hunminjeongeum as world archive property. Koreans commemorate the creation of Hangul each year on October 9.


Before you begin learning the language, you should take some time to practice writing Hangul.

The symbols are combined into blocks, each one representing a single syllable. Each syllable must start with a consonant, although the iung is silent in the initial position. Text is arranged either in the traditional vertical fashion, with columns reading from right to left (as in some newspapers and old books) or in rows reading left to right (as in most modern novels and magazines). The alphabet may appear complicated, but it is actually easy to learn. Once you are familiar with the characters, looking up words in a dictionary becomes easy.

When speaking Korean, you use formal or informal words and phrases, depending on the status of the person to whom you are talking. For example, you generally use informal speech to children and formal speech to older people. It is better to err by being too formal rather than showing disrespect. However, Koreans do not expect foreigners to be fluent and will usually excuse minor mistakes.