Saturday, June 6, 2015

Personal Pronouns (인칭대명사)

English has an extensive list of pronouns. Korean has its own list of pronouns as well, but its usage is much limited with different usage rules. Generally speaking, pronouns are used much less in Korean than in English. In Korean, any contextually understood sentence elements, including the subject and the object, are often omitted. For instance, when two people are talking to each other, personal pronouns often drop out in normal conversations, since both speakers know who is the first person talking and who is listening. This differs from English, where the use of the pronoun or subject noun is mandatory in all situations. For instance, it would be grammatically wrong or incomplete to say “ate lunch?”

The First Person Pronoun

The Korean first person pronouns have the plain and humble forms:

* the first person pronouns
The use of either plain or humble pronouns depends on who you are talking to. It is always safe to use the humble form when you talk to adult speakers whom you do not know well. In addition, the use of humble form is normally collocated with honorific elements.

The Second Person Pronoun

The Korean second person pronouns have the plain and polite forms:

* the second person pronouns
The use of Korean second person pronoun is much more limited than that of English. For example, Koreans use 너 only when addressing a child, a childhood friend, one’s younger sibling, one’s son/daughter, and so forth. The use of 당신 is mostly used between spouses. Instead of using 당신 in actual conversation, we use professional title, honorific title, name, rank term, neutral title or ETC of them we are talking to.

The Third Person Pronoun

Strictly speaking, Korean has no true third person pronoun. Koreans use a demonstrative and a noun to refer to the third person:

그 “that,” 그 사람 “that person,” 그 분 “that esteemed person,” 그 남자 “that man” . . .

그 “that,” 그 사람 “that person,” 그 분 “that esteemed person,” 그 여자 “that lady” . . .

그들 “those,” 그 사람들 “those people,” 그 분들 “those esteemed people” . . .

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Grammar for Beginners

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