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Hangul/Hangeul- The Korean Alphabet

Hangul contains 19 consonants: ㄱ, ㄲ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄸ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅃ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅇ, ㅈ, ㅉ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ
8 vowels: ㅏ, ㅓ, ㅗ, ㅜ, ㅡ, ㅣ, ㅐ, ㅔ
and 13 diphthongs: ㅑ, ㅕ, ㅛ, ㅠ, ㅒ, ㅖ, ㅘ, ㅙ, ㅚ, ㅝ, ㅞ, ㅟ, ㅢ

Simple/plain consonants include:

  • ㄱ (기역/giyeok)- non-tensed, non-aspirated /k/g/ as in “took
  • ㄴ (니은/nieun)- /n/ as in “moon
  • ㄷ (디귿/tigeut)- non-tensed, non-aspirated /t/d/ as in “cattle”
  • ㄹ (리을/rieul)- /r/l/ as in “lollipop”
  • ㅁ (미음/mieum)- /m/ as in “moss”
  • ㅂ (비읍/bieup)- non-tensed, non-aspirated /p/b/ as in “baby”
  • ㅅ (시옷/shiot)- non-tensed /s/ as in “sad” or /sh/ as in “sheet”
  • ㅇ (이응/ieung)- nasal /ng/ as in “sang
  • ㅈ (지읒/jieut)- non-tensed, non-aspirated /j/ as in “juice”

Tense/double consonants include:

  • ㄲ (쌍기역/ssang giyeok)- tensed /kk/gg/ as in “sky”
  • ㄸ (쌍디귿/ssang tigeut)- tensed /tt/dd/ as in “stop”
  • ㅃ (쌍비읍/ssang bieup)- tensed /pp/bb/ as in “bad”
  • ㅆ (쌍시옷/ssang shiot)- tensed /ss/ as in “sang”
  • ㅉ (쌍지읒/ssang jieut)- tensed /jj/

Aspirated consonants include:

  • ㅊ (치읓/chieut)- aspirated /ch/ as in “cheat”
  • ㅋ (키읔/kieuk)- aspirated /k/ as in “king”
  • ㅌ (티읕/tieut)- aspirated /t/ as in “tell”
  • ㅍ (피읖/pieup)- aspirated /p/ as in “pull”
  • ㅎ (히읗/hieut)- h as in “hot”

Vowels include:

  • ㅏ (아/a)- /a/ as in “father”
  • ㅓ (어/eo)- /eo/ as in “top”
  • ㅗ (오/o)- rounded /o/ as in “note”
  • ㅜ (우/u)- rounded /u/ as in “moon”
  • ㅡ (으/eu)- /eu/ similar to “look”
  • ㅣ (이/i)- /i/ as in “key
  • ㅐ (애/ae)- /a/ as in “at”
  • ㅔ (에/e)- /e/ as in “yes”

If there is no consonant before a vowel, you must always put ㅇ before it. ㅇ may only appear at the beginning or end of a syllable; if it is placed at the beginning, it must come before a vowel and is silent, while if it is placed at the end, it is pronounced as /ng/.

Also, 애 and 에 are very similar in pronunciation. In everyday speech, they can be difficult to tell apart. If you pronounce them the same or interchange them in speech, the listener will usually be able to understand you.

Diphthongs include:

  • ㅑ (야/ya)- /ya/ as in “yard”
  • ㅒ (얘/yae)- /ya/ as in “yak”
  • ㅕ (여/yeo)- /yeo/
  • ㅖ (예/ye)- /ye/ as in “yes”
  • ㅘ (와/wa)- /wa/ as in “wash”
  • ㅙ (왜/wae)- /wa/ as in “wag”
  • ㅚ (외/we)- /we/ as in “weight”
  • ㅛ (요/yo)- rounded /yo/ as in “yoke”
  • ㅝ (워/weo)- /weo/
  • ㅞ (웨/we)- /we/ as in “wet”
  • ㅟ (위/wi)- /we/ as in “we
  • ㅠ (유/yu)- /you/ as in “you
  • ㅢ (의/eui)- /eui/ as in “gooey”

A diphthong is a combination of vowels in a single syllable. Diphthongs may also be classified as vowels.

Grammar Tips and Review~

Now that you’ve gotten a grasp on what the Korean alphabet sounds and looks like, let’s try putting the individual characters together and begin making syllables!

When writing in 한글 (han geul), the most simple way to create syllables and words is by adding a basic consonant and basic vowel together. For example, the word “가” (ga) meaning “go” is:

가 (ga) = simple consonant ㄱ(g) + simple vowel아(a).

This same rule applies when writing words with double consonants. For example, the syllable “까” (gga) is:

까 (gga) = double consonant ㄲ(gg/kk) + simple vowel 아(a).

The same method also applies when writing with compound vowels. For example, word “귀” (gwi) meaning “ear” is:

귀 (gwi) = simple consonant ㄱ(g) + compound vowel 위(wi).

*When writing vowels, you’ll notice that each vowel when written alone is written with an “ㅇ” consonant attached either to the left or top of the vowel (ex: 아/오/우). This is the proper way of writing, and all vowels when written alone are written in this format.

Therefore, “ㅏ”, “ㅓ”, and “ㅗ” simply become “아”, “어”, and “오”. Again, the “ㅇ” consonant makes no sound when placed at the beginning of a syllable, and thus the sound between “ㅏ”(a) and “아”(a) remains the same. This rule also applies to compound vowels (ex: 위, 웨). Always write vowels following this rule unless a different consonant is being used.

This is very helpful to remember when creating different combinations of consonants and vowels together. When writing different syllables and words, simply replace the “ㅇ” with the desired letter.

For example:
ㄱ(g) + 아(a) = 가 (ga)
ㅅ(s) + 오(o) = 소 (so)

For a final note: remember that consonants are either found on the left, or top side of any given syllable or word, while vowels are always written on the left or bottom of a given syllable or word.

Practice your skills by putting different combinations of consonants and vowels together!

Hope this helps, and happy studying!~

The Korean Alphabet: Double Consonants

One unique aspect of the Korean alphabet is the concept of having “double consonants”. The proper name for these special letters is 쌍 (ssang) consonants, meaning “two”, or “double”. Typically, 쌍 consonants tend to have a “sharper” or “harder” sound than single consonants. Luckily, there are only 5 consonants in the Korean alphabet that can “double up”, and they’re really easy to learn!

Let’s take a look~

1. ㄲ (gg/kk)
If one ㄱ makes a soft ‘guh’ sound, then two ㄱ consonants make a hard sound. Imagine saying ‘gum’, and put extra emphasis on the ‘g’ (ggum!)

2. ㄸ (dd)
If one ㄷ makes a soft ‘duh’ sound, two ㄷ consonants make a hard sound. This time, imagine saying 'duck’, and put extra emphasis on the ’d’ (dduck!)

3. ㅃ (bb)
Applying what we know from the first few examples, we now know that two ㅂ consonants makes a hard 'buh’ sound. Try saying 'boat’ and put extra emphasis on the 'b’ (bboat!)

4. ㅆ (ss)
Two ㅅ (s) consonants make a sharp ’s’ sound. For this one, it’s helpful to think of a snake that goes “ss!”

5. ㅉ (jj)
Two ㅈ (j) consonants make a hard 'j’ sound. Try saying the word 'jump’ and add extra emphasis on the 'j’ (jjump!)

Pretty easy right? These are probably a bit more challenging to get a hold of, but practice makes perfect! Hope this helps and happy studying!~

I’ve been good to my word. Here is your New Years Yang! I’ll be coloring in the near future but for now I’ll give you the black and white version.