Korean Alphabet

Alphabet contains 29 consonants and 21 vowels.





Consonants

There are a total of 29 consonants and they are broken down into three categories;
14 basic consonants, 5 double consonants, and 10 reformed consonants.


1. Basic Consonants (14)

g n d l / r m b s
slient / ng j ch k t p h


2. Double Consonants (5)

gg dd bb ss jj


3. Reformed Consonants (10)

gs nj nh rg rm rb rs rt rp rh




Vowels

The third line in the vowel tables is the vowel position.
Don't worry.. you will find out what vowel positions are in the second level, Foundation! :)


1. Basic Vowels (10)

a ya eo yeo o yo u yu eu i
s s s s b b b b b s


2. Reformed Vowels (11)

ae yae e ye oi ui eui
s s s s m m m
oae ue ueo oa
m m m m




FAQS



  • What's the advantage and disadvantage of having so many vowels since there are only 5 vowels in English?
  • In English, 5 vowels can be pronounced in different ways depending on which words they are used in. For example, 'banana' has three As in one word but each a sounds all different like [beo naei na].

    However, in Korean, we have so many vowels that you can write and make sound for each vowel which is really cool because you will know how to pronounce words even if it's the first time to see them!
    How many times have you had troubles to pronounce English words correctly as it's the first time to see the word? many..!
    You won't have this same problem with Korean. :) The only downside is you need to take more time to memorize all vowels at the beginner's level. but that's okay.. :)

  • Do the Korean consonants sound like English consonants?
  • Yes they do.. but they will be pronounced a bit more strongly. For example, sometime you may hear 'k' letter but it's written ㄱ (g) in Korean. Thus, often when you see Korean romanized words such as 김치(kimchi), they tended to be written for people to pronounce the words rather than the actual writing. However, if you start thinking k for Korean ㄱ (g), how can you write Korean ㅋ (k)?
    My romanization methods are made for writing purposes since I really want you to understand how to say based on looking at Korean characters rather than English romanization.

  • What does ㄹ (l / r) mean?
  • Korean consonant ㄹ can be more like l or r depending on where the consonant position is.
    When the consonant ㄹ is the first consonant in the syllable, it's pronounced more like 'l'.
    When ㄹ is the last consonant in the syllable, it's pronounced more like 'r'.
    I still want you to know that you never roll your tongue inside like English 'r'.
    You need to relax your tongue to make a sound of Korean 'r'.

  • What is exactly silent/ng for a consonant 'ㅇ'?
  • When the consonant 'ㅇ' is the first consonat in the syllable, it's slient and when it's the last consonant, it's pronounced as 'ng'.
    The reason why it could be silent is you can't break the rule of Korean syllable structure which is always starting with a consonant. (You will learn this structure in the next level, Foundation.)
    When a syllable starts with a vowel in speaking, you still need to fill a consonant to form a syllable in writing. In this case, 'ㅇ' (slient) comes in handy.

  • How do you pronounce double consonants? What's the difference with regular consonants?
  • I would say the double consonants have more tractions when you speak.
    The sound for ㄲ comes out from back of your throat.
    The sound for ㄸ has strong traction between your tongue and roof of your mouth.
    The sound for ㅃ also has strong traction between your lips and for ㅆ and ㅉ, it's between teeth.

  • I am really lost with reformed consonants. How the heck do you pronounce them?
  • Yeah.. it's even hard for me to pronounce them. Just you know.. they are only used as last consonants.
    Try to pronounce the consonants from left to right but sometimes, only one consonant can be pronounced in certain words.
    These consonants are not as common to be used so you can learn to say them as you go.

  • There are so many vowels to remember. Can you please help me how to memerize them more effectively?
  • Yes! I've thought about this and made my own methods to remember these vowels more easily.
    You will appreciate why I put vowels in the rows that way.
    In the first line of the reformed vowels, they are the same vowels from the basic vowels except that they are added with an extra vowel 'ㅣ'. However, ㅛ and ㅠ don't apply to this, and you would just have to remember the 4 vowels in the second line..
    I still hope this method helps since it's easy to extend 7 vowels from the basic ones. :)

  • Some vowels sound the same to me. How can I distinguish them?
  • Let's first find out what vowels are smilar to each other.
    The first group ㅐ and ㅔ. The second group ㅒ, ㅖ and the third group ㅚ, ㅙ, ㅞ. When you pronouce those vowels that are similar to each other, there may be a scientic explanation to distingquish them depending on your tongue position but I wouldn't really want you to worry about it. Here is why..

    For example, in English, if 'apple' is spelled as 'epple', what is the difference? A and e in those words are pronounced so similar that English speakers don't care much to make difference when speaking.
    Anther good example is 'marry' and 'merry'.

    For those Korean vowels groups, it's the same thing. However, You can distinguish them more easily in writing when you romanize English words to Korean. 'ㅐ'is more like 'a' in English vs 'ㅔ' as in 'e'.
    For example, if you romanize 'sara', I would more likely to write 새라 rather than 세라. However, romanizaiton could your preference.