Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about whether the Korean nouns are countable or uncountable. Most nouns can be used to represent both singular and plural. In other words, the Korean language does not have a grammatical category of number.
For instance, “one student” is “한 학생 [han hakseng]” and “two students” is “두 학생 [du hakseng]” in Korean language. Notice that the noun “학생 [hakseng] (student)” does not undergo any change in form.
Consider the following sentence 책과 연필이 있어요 [chek-gwa yeonpi-li isseoyo] as well. The translation of this sentence can be fourfold as shown.
책과 연필이 있어요.
[check-gwa yeonpi-li isseoyo]
① I’ve got a book, and a pencil.
② I’ve got some books, and a pencil.
③ I’ve got a book, and some pencils.
④ I’ve got some books, and some pencils.
As you can see above, if it is not necessary to specify that the number is more than one, the plural marker (plural particle) is left out.
However, if you really want to emphasize something is plural, add the Korean plural marker (Korean plural particle) “들 [deul]“ at the end of the word.
- – 들 with nouns
새 [se] bird → 새들 [sedeul] birds
학생 [hakseng] student → 학생들 [haksengdeul] students
사람 [saram] person → 사람들 [saramdeul] people
- -들 with pronouns
Koreans can optionally add 들 at the end of the pronouns, including even those which are already plural. Of course, it may sound redundant. Again, such usage is for adding emphasis.
우리 [u-li], 우리들 [u-lideul] we
저희 [jeohi] , 저희들 [jeohideul] we (humble)
너희 [neohi], 너희들 [neohideul] you all (intimate)
- -들 with adverbs and connectives
들 can be attached to adverbs and some connectives to indicate the plurality of the subject noun.
하와이로 신혼 여행을 많이들 가요.
[hawai-lo shinhon yeoheng-eul manideul gayo]
Many people go to Hawaii on their honeymoon.
Please (you all) wait here.
가겠다고들 하지만 갈지 모르겠어요.
[gagettagodeul hajiman galji moreugeseeyo]
They say they’ll go, but I’m not sure if they will.
Keep in mind Korean nouns, unlike English nouns, do not always require that their number be marked. I hope this post helps you improve your Korean skills!
- You Clare, Cho Eunsu. Intermediate College Korean. Berkeley: University of California Press; 2002.
- Korean.arts.ubc.ca. The Plural Marker. 2015. Available at: http://www.korean.arts.ubc.ca/b_tb/tb_06/L6-2-8.htm. Accessed November 26, 2015.
- Amen Henry J, Park K, Padrón A. Korean For Beginners. North Clarendon: Tuttle publishing; 2010.
- Byon Andrew. Basic Korean : A Grammar and Workbook. London: Routledge; 2009.