Korean Topic Marker Short Forms (Contractions)

Korean Topic Marker Short Forms (Contractions)


 

In speech and informal writing, Korean uses short forms, also called contractions. The most common short forms occur with markers (particles): topic marker (topic particles), subject marker (subject particles), and object marker (object particles). All of these contractions are optional, but they’re used very frequently. You don’t need to push yourself to use them, but you should be able to understand and recognize them in real-life conversation.


*If you’re confused by the concepts of topic marker (topic particle) and subject marker (subject particle), please refer to these posts. They‘ll help you.

[Basic] Topic Marker 은[eun]/는[neun] vs. Subject Marker 이[i]/가[ga]

[Advanced] Topic Marker 은[eun]/는[neun] vs. Subject Marker 이[i]/가[ga]


In this post, we’re going to learn the topic marker short forms. 

 

1. Topic Marker 는 [neun] Short Forms

NounTopic Marker Short Form
=
=
=

These three occur the most. Sometimes topic markers (topic particles) become just ㄴ if the word coming after it ends in a vowel. Since 저, 나, and 너 all end with a vowel, this usage became popular.

 

1) 저는 [jeoneun] → 전 [jeon]

저는 괜찮아요. [jeoneun gwenchanayo]  전 괜찮아요. [jeon gwenchanayo]

I’m okay.

  • 저 [jeo]: I (polite)
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 괜찮다 [gwenchanta]: okay, alright

 

2) 나는 [naneun] → 난 [nan]

나는 먼저 갈게. [naneun meonjeo galge]  난 먼저 갈게. [nan meonjeo galge]

I’ll go first.

  • 나 [na]: I (casual)
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 먼저 [meonjeo]: first
  • 가다 [gada]: to go

 

3) 너는 [neoneun] → 넌 [neon]

너는 언제 올거야? [neoneun eonje olgeoya]  넌 언제 올거야? [neon eonje olgeoya]

When will you come?

  • 너 [neo]: you (casual)
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 언제 [eonje]: when
  • 오다 [oda]: to come

 

NounTopic Marker Short Form
여기=여긴
거기=거긴
저기=저긴

4) 여기는 [yeogineun] → 여긴 [yeogin]

여기는 강남이에요. [yeogineun gangnamieyo] → 여긴 강남이에요. [yeogin gangnamieyo]

Here is Gangnam.

  • 여기 [yeogi]: here
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 강남 [gangnam]: Gangnam

 

5) 거기는 [geogineun] → 거긴 [geogin]

거기는 제주도예요. [geogineun jejudoyeyo] → 거긴 제주도예요. [geogin jejudoyeyo]

That is Jeju Island.

  • 거기 [geogi]: there
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 제주도 [jejudo]: Jeju Island

 

6) 저기는 [jeogineun] → 저긴 [jeogin]

저기는 어디예요? [jeogineun eodiyeyo] → 저긴 어디예요? [jeogin eodiyeyo]

Where is that over there?

  • 저기 [jeogi]: over there
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 어디 [eodi]: where

 

*One tip: 에는 → 엔

This is a combination of location marker (location particle) 에 and topic marker 는 to become 엔. This short form is a bit more casual, though, so I don’t recommend using it in any formal situation.

NounLocation MarkerTopic Marker Short Form
서울=서울엔
미국=미국엔

 

7) 서울에는 [seoureneun] → 서울엔 [seouren]

서울에는 왜 왔어요? [seoureneun we wasseoyo] → 서울엔 왜 왔어요? [seouren we wasseoyo]

Why did you come to Seoul?

  • 서울 [seoul]: Seoul, the capital of Korea
  • 에 [e]: to, at, in (location markers/location particles)
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 왜 [we]: why
  • 오다 [oda]: to come

 

8) 미국에는 [migugeneun] → 미국엔 [migugen]

미국에는 왜 갔어요? [migugeneun we gasseoyo] → 미국엔 왜 갔어요? [migugen we gasseoyo]

Why did you go to the U.S?

  • 미국 [miguk]: USA
  • 에 [e]: to, at, in (location marker/location particles)
  • 는 [neun]: (vowel +) topic marker
  • 왜 [we]: why
  • 가다 [oda]: to go

 

2. Topic Marker 은 [eun] Short Forms

NounTopic Marker Short Form
이것=이건
그것=그건
저것=저건

Please note that 이건, 그건 and 저건 are actually contracted forms of 이것, 그것, 저것, and the topic marker 은.

 

1) 이것은 [igeoseun] → 이건 [igeon]

이것은 뭐예요? [igeoseun mweoyeyo] → 이건 뭐예요? [igeon mweoyeyo]

What’s this?

  • 이것 [igeot]: this
  • 은 [eun]: (consonant +) topic marker
  • 뭐 [mweo]: what

 

2) 그것은 [geugeoseun] → 그건 [geugeon]

그것은 책이에요. [geugeoseun chegiyeyo] → 그건 책이에요. [geugeon chegiyeyo]

That is a book.

  • 그것 [geugeot]: that
  • 은 [eun]: (consonant +) topic marker
  • 책 [chek]: book

 

3) 저것은 [jeogeoseun] → 저건 [jeogeon]

저것은 뭐예요? [jeogeoseun mweoyeyo] → 저건 뭐예요? [jeogeon mweoyeyo]

What’s that over there?

  • 저것 [jeogeot]: that over there
  • 은 [eun]: (consonant +) topic marker
  • 뭐 [mweo]: what

 

♥ Recommended posts for you

Korean Subject Markers 이: Contractions & Colloquialisms

Korean Object Markers /: Contractions & Colloquialisms

 

Reference:

  1. Choo Miho, O’Grady William. The Sounds Of Korean. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press; 2003.
  2. Im H, Hong K, Chang S. Korean Grammar For International Learners. Seoul, Korea: Yonsei University Press; 2007.
  3. Choo Miho, Kwak Hye-Young. Using Korean: A Guide to Contemporary Usage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2008.
  4. Korean/Demonstrative pronouns – Wikibooks, open books for an open world. Enwikibooksorg. 2016. Available at: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Korean/Demonstrative_pronouns. Accessed November 4, 2016.