The Korean Alphabet
Anyone who is passionate about South Korea, will find themselves wanting to learn the language, surely the first step from which we must pass is to learn to read the hangul (한글), the Korean alphabet. I’ve talked about how and how not to learn Korean here!
Let’s get to work immediately and learn to then to read the vowels, the consonants and all the sounds that are to learn to start reading the hangŭl!
Please note: I will explain the alphabet in order to, hopefully, make it easier to understand.
Learning to read Korean will only take you some days, if not only couple of hours and if you already know Hangul, then this will be a good review!
This Korean characters chart is the list of the hangul vowels in Korean, with the romanized hangul reading.
The are basic vowels and the rest are vowel combination.
You can make more vowel sounds just by combining basic vowels.
This chart is about the Korean character list of consonants in Korean with their similar sounds in English and also their names.
Korean consonants don’t sound exactly the same as English consonants; for example, the romanization of ㄱ is ‘g’ but the actual sound is like between g and k.
Here’s the list of consonants that might confuse you:
- ㄱ (g): It sounds between g and k in English.
- ㄴ (n): It sounds between n and d in English.
- ㄷ (d): It sounds between d and t in English.
- ㅂ (b): It sounds between b and p in English.
- ㅈ (j): It sounds between n and d in English.
The consonantㅇ has no sound if it comes as the initial consonant for example, 아 is ㅇ (silent) + ㅏ (a) so it sounds ‘a’ but when it comes as the final consonant, it sounds like ‘ng’.
Let’s take as an example the word 영 that means zero.
The firstㅇ is silent while the secondㅇsound ‘ng’.
Consonant + Vowel
Forming a Korean letter using the consonants and the vowels is very easy; you form hangul letters by putting them into a square shape and that’s a Korean syllable but there are, of coure, some rules:
- If the vowel has a long vertical line, like ㅏ, ㅑ, ㅓ, ㅕ, or ㅣ, the consonant comes in on the left half, and the vowel comes in on the right half.
- ㅂ + ㅣ = 비
- ㅇ + ㅏ = 아
- ㄱ + ㅓ = 거
- If the vowel has a long horizontal line, like ㅗ, ㅛ, ㅜ, ㅠ, or ㅡ, the consonant comes in on the upper half, and the vowel comes in on the lower half.
- 부 + ㄹ = 불
- 아 + ㄴ = 안
- 조 + ㅇ = 종
So… that’s all you need to know about Hangul!
I know, it may looks a little complicated but if you understand how it works, you will learn it in a short time.
There books and apps that I reccomend you in order to learn Hangul better, faster and also exercise.
Korean Handwriting Plus
This app is my favorite. I had the lite version but decided to upgrade it to the full version for $2.99.
You start with consonants, then vowels and you move through the basic steps of forming sounds and words.
At the end, you should know quite a few words and phrases along with the alphabet!
Korean 123 Read Write Practice
Fantastic app that not only has Hangul but introduces numbers in both systems ( Koreans use two counting systems: native Korean and sino Korean) and when you trace a number it will pronounce both versions.
And that’s all!
I hope this post was useful and do not forget to read also the other posts from the Learning Korean series:
- How and How NOT To Learn Korean;
- The Korean Alfabet;
- Korean Pronunciation;
- Basic Korean Sentences;
- Korean Particles 이/가;
- Korean Verbs/Adjectives.