Subject marker: –이/가
As mentioned in Lesson 1, Korean is an agglutinating language. It means that Korean uses little grammatical devices attached to words to specify their roles in a sentence. English is not an agglutinating language, employing rather a fixed word order and prepositions in order to specify the role of each part.
A subject of a sentence is the agent (doer) of the action described by the sentence. Assuming that a state of being can also be treated as an action, a subject can take any kind of predicate, i.e., a verbal, an adjectival, or a nominal predicate. Think of “S goes,” “S is bad,” and “S is a man.” In each case, S is the subject. To mark this subject, Korean attaches either 이 or 가 to it. -이 is used when the subject word ends without a final consonant (patch’im), whereas -가 is for those ending without a final consonant.
Only nouns can be subjects in Korean, such is the case in English. In other words, when you see a part of a sentence attached with -이 or -가, you will know that it must be a noun. However, you might hear sometimes people say sentences without using subject markers -이/가 for subjects. It is because the sentences were simple and a conversational reality is presumed. For these sentences, subject markers can be replaced by a short pause. In sentences the structure of which is complex, or in written forms, the markers should be specified.
Now, let’s look at some more examples.
|가||편안해요.||These pants are comfortable.|
|가||와요.||The train is coming.|
|이||웃으세요.||The teacher is laughing.|
|이||학교이에요.||That (over there) is a school.|
|이||곰이예요.||This is a bear.|
Use the following pairs of words to make sentences in mid-poite style. Don’t forget to use subject markers, and to translate each sentence, as given in the above examples.
|1.||이 사람 (this person)||친구 (friend)|
|2.||장미 (rose)||비싸다 (to be expensive)|
|3.||물 (water)||차다 (to be cold)|
|4.||나무 (tree)||좋다 (to be good)|
|5.||저 사람 (that person)||건강하다 (to be healthy)|
|6.||돈 (money)||많다 (to be many/much)|
|8.||이것 (this [thing])||모자 (hat; cap)|
|9.||여기 (here; this place)||학교|
|10.||바지||작다 (to be small)|
|11.||공부 (studying)||싫다 (to be dislikable)|
|12.||차 (car)||오다 (to come)|
|13.||친구||일하다 (to work)|
|14.||집 (home)||어디 (where)|
|15.||저 사람||누구 (who)|
|16.||책 (book)||싸다 (to be cheap)|
|18.||이 컴퓨터 (this computer)||괜찮다 (to be okay)|
|19.||동생 (a younger sibling)||자다 (to sleep)|