Saturday, January 29, 2005

What are the 7 basic Korean sentence patterns?

I am reading a book that claims there are seven basic Korean sentence patterns. Those patterns are as follows:

  1. 주어 + 완전 자동사

    지구가 돈다.
    아이들이 논다.
    물이 흐른다.
    꽃이 핀다.
    짐승들이 모인다.

  2. 주어 + 보어 + 불완전 자동사

    시골이 도시가 된다.
    물이 얼음이 된다.
    철수가 의사가 된다.

  3. 주어 + 목적어 + 타동사

    아이가 젖을 먹는다.
    학생이 노래를 부른다.
    사람이 소를 부린다.

  4. 주어 + 여(탈)격 조사 + 목적어 + 불완전 타동사

    형이 아우에게 책을 준다.
    아우가 형에게서책을 받는다.
    스승이 제자에게 은혜를 베푼다.
    제자가 스승께 은혜를 갚는다.

  5. 주어 + 완전 형용사

    경치가 아름답다.
    산이 높다.
    곰은 미련하다.
    소금은 짜다.

  6. 주어 + 보어 + 불완전 형용사

    세균은 동물이 아니다.
    그 괴한이 도둑임이 틀림없다.
    갑이 을보다 낫다.
    을이 갑만 못하다.

  7. 주어 + (체언 + 서술격 조사)

    이것은 꽃이다.
    저것은 나무다.

Here is what the author had to say about the above patterns:

이와 같은 일곱 유형에 종결 · 연결 · 전성(轉成)의 서법(敍法)과, 사동 · 피동의 태(態), 과거 · 과거 회상 · 현재 · 미래의 시제(時制), 다양한 수식법과 우리말의 특유한 존대법을 적절히 적용하면 아무리 복잡하고 다양한 생각도 완벽하게 표현할 수 있다. 이를 잘 익혀 바르게 쓰지 못하고 섣불리 외국어 표현 형식을 흉내 내서 우리말의 우수한 특성을 해치는 짓은 하지 말자.

If we add to the above seven patterns the appropriate endings, conjunctions, or derivatives of mood; causative or passive voice; past, reflective, present, or future tense; any of the various modifiers and the special honorifics used in our language, then we can fully express any of a variety of thoughts, no matter how complicated. Let's become familiar with these patterns and use them correctly, and stop degrading the superior aspects of our language by carelessly imitating the styles of expressions used in foreign languages.

Why have I mentioned the seven basic sentence patterns? Well, I was planning to talk about the following sentence, but have decided to put it off for another time:
나는 어머니보다도 그녀와 같이 다니는 것이 더욱 즐거웠다.


  1. Blinger,

    "우리가 정말 알아야 할 '우리말 바로 쓰기'" by 이수열Here is an article about the author:

    "[사람속으로] 우리말 지킴이 이수열"By the way, if you go to this site, 한터21 한겨례신문사문화센터, and choose to listen to the free lecture, 강좌맛보기, Mr. Lee addresses an issue we previously discussed in this forum.

    Mr. Lee says that -ㄴ다 and 는다 are the present continuous tense in Korean, and that the -고 있다 structure was introduced from English. He says that it is not wrong, but that it is not original Korean. As an example, he says, "그래서 '온다'고 그랬지 우리 할아버지들이 "오고 있다"는 그런 말을 안 했어요." He adds, "그래서 병신스러워지는 거에요, 우리 말이. 좋아지는 게 아니라."

  2. Gerry,
    You are clearly miles ahead of me in Korean ability. I could not even begin to read that article.

  3. I have been playing with Korean, off and on, for almost thirty years, so I should know something about it by now. Nevertheless, relative to the time we have both put into the language, it is very likely you are ahead of me.

    Even after almost thirty years of studying Korean, I still have a hard time understanding much of what is said on Korean comedy programs. I have gotten pretty good at understanding Korean news, but there are still certain reports that lose me.

    Korean is so complicated that I usually get a little suspicious of people who claim they have become fluent in the language with less than ten years of study. It may be possible if the person lives in Korea for the entire ten years, is socially active, systematically studies the language everyday, and is much smarter than me, which is not than big of requirement; otherwise, I think it would be difficult.

    As for the article, Mr. Lee was complaining about the unKorean-like writing style used in the Korean constitution and by politicians and other educated Koreans. In particular, he said that the overuse of such words and affixes as 갖다 and 의 were polluting the Korean language. He said that the main culprits for the pollution were Korea's "ignorant intellectuals" (무식한 지식인).

    Mr. Lee was born the son of a woodcutter in 1928. He finished only elementary school, but passed the examination to receive a teaching certificate in 1944 and worked as an educator for forty-eight years, until his retirement in 1993.

    I have three of Mr. Lee's books, but have only had the time to occasionally browse through them. After I finish the book I am currently reading, I plan to start reading one of the three.

    I like Mr. Lee's views, especially his view concerning Korea's "ignorant intellectuals." Koreans need to start paying more attention to how they speak and write their language.

  4. Self-styled keepers of tradition leave me suspicious.

  5. Anonymous,

    What makes you think Mr. Lee is self-styled? Have you read any of his books? Consider the following:

    A: 여야 대표 모임을 갖고....

    B: 여야 대표가 만나서....

    Which one of the sentences is shorter; which one has a subject?

    From what I have read, Mr. Lee justifies everything he says.

  6. Jerry, can I use these on

    I will give you a link back (presumably 7 links) for each time I use your examples on my site.

    I'm being polite and asking you if it's okay with you ....

  7. Joseph,

    I copied the sample sentences from 이수열's book, "우리말 바로 쓰기," so I do not have the right to give permission, but I do not think he would mind. Maybe you could just let people know they came from his book.

  8. Hi Gerry, nice meeting you. I am Koran who is living in the US, and I appreciate your appreciation of Korean.

  9. koreantranslatorinterpreterAugust 28, 2011 at 9:17:00 PM CDT

    Sorry about the spelling mistake. It was supposed to Korean, not Koran of course:-).

  10. "Even after almost thirty years of studying Korean, I still have a hard time understanding much of what is said on Korean comedy programs. I have gotten pretty good at understanding Korean news, but there are still certain reports that lose me."

    This is just sad. Thirty years for something that should take no more than three. I started at age 42 and was fluent by the time I reached 45. I really don't understand why people have such a hard time with this.

  11. Raymond,

    There are different levels of fluency, but I think it is possible to get fairly fluent in Korean with just three years of hard study, especially now that students have much better textbooks, better language programs, computer-aided instruction, and the Internet. We did not have the resources students have today when I was studying Korean at Yonsei Korean Language Institute in 1982. Back then, it was commonly believed that a person would need, at least, 5 years of hard study to become fairly fluent in the language.

    To understand comedy programs and TV news reports, you need to keep up with current events and popular culture, which I did not follow very diligently. Nevertheless, if you can understanding comedy programs and TV news reports after just three years of study, I would consider you exceptional. However,considering your claim of fluency, I am a little surprised you did not post in Korean. Is you fluency limited only to speaking and listening?


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