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Keys for Writers, Second Edition
Ann Raimes
ESL Tip Sheet 6: Korean

Spoken in North and South Korea.

The written language
  • In South Korea, many loan words from Chinese are used. In the North, Chinese characters have been abolished from instruction in schools.
  • Uses general formulaic expressions such as "Some people say" rather than specific citations when the writer takes a stand. 2b.
  • Korean alphabet has forty letters, on the principle of one letter per unit of sound.
Sentence structure and word order
  • Usual pattern is S-O-V, with verb at end of clause. 34b.
  • First- and second-person subjects are regularly omitted; third-person pronoun subjects can be omitted. *When Jack arrived, brought flowers. 38d; 62a.
  • A relative clause precedes the noun it modifies, with no relative pronoun: *The enrolled in community college student . . . 46; 62b.
  • Korean has no there is/there are equivalent: *This article says four reasons to eat beans. 30b; 34b.
Nouns and pronouns
  • No relative pronouns. 46a.
  • Plural forms are not obligatory after quantity words and numerals. Plural markers can be attached to adverbs. 43i; 60b.
Verbs and verbals
  • A verb does not agree in number or person with the subject. 43a.
  • Use of the passive is defined differently from English: *We can divide a year into four seasons. *My name base on Chinese characters. *Times have been changed. 42.
  • The infinitive is not used to express purpose: *I go out for having my dinner. 34c; 61e.
Adjectives and adverbs
  • An adjective includes the idea of be: *It results in too busy with our own lives. 41c; 45c.
  • Korean does not make a distinction between the definite and indefinite article. 60e.
  • Often uses one for a: *When I was working, one man came into the store. 60e.

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