Level 1: TTMIK “It’s Me/What is it?” Beginner Sentence Structure Podcast #5

 

안녕하세요! Hello everyone!

I have a confession to make: I was nerding out quite a bit when I was listening to the Talk To Me In Korean Podcast this morning. One of the first things brought up was basic sentence structure.

Guys. GUYS. You have no idea how excited I was to hear about this.d945d869bad1e5c67a215ded93271975

Anyway, let’s get this started!~ Podcast and page to find the PDF!

TTMIK Lesson 5 Page – Click to get to PDF!

The main vocab words of the day:
이에요
예요

These are nice and easy. First word: ee-eh-yo. (ee from tree, eh from egg).
Second word: ye-yo. (Ye from yesterday).

What do these two words mean? They are essentially the equivalent to the “to be” verb in English (is, am, are type of deal). With this we can say simple things. Like “It’s me.” “It’s a school.” “It’s an office.”

Simple sentences like this also help us figure out the structure of a sentence in Korean. So let’s start with something we would see in a KDrama. The character has rushed to their target’s door (whether it is their home, their crush’s house, their enemy’s house, etc) and they are trying to get someone’s attention to let them in.

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Knocking on the door or manically ringing their buzzer works. The person behind the door (mom, crush, enemy, you get the idea) might ask “Who’s there?”

The person at the door could answer: “저예요!”

Let’s break that down a bit. We can recognize the second part of this sentence because of the “To Be” verb – 저예요. So what does that mean? Well, I will help by defining 저 for you – it essentially breaks down to “me/I” in this instance.

Look at how that is written. In English, we would be the “To be” verb first: It’s me!
In Korean, the subject (me) is first, then the “To be” verb. So to us, it looks like “Me it is.”

Yoda. Yoda speak or inverted syntax for those who know what that is. That might be a good way to think of the sentence structure. Another good example:

This is ABC.
이거 ABC 예요.

Bolded is the “To be” verb again. Notice that since ABC is the subject of the sentence, it comes before the verb. 이거 means “this”. So how this sentence breaks down in “English” is: This ABC is.

Want another example?

It’s an office.
사무실이에요.

Again, bolded is the “To be” verb. 사무실 means office. So: Office it is.
Also notice, Korean doesn’t quite have “a/an” relation. It just “is”.

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Okay! Sentence structure part over for now. But before I completely move on, I wanted to point out something easy/neat that was pointed out in the Podcast as well. These sentences are easily turned into questions! When you make it a question, all you do is change you say the sentence with the tone.

Think about how you as a question now. When you ask a question, don’t you end the sentence with a higher tone? Do you see what I am talking about? Same thing with these sentences.

사무실이에요?
Is that an office? Are you at the office now?

이거 ABC 예요?
Is this ABC?

Ta-dah! Like magic. 대박, right?

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So… some of you might have a question like Ms. Granger here. You may have noticed that there are two ‘To be’ verbs. How do you know when to use which one?

In the podcast, they talk about “whichever makes it easier/sounds better.” And though it makes sense, I have found another pattern. Just like how we talked about -아/-야 depends upon if the name ends with a vowel or consonant, the same rule can be applied here.

If the word ends with a vowel you are MORE LIKELY to use 예요.
If the word ends with a consonant you are MORE LIKELY to use 이에요.

Now, I say MORE LIKELY, but I am not 100% sure that is exactly it. But it seems to be holding true so far, and it can help better your odds on choosing the correct one, so I am going to be using that rule and share it with you as well.

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Okay – last thing I will touch on today, I promise! A phrase we have heard before, and it can be used to ‘pick a fight’ if a certain tone is used. But can be said also if truly asking a question:

뭐예요?
What is it? What’s that?

뭐 means what. How to pronounce it? This one tripped me up at first but with practice…
mm-eu-o. (TTMIK wrote it as “mwo” for pronunciation and that might just be a lot easier to process. Normally I try to not use those because … well, we know why, right? But this is an exception because I was tripping over it linguistically.)

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That’s it! That’s all we are going over today! I know you might be really happy/excited because it might seem like a lot to take in. But honestly, if it seems overwhelming or just like a lot to take in, don’t worry. Practice makes perfect. We can get it done! We’ll learn.

Remember that this is a foreign language, we might not get it right away! It is hard.
But this also super fun.

Alright, I really am done for today. See you all next time!

안녕히가세요!

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