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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Jae here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Korean questions.
The question for this lesson is…
How do I use 은 [eun] and 는 [neun]?
은 (eun) and 는 (neun) are called topic marking particles and are placed after a noun to specify what’s being discussed. Using a topic marking particle is one way to designate a noun as the subject of a particular sentence.
The main functions of 은 [eun] and 는 [neun] are to bring attention to or remind the listener about the topic, to clarify the topic, or to contrast two items.
You can use 는 [neun] when the previous syllabic block ends in a vowel, and 은 [eun] when the previous syllabic block ends in a consonant.
Let’s take a look at some examples so you can learn how to use 은 (eun) and 는 (neun) correctly.
When there isn't a specific topic being talked about in a conversation, the topic marking particle can be used to bring attention to what the speaker wants to talk about. For example, 음...한국어 공부는 좋아하세요? [hangugeo gongbuneun joahaseyo?] meaning "Umm...do you like studying Korean?"
Here, the speaker draws attention to the topic of Korean study.
If a topic has already been introduced in the conversation, you don’t need to mention it again. However, if the speaker wishes to clarify what's being spoken about, the topic marking particle is used to clarify the topic of the sentence. From our previous example about studying, we can say, 한국어 공부는 재미있어요. [Hangugeo gongbuneun jaemiisseoyo.] "Studying Korean is fun."
The topic marking particle can also be used to contrast items. 저는 한국어 공부가 재미있어요. [Jeoneun hangugeo gongbuga jaemiisseoyo.] Literally, "As for me, studying Korean is fun." Another person might respond, 저는 영어 공부가 재미있어요. [Jeoneun yeongeo gongbuga jaemiisseoyo.] These sentences use the topic marking particle to contrast the other person, who is interested in studying a different language.
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
Please leave any more questions in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
See you next time. 다음 시간에 만나요. (Daeum-sigane mannayo.)