Korean Letters

Here you’ll find the Hangul (Korean letter alongside it’s common Romanization letter and a pronunciation guide).  I’ve made several changes to the consonants in October 2016 because I’ve been studying for a while, and I think some of the pronunciation needs clarification.  I’ll be changing the vowels soon as well.

**If you click on the letter/character, it will show you how to write the hangul.  Or you can visit “Writing Hangul” for stroke order and how to form the characters!

Korean Vowels

  • ㅏ = a (as in father)
  • ㅔ= e (as in bed)
  • ㅣ= i (as in sing) 
  • ㅗ = o (as in bone)
  • ㅓ= eo (as in bun)
  • ㅜ = u (as in hoot)
  • ㅐ= ae (as in bake)
  • 一 = eu (as in nook)

Add on an extra line to get “y   ” :

  • ㅑ= (Ya)
  • ㅖ = (Ye)
  • ㅛ  = (Yo)
  • ㅕ= (Yeo)
  • ㅠ  = (Yu)
  • ㅒ = (Yae)

These all have the sound “w” added on:

  • ㅘ = (wa)
  • ㅞ = (we)
  • ㅚ = (wi) (as in we)
  • ㅝ = (weo)
  • ㅙ = (wae)

Strange vowel combinations:

  • ㅟ= (wi) (sounds more like an “ooee” sound as in “suey”)
  • ㅢ = (ui) (add the oo from “nook” to the ee from “seen”)

Korean Consonants

NOTICE 

  • ㄱ, ㅋ, ㄲ all say a sharp “k” at the end of a Word. 
  • ㅂ, ㅍ, ㅃ all say a sharp “p” at the end of a Word.
  • ㄷ, ㅌ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㄸ, ㅉ, ㅆ all say a sharp “t” at the end of a Word.

= B/P – Purse your lips like you blowing on hot soup.  Instead of trying to add a sound to it, just blow through your lips. Like “pool.”  It sounds very breathy – and the “b” or “p” done this way sounds very similar.  But there is a teensy difference so you should say:

  • P at the beginning of a word. 
  • B at the beginning of a syllable
  • Sharp P at the end of a word/syllable (like “stop“)

 = Ph – Not like “f” in “phone.” It’s actually a “p” sound then breathe hard through vowel. Like “pill“-  If you slowed it way down, it would sound a little like “p +hill,” but we say it very quickly. 

  • Ph at the beginning of a word.
  • Ph at the beginning of a syllable.
  • Sharp P at the end of a word/syllable (like “stop“)

= D/T – Put the tip of your tongue on the top ridge of your mouth like the beginning of a “T.”  Blow out the sound so it sounds breathy like “Tom.” Whether or not you breathe out a “d” or “t” depends on its position in the word.

  • T at the beginning of a word.
  • D in the middle of a word.
  • Sharp T at the end of a word/syllable (like “bat“)

= Th – Not “th” as in “thin.” Rather a “t” sound then keep breathing out hard through the following vowel. Like “talk” – If you slowed it way down, it might sound a little like “t +halk,” but we say it very quickly. 

  • Th at the beginning of a Word
  • Th at the beginning of a Syllable
  • Sharp T at the end of a word/syllable (like “bat“)

= S/SHSmile and close your teeth, then say “s.” Sounds kind of like a ‘tsh‘ if you listen extremely closely. In front of some vowels, it sounds like an s. In front of others, it sounds like a sh.  삼순”sam soon” or 심”shim.” Stick to a soft ‘s’ sound as in “soft” if you are unsure. 

  • Sh at the beginning of a Word
  • Sh at the beginning of a Syllable
  • Sharp T at the end of a word/syllable (like “bat“)
=Tj/J – Think about the word “tzar” – we don’t quite say the ‘t’ sound, but it isn’t a pure ‘z’ either. Well this is like that, but it’s a ‘tj‘ or ‘tyah‘ sound like in “bastion”.  Smile and close your teeth. Put the front of your tongue up against the ridge of your mouth like if shaping the “t” in “Tom.”  Then try to say “Jim” or “joseon.” It’s kind of like a J, but not quite because it is breathy at the front.  If you absolutely can’t say this one, go for a “j” like in “Jim“- it’s the closest sound.
  • Tj at the beginning of a Word
  • Tj at the beginning of a Syllable
  • Sharp T at the end of a word/syllable (like “bat“)
= Tjh/CH – Like the ㅈ, this letter starts with the ‘tj’ sound. But you keep breathing out through the following vowel so it’s more like a ‘tj+h‘ sound. Like “jacket” or “chili.” If you absolutely can’t say this one, go for a “ch” like in “chili” – it’s the closest sound.
  • Tjh at the beginning of a Word
  • Tjh at the beginning of a Syllable
  • Sharp T at the end of a word/syllable (like “bat“)
= G/K – Put the back of your tongue up in the back of your mouth like for the “g” in “gamble” or “guitar.” But instead of opening your mouth for the following vowel, leave your tongue up there at the top. Try saying”gong” without ever moving your tongue.  It sounds muffled – and it’s really hard to hear the difference between a ‘k” or “g” said that way.  However, since there is a teensy different between K or G said this way, you should say:
  • “K” at the beginning of a Word.
  • “G” at the beginning of a Syllable.
  • Sharp “K” at the end of a word/syllable (like “Check”). 
= Kh – Put the back of your tongue up in the back of your mouth like for the ‘k’ in ‘kite.’ But breathe hard through the following vowel  so it sounds like the ‘k‘ in ‘khaki‘ if you say the word correctly.  
  • “Kh” at the beginning of a Word
  • “Kh” at the beginning of a Syllable.
  • Sharp “K” at the end of a word/syllable (like “Check”). 
= H – same as English although a little breathy (as in Hamburger)
 
 
= R/L – Put the front of your tongue on the top ridge of your mouth like you are beginning an “L.” then try to say “root” and “loot.” Not much different right?  Whether or not your breathe out the “r” or “l” sound depends on its position in the word.
  • “R” at the beginning of a Syllable.
  • “L” at the end of a word/syllable.
= M -Same as the English ‘m‘ as in “Man
 
= N – Same as the English ‘n‘ as in “Nap
 
O = NG – This letter is silent at the beginning, but is an “ng” at the end of a syllable(봉 = Bong)
  • “silent” at the beginning of a Syllable.
  • “ng” at the end of a word/syllable as in “Ring

DOUBLE CONSONANTS

The best advice on pronouncing double consonants actually came from a Japanese lesson – At the end of the first syllable form the letter with your mouth but stop – don’t actually say it. Then pause (very quickly) and then start the second syllable with the letter pronounced. Like “begging” – (“be (shape the g but don’t say)-pause- ging”)

 = K (as in back)

= T (as in bet)

= Ty (as in bastion) at beginning. T (as in bet) at the end.

= P ( as in stop)

= S (as in sam) at beginning. T (as in bet) at the end.

 

HANGUL PRONUNCIATION CHEAT SHEET ($1)

hangul-product

Clearly Organized Explanatory Infographic-based PDF outlining the ADVANCED Hangul Pronunciation Rules (including Batchim, Double Consonants, Double Vowels, and more).  Everything carefully designed to include examples, pattern-building organization of letters, and other tricks intended to help you see how the language is built into the blocks.

Also Includes a simple cheat sheet on the Hangul (Korean) Pronunciation rules. If you want to learn more, this cheat sheet is perfect for you.  

Includes

  • specific pronunciation rules for each letter, dipthong, and combination
  • how to pronounce and differentiate difficult letters and sounds
  • the difference between the normal, aspirated, and tense letters that confuse so many learners.
  • the rules for double consonants
  • Re-syllabification, Consonant Assimilation, Tensification, and more.

All rules are simplified and stated clearly to ease understanding. Each rule or instruction includes Korean and Romanized examples for you to use as a starting point. 

Although Korean letters look simple when you first start, it soon becomes obvious that correct pronunciation can be very complex.  However, if you follow this cheat sheet, you should start to master it very soon!

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Korean Letters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s