How To Use The Object Particle 을/를
Key Points &
을/를 Particle (a.k.a. Object Particle )
Attached to a noun to mark the noun it follows as the object of a sentence.
을 follows a word ending with a consonant, while 를 follows a word ending with a vowel.
Examples: 감을 ~; 사과를~
Contraction of the 을/를 Particle
In colloquial speech, we often see the contraction of the 을/를 particle: when the object particle 를 follows a vowel-ending word, 를 becomes the consonant ㄹ and is, in turn, attached to the preceding syllable.
Example 1: 뭐를 → 뭘
헨리 씨가 뭐를 좋아해요? 헨리 씨가 뭘 좋아해요? What does Henry like?
Example 2 : 누구를 → 누굴
헨리 씨가 누구를 만나요? → 헨리 씨가 누굴 만나요? Who is Henry meeting?
Example 3 : 고기를 → [ 고길 ]
헨리 씨가 고기를 좋아해요? → 헨리 씨가 [ 고길 ]좋아해요? Does Henry like meat?
Omission of 을/를
The object particle 을/를 is very often omitted in casual speech. But use it when you WANT to place emphasis on the object of the sentence.
헨리 씨가 뭐__ 좋아해요? What does Henry like?
헨리 씨가 고기__ 좋아해요. Henry likes meat.
을/를 CANNOT be combined with the particle 은/는 or 도
Example: If you wanted to say “I eat bagels“ but imply there are other things I don't eat :
(x) 나는 베이글을은 먹어요 or 나는 베이글을도 먹어요
(o) 나는 베이글은 먹어요 or 나는 베이글도 먹어요
헨리 씨가 뭐를 좋아해요? What does Henry like?
헨리 씨가 뭘 좋아해요? What does Henry like? (뭐, what, followed by the object particle 를 is contracted to 뭘)
브라이언이 사과를 좋아해요. Brian likes apples.
헨리 씨가 고기를 좋아해요. Henry likes meat.
헨리 씨가 누구를 만나요? Who is Henry meeting?
헨리 씨가 누굴 만나요? Who is Henry meeting? (누구를 contracted to 누굴)
헨리 씨가 수지를 만나요? Is Henry meeting Susie?
수지가 킥복싱을 가르쳐요? Does Suzy teach kickboxing?
I. Please supply appropriate object particle in the blanks and provide the corresponding English.
헨리 씨가 뭐___ 좋아해요?
브라이언이 사과_____ 좋아해요.
헨리 씨가 누구_____ 만나요?
4. 수지가 킥복싱_____ 가르쳐요?
II. Please provide the contracted forms of the given.
뭐를 → ____________
누구를 → ____________
어디를 → __________
Hi there, this is Kay from essentialkorean.com. 안녕하세요. EK Kay샘입니다.
In this episode, we will learn another particle, the 을/를 particle set, often referred to as the “object particle”, and be comparing it to the other particles we’ve learned so far, namely 은/는, 도, and 이/가. You will hear and practice many sentences using those particles with situational examples.
I also have a song for us to listen to, titled 잊을게, “I’ll Forget You,” by the famous rock singer 윤도현 Yoon Do Hyun and his band YB. Let’s get started!
The 을/를 particle is known most simply as the ‘object particle’, and is a paired set like 은/는 and 이/가: 을 follows a word ending with a consonant, while 를 follows a word ending with a vowel. A quick example would be having 을 with 감, persimmons, to say 감을, and 를 with 사과, apple, to say 사과를.
For its function, the particle 을/를 is attached to a noun to mark the noun it follows as the object of a sentence.
For example, if we wanted to say Brian likes apples and mark apples as the object, how would we use the 을/를? You’re correct if you said 브라이언이 사과를 좋아해요. Notice how we used 이, which we learned last episode, to indicate Brian to be the subject.
Please repeat after me to say, Brian likes apples.
브라이언이 / 사과를 / 좋아해요.
브라이언이 사과를 / 좋아해요.
브라이언이 사과를 좋아해요.
Let’s imagine a situation where you and your colleagues are making plans for an important client, Henry 헨리, coming to Korea. While discussing dinner plans with him and deciding which restaurant to take him out to, you decide to ask one of your colleagues who knows Henry well what Henry likes. Using 을/를, can you say the question to find out what Henry likes? 헨리 씨가 뭐를 좋아해요? : First, please note that 씨 after Henry is a term usually added after the name of someone with whom you do not use 반말, the casual, intimate speech style, to keep social distance. 헨리 씨 is followed by the subject particle 가 because Henry is the subject of the sentence; 뭐 which means what is followed by the object particle 를; and we have the verb 좋아해요 which means like. Bringing them all together, let’s say What does Henry like in Korean. Please repeat after me:
헨리 씨가 / 뭐를 / 좋아해요?
헨리 씨가 뭐를 / 좋아해요?
헨리 씨가 뭐를 좋아해요?
Now, in colloquial speech, in place of 뭐를, you’re likely to hear a single syllable 뭘 which is the contracted form of 뭐를. The contraction happens when the object particle 를 follows a vowel-ending word where 를 becomes the consonant ㄹ which in turn is attached to the preceding syllable. Thus, 뭐를 is contracted to 뭘; 이센셜코리안팟캐스트를 in which 이센셜코리안팟캐스트 Essential Korean Podcast, is followed by 를, would be contracted to [ 이센셜코리안팟캐스틀 ]. So, you might hear me casually saying [ 이센셜코리안팟캐스틀 ] 들어요 which means I listen to Essential Korean Podcast.
Let’s ask the question, what does Henry like, in Korean again, using the contracted phrase 뭘 as a native speaker would. Please repeat after me to say the question in which 뭐, what, followed by the object particle 를 is contracted to 뭘:
헨리 씨가 / 뭘 / 좋아해요?
헨리 씨가 뭘 / 좋아해요?
헨리 씨가 뭘 좋아해요?
This time, you are the one who knows Henry well, and you know he likes meat. If I told you that meat in Korean is 고기, how would you answer the question, 헨리 씨가 뭘 좋아해요, using the object particle 을/를? You are correct again if you said, 헨리 씨가 고기를 좋아해요. Please repeat after me to say Henry likes meat.
헨리 씨가 / 고기를 / 좋아해요.
헨리 씨가 고기를 / 좋아해요;
헨리 씨가 고기를 좋아해요.
Is anyone wondering if you could also contract the phrase 고기를? Sure you can! Can you then guess what it’ll be contracted to? You get a bonus point if you answered [ 고길 ] and said, 헨리 씨가 [ 고길 ] 좋아해요.
Henry’s coming to the right place because, in Korea, Korean barbecue restaurants, where people cook their own meat at the table, are everywhere, from casual ones to fancy, expensive ones.
Moving on from our 고기 adventures, you and your colleagues are going over Henry’s daily schedule when he visits Korea. You want to ask whom Henry is meeting on the day of his arrival. How would you ask that, using 을/를?
Yes, you can say, 헨리 씨가 누구를 만나요? -- 헨리 씨 is followed by the subject particle 가; 누구, who, is followed by the object particle 를, making 누구를 meaning whom; and 만나요 means meet. Let’s bring these all together and repeat after me to ask whom Henry is meeting:
헨리 씨가 / 누구를 / 만나요?
헨리 씨가 누구를 / 만나요?
헨리 씨가 누구를 만나요?
Can anyone guess how you can sound even more casual? You can contract 누구를 to 누굴. Please repeat after me to say “Who is Henry meeting?”
헨리 씨가 / 누굴 / 만나요?
헨리 씨가 누굴 / 만나요?
헨리 씨가 누굴 만나요?
The subject, the object, and the verb are basic elements that make up a sentence and, naturally, it is important to learn the particles that are used with the subject and object in a sentence. One important fact to note about the particle 을/를, however, is that 을/를 is very often omitted in casual speech. So, we can have sentences like 헨리 씨가 고기 좋아해요 Henry likes meat and 헨리 씨가 누구 만나요? Whom is Henry meeting? where there’s no object particle after the object of the sentence, 고기 and 누구. Now you are probably wondering and asking, ‘what is then the difference between the sentences with and without the object particle after the object of a sentence’? In everyday conversation, don’t worry about using the object particle too much, but in cases where you WANT to place emphasis on the object of the sentence, add the object particle. For example, if you are surprised to hear that Henry is meeting Susie, you can react to the information, putting emphasis on 수지 by saying, 헨리 씨가 수지를 만나요?, with 를 after 수지, the object of the sentence. Comparing 헨리 씨가 수지를 만나요 and 헨리 씨가 수지 만나요, the sentence with the phrase, 수지를, brings out Susie more than the sentence with 수지 alone without 를.
Pretend you’re very surprised to hear that Henry will meet Susie because you had believed they were not on good terms. Express your surprise. Repeat after me:
헨리 씨가 / 수지를 / 만나요?
헨리 씨가 수지를 / 만나요?
헨리 씨가 수지를 만나요?
One more example. Pretend you just learned that Susie is teaching kickboxing. You’re taken aback because you never saw Susie as someone who would exercise or do any sport, let alone kickboxing. Let’s react to the information, expressing your surprise. We’d need the object particle after 킥복싱. Please repeat after me.
수지가 / 킥복싱을 / 가르쳐요?
수지가 킥복싱을 / 가르쳐요?
수지가 킥복싱을 가르쳐요?
Our final point to remember when using 을/를 is: you CANNOT combine 을/를 with the particle 은/는 or 도. Let’s say you want to say I eat bagels :
나 베이글 먹어요 where there’s no subject or object particle works;
나는 베이글 먹어요 works, as well;
나는 베이글을 먹어요, highlighting and bringing out 베이글 as the item I eat; but
(x) 나는 베이글을은 먹어요 or 나는 베이글은/을 먹어요 does not work, as you cannot combine the particles 을/를 and 은/는.
If, instead, you wanted to say “I eat bagels” but imply there are other things I don't eat, you don’t need 을/를 after the object, but would use 은/는 and say,
(o) 나는 베이글은 먹어요.
With that line of thinking:
(o) 나는 베이글도 먹어요 is correct, while
(x) 나는 베이글은도 먹어요 or 나는 베이글도은 먹어요 is incorrect in saying I eat bagels (in addition to other things).
Now, let’s move on to today’s song! As stated in the beginning, today we will be listening to 잊을게 by 윤도현 who also wrote the lyrics of the song, and his band, YB. Don’t be misled by the uplifting melody though; this song is about bygone love, which seems to be an unintentional trend of the songs we select for teaching particles ;) Let’s listen to the song first, listening for any 을/를 particles.
( Music . . . )
The lyrics you heard manifest a few distinct characteristics of the Korean language I have discussed on our podcast.
- One, the subject 나 ‘I’ is not mentioned anywhere, because it’s naturally assumed that the perspective is the speaker.
- Two, unlike in English, the particle (or the context) marks the object of a sentence in Korean, not the word order. In this case 너, you, is marked to be the object of the sentence with the object particle 를. You hear the object phrase 너를 repeated in each line in the song.
- Three, the main verb is saved toward the end of the part you hear, so we don’t learn what the verb for the object phrase 너를 is until later. We should thank the very fluid nature of the Korean word order for this, making it possible for us to anticipate how the lyrics will come together in the end.
Ok, now here come the lyrics. Please try to look for the now familiar particle 을/를:
아침에 눈을 떴을 때 너를
아침에 in the morning;
눈 eyes followed by the object particle 을, “눈을”;
떴을 때 when I opened ;
너 you followed by the object particle 를, “너를”;
Bringing them all together again, 아침에 눈을 떴을 때 In the morning when I opened my eyes, 너를 you
(Next line, )
길을 걷다 멍하니 너를
길 path or road followed by the object particle 을, “길을” ;
걷다 walking ;
멍하니 mindlessly ;
너 you followed by the object particle 를, “너를” ;
Bringing them all together again, 길을 걷다 멍하니 Walking down the path, aimlessly, 너를 you
(Next line, )
지금은 내 곁에 없는 너를
지금은 at least now ;
내 곁에 없는 not being next to me ;
너를 you followed by the object particle 를, “너를” ;
Bringing them all together, 지금은 내 곁에 없는 not being next to me any more, 너를 you
And next, here comes the verb paired with the object phrase 너를:
그리워하네 I miss
바보처럼 like a fool
So, if this were a song in English, the lyrics would have been something like this:
When I open my eyes in the morning, I miss YOU
When I walk the path mindlessly, I miss YOU
Like a fool, I miss YOU who is no longer next to me
The next part has the main verb 바래 which means ‘hope’, which you’ll hear at the end of each line. Whatever he hopes for is marked with the 을/를 particle, and appears right before the verb 바래. I’ll go over it line by line, so listen for the object particle 를 before 바래.
나보다 행복하기를 바래
I hope you are happier than I am
내 생각하지 않기를 바래
I hope that you don’t think of me
더 좋은 사람 만나길 (which is the contracted form of 만나기를 ) 바래
I hope that you’ll meet someone better
다시는 내게 올 수 없게
I hope that you meet someone better
Ok, with a good understanding of the lyrics, let’s listen to the song one more time. Look for the object phrase with 를, at the end of each line, followed by the verb 뱌래:
( music… )
The first verse makes you want to continue listening… still, for the purpose of learning how 을/를 is used in action, we will keep it there. It only gets better from there, though, so I suggest you look up 잊을게 or “I’ll forget you” by YB and Yoon Do Hyun and listen to the entire song!
Alright, thank you again for listening to another episode! If you learned something or want to show your support for our podcast, please consider leaving a rating or review for this podcast: it helps a lot with visibility and helps us reach more Korean learners.
I’ll connect with you next week, so be on the lookout for a new episode.
Until then, keep studying hard! 고맙습니다!
*Featured Song >
Title: 잊을게 I’ll Forget You (2003)
Artist: 윤도현 Yoon Do Hyun & his band, YB
Only for those who check out the lesson recap and transcript…
Cover (2021): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwFZPEPbcpQ