It seems to me that "to speak korean" is not standardized in this section... Sometimes, 한국어를 합니다 is marked correctly. Other times, it is incorrect if it doesn't include 말 := 한국어를 (말)합니다 Can anyone share if I'm not seeing the full picture, or if it is something to improve in Beta? Thanks a lot! Leo (2018-02-18)
를 indicates the direct object of the following verb. note that 를 is used only after a word ending in a vowel. if the preceding word ends in a consonant, 을 is used instead.
한국어 is a Sino-Korean word from 韓國語 meaning Korean language. 어 (語) means language. a few examples: 영어 is English language, 프랑스어 is French language, 일본어 is Japanese language, etc.
하다 (Which is your "root" form) literally means "To Do" by itself. When you pair it with a Sino-Korean word (meaning it originates in Chinese), it literally translates as "Do ____." So in this case, you would use the word 말하다, literally "Do Words," or talk. I know that I've seen the "To Do" verb used in other languages imply the speak verb, but I have not seen a native speaker use the 하다 verb by itself in this manner.
When talking about speaking a language, there are two options, ~를 하다 and ~로 말하다.
The particle that you use depends on the verb:
한국어를 하다 = "to speak Korean"
한국어로 말하다 = "to speak in Korean"
1) With 말합니다, it's exactly the same. Perfectly fine. Although, in my opinion it would be more natural to have it be: 한국말을 조금 합니다. or 한국 조금 말합니다.
2) Using 이야기합니다 makes less sense, as it's used for talking with people. 이야기 literally is "a story", so 이야가하다 is more for conversation.
3) With 대화합니다, it doesn't really make sense. 대화하디 is "to converse". So, it would mean "I converse Korean a little bit." People would understand you, but know you meant to use 말합니다.
Your sentence with 말하다 is misspelled and missing its particle:
한국어로 조금 말합니다.
Aside on 한국어 vs 한국말: Both mean "the Korean language", but 어 is Sino-Korean while 말 is Native Korean. As such, 한국어 sounds more formal than 한국말, which is more commonly heard in casual conversations. Also ~어 is used with other languages like English (영어).
Speak is 말을 하다 or in shortened form 말하다.
In the example here, speak Korean is "한국어를 하다"
And in a way, 하다 still means "do". You're arguably "doing" the language.
Personally, I think of it as just being a generic verb. After all, not all things involving 하다 are real action verbs. For example, if someone looks ugly, that's "추하다".
If you get marked wrong and feel it's in error, they have an option for reporting the error. It'll come up with a menu option where you can select that your answer should've been accepted. There aren't many mods, though, so it can take a bit of time before something gets fixed.
1) That means "I can speak a little bit of Korean." The sentence they gave us means "I speak a little bit of Korean."
2) It's not necessary to specifically use 말.
한국어를 합니다. 한국어를 말합니다. 한국을 말합니다. all mean "I speak Korean."
Although, in real life, I more often hear people say it without the object marker (한국 말합니다).