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  5. 이/가 vs 은/는


이/가 vs 은/는

Whenever I have to translate from English to Korean, I just choose at random wether I use 이/은 or 가/는 after the noun. But often DL counts me wrong if I choose one of these and suggests I pick the other. I don't really see a pattern in this. So is there really an important distinction between the two or should either be accepted in a standard translation?

October 21, 2017



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCxLNRLntc0 is a 17 minute video that explains it pretty well. But as ling.ko points out, it takes quite a while for westerners to really assimilate the difference into their use of Korean.

The "How to Study Korean" course is an excellent source for learning about Korean grammar, and covers this topic in more than one lesson, so it is a little more involved than Mystic Fire's experience.

"이 / 가" are subject markers, and in my opinion, most of the sentences rejected by DL because of the use of "이 / 가" rather than "은 / 는" need to be allowed. "은 / 는" are technically "topic markers" but are frequently used to denote the subject of the sentence.

"이 / 가" are used only as subject markers, but "은 / 는" can be used any place in a sentence (except at the end, of course), and are often used for emphasis, to distinguish one person or thing from another, or to refer to something that has already come up in the conversation. There needs to be more context in order to get a true feeling for the use of "은 / 는" . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOy8bBId3zU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzT1yzKc8rU are both helpful.


Hi, emak! I am a Korean learner as well, and fortunately, before Duolingo released the beta web version, I was able to learn a little Korean grammar from a Korean learning site called howtostudykorean.com. From what I understand, when you have a noun as the subject of the sentence, you will usually use 는 for a noun ending in a vowel ( 아, 이,etc.) and 은 for a nou ending in a consonant. These articles can also be used with adjectives that re not used to end a sentence. 이 and 가 are used for certain verbs like 이다 and 있다 when used as "to have", from what I understand. I am not a native speaker and am learning as well, so take that with a grain a salt. I hope this helps a little. :D


It really exists but hard to distinguish or explain. A professional help is needed.

We koreans are at a loss as to how to undestand a/the usage when learning English. If you are a native speaker of English can you tell the difference? It is the same problem in the opposite direction.

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