There needs to be a skill completely dedicated to teaching the difference between 는/은 and 가/이

And I don't just mean saying "one is for the topic and one is for the subject" and leaving it at that, like it does in the Basics 1 skill notes. The sheer amount of questions I'm getting wrong in many different skills throughout the tree that were only marked wrong because I used the wrong one of 는 and 가 is leaving me frustrated and confused about the difference between the two. I can't tell if it's just that my answer is also correct and I should report it, or if my answer is actually incorrect. And if it is incorrect, I have no idea why.

I think there should be a skill devoted to teaching the difference, and not just leaving it as an extra bit of information on a tangentially related skill. There needs to be example sentences where only one of the two particles is correct, and explaining why the other one is incorrect. There needs to be example sentences of when you could use either one, and explaining what subtle differences they have (or if they are basically the same thing). Right now, all I'm doing is guessing, often incorrectly (as far as I know). It's demotivating that I've unlocked half the tree already and I still haven't fully grasped one of the most fundamental aspects of the Korean language.

March 2, 2019


I agree! Until then, I recommend these resources:

TalkToMeInKorean - Level 1 Lesson 9;level=;theme=Free

howtostudykorean - Unit 1 Lesson 2

March 2, 2019

The way I've learnt it is this:

  • 는 - Topic marker, used after a vowel e.g. 여자는 - A woman. Used when making a general statement e.g. An apple is a fruit.
  • 은 - Topic marker, after a consonant e.g. 연필은 - A pencil.

  • 가 - Subject marker, used after a vowel e.g. 학교가 - The school

  • 이 - Subject marker, used after a consonant e.g. 연필이 - The pencil. Used when you're talking about something specific e.g. THE pencil is a thing.

I'll admit that learning Korean is definitely hard. It can be done though. It's just finding a way to learn it. I hope my tips on learning the difference helped.

March 2, 2019

ill tell you a secret about 이가/은는: if there was a skill about it, it would be at the bottom of the tree. it is such a simple concept, but theres just no way to teach or learn it before one learns to make sentences with 2,3,4 clauses in there.

ill tell you another secret: duolingo isnt that good. from a grammatical standpoint, you can almost always just switch them out. literally pretty much all of the 는/은 이/가 things duolingo marks wrong could be marked right, and they were just indiscriminately chosen on a whim, theres no special meaning behind any of it at all.

ive written a thing about 은/는 before, but really, if you want to understand it go learn like: (으)려고, (으)니까, 어/아서, 기 때문에, (으)면, (으)면서, and how to 는 것 first and then it will seem obvious, i assure you.

March 2, 2019

I agree with the fact that there should be a skill that teaches the difference between the two.

With the way Duolingo is set up, it naturally falters at these kinds of things. The only way to "explain" is through hovering over words and Tips and Notes. Many times, this is not enough to explain nuances. Also, since Duolingo's exercises are single-line and context-free, it is common for the correct distinction of the particles to be trivial. They are only really useful for when context exists. (Though there are cases where one is correct and one is wrong, which may be the root of your frustration.)

I recommend you, if you haven't already, to do some research on the internet and on YouTube. I will also link you to my explanation if you haven't seen it already, as well as a few videos: here, here, and here.

I am of the belief, however, that understanding the particles will come with time. It will slowly being to click and you will feel the nuance differences. But the journey to get there is frustrating for sure. If you have any specific questions on the particles given some example sentences, I'd be happy to answer them.

March 2, 2019

Thanks! The explanation you wrote in those comments is already way better than the notes in the tree, it's already starting to make a little bit more sense, now I just need to practice lol

March 3, 2019

Kudos to k_fu and McPwny for their very perceptive comments, especially the suggestion to go beyond DL for instruction. Korean is a very contextual language. For the great majority of the examples where your answer was deemed "wrong" a context could be constructed so that your choice would be correct.

March 9, 2019
Learn Korean in just 5 minutes a day. For free.