The Korean Alphabet

Learning Korean for the first time!

Hangeul or 한글 (the Korean alphabet) literally means "the Korean writing."

In 한글, the Korean alphabet, consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels.

  • Cosonants: ㄱㄴㄷㄹㅁㅂㅅㅇㅈㅊㅋㅌㅍㅎ
  • Vowels: ㅏㅑㅓㅕㅗㅛㅜㅠㅡㅣ

In addition, there are 5 double consonants and 11 double vowels.
  • Double consonants: ㄲㄸㅃㅆㅉ
  • Double vowels: ㅐㅒㅔㅖㅘㅙㅚㅝㅞㅟㅢ

Additionally, there are 11 final double consonants.
  • Final double consonants: ㄳ ㄵ ㄶ ㄺ ㄻ ㄼ ㄽ ㄾ ㄿ ㅀ ㅄ

Please also refer to the audio recording of different Korean consonant-vowel combinations that I produced with my own voice, here, Korean alphabet - Consonants and Vowels.

You will get to learn these basic consonants and vowels, learning how to read, write and pronounce.
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Click on the alphabet to listen to their corresponding pronunciations.
(Provided by Korean language learning online, Sogang Unversity)

자음[Consonants]

= g
= n
= d
= l, r (ㄹ is a sound somewhere between l and r)
= m
= b
= s
= "no sound" when used as a first consonant, "ng" when used as a final consonant.
= j
= ch
= k
= t
= p
= h

모음[Vowels]

ㅏ = a
= ya
= eo
= yeo
= o
= yo
= u
= yu
= eu
= i

쌍자음[Double consonants]

= gg Click on the link to hear the difference between the sounds of ㄱ, ㄲ and ㅋ.
= dd Note the difference in sounds; ㄷ, ㄸ and ㅌ.
= bb Note the difference in sounds;ㅂ, ㅃ and ㅍ.
= ss Note the difference in sounds; ㅅ and ㅆ
= jj Note the difference in sounds; ㅈ, ㅉ and ㅊ 

More links: , , , ,

쌍모음[Double Vowels]

= ae
= yae (rarely used)
= e
= ye
= wa
= wae
= oe
= wo
= we (rarely used)
= wi
= ui 


● How to form a character

There are two ways of making a character, using the consonants and vowels as building blocks.
  1. Initial consonant + Vowel
  2. Initial consonant + Vowel + Final consonant
     1. Examples
    • 가 = ㄱ + ㅏ = ga
    • 너 = ㄴ + ㅓ = neo
    • 도 = ㄷ + ㅗ = do
    • 루 = ㄹ + ㅜ = lu/ru
    • 므 = ㅁ + ㅡ = meu
    • 비 = ㅂ + ㅣ = bi
    2. Examples
    • 각 = ㄱ + ㅏ + ㄱ = gag
    • 넌= ㄴ + ㅓ + ㄴ = neon
    • 돗 = ㄷ + ㅗ + ㅅ = dod
    • 를 = ㄹ + ㅡ + ㄹ = leul/reul
    • 쟁 = ㅈ + ㅐ + ㅇ = jaeng 

    Characters with final consonants of ㄱ, ㄲ and ㅋ, all sound the same. Thus 각, 갂 and 갘 will sound exactly the same.

    For example,

    , , Their final consonants all sound the same. Click on the links to hear.

    Now, below is a list of the final consonants and their respective sounds.
    • ㄱ/ㄲ/ㅋ = ㄱ
    • ㅂ/ㅃ/ㅍ = ㅂ
    • ㄷ/ㅌ/ㅅ/ㅆ/ㅈ/ㅊ/ㅎ = ㄷ
    • ㄴ= ㄴ
    • ㄹ= ㄹ
    • ㅁ= ㅁ
    • ㅇ= ㅇ
    For example,
    • 낚시 [낙시] = fishing
    • 부엌 [부억] = kitchen
    • 앞 [압] = front
    • 씨앗 [씨앋] = seed
    • 낮 [낟] = day

    For a more detailed explanation and audio files, click here.

    When the initial consonant of second and/or third characters is ㅇ, for example, 돌이 and 만악이, the sound of the final consonant of each letter is pronounced with the next vowel. Because ㅇ has no sound, 돌이 is pronounced as 도리 and 만악이 as 마나기. These are just made-up words to show you how these work.
    • 돌이[도리]
    • 만악이[마나기]
    For more examples on this pronunciation, click on the link.


    쌍받침[Final double consonants]

    There are also 11 additional final double consonants. Their sounds are as follows. As you can see, the first consonant of the double consonants is pronounced. (except ㄺ = ㄱ,ㄻ = ㅁ and ㄿ = ㅂ) I do not recommend that you learn these exhaustively right away because that is a hard work and I rarely employed them in my grammar lessons anyway. So it would be better to come back to these when you come across them from time to time.
    • ㄳ = ㄱ
    • ㄵ = ㄴ
    • ㄶ = ㄴ
    • ㄺ = ㄱ
    • ㄻ = ㅁ
    • ㄼ = ㄹ
    • ㄽ = ㄹ
    • ㄾ = ㄹ
    • ㄿ = ㅂ
    • ㅀ = ㄹ
    • ㅄ = ㅂ
    Eg.

    삯  [삭] = amount
    앉다 [안따] = sit
    많다 [만타] = many
    읽다 [익따] = read
    삶다 [삼따] = boil
    넓다 [널따] = spacious
    외곬 [외골] = a single way
    핥다 [할따] = lick
    읊다 [읍따] = recite (a poem)
    잃다 [일타] = lose (a thing)
    값 [갑] = price

    Excellent pronunciation lessons by Sogang Unversity (Korean language learning online)

    Source: http://korean.sogang.ac.kr/

    Also, check out the Korean Wiki Project for additional explanations of the Korean consonants and vowels and respective pronunciations.

    For writing practices,

    Sources:
    Slow but STEADY: http://cyjn.com/165
    키드앤틴, KidnTeen: http://www.kidnteen.com/hannnum/han.asp

    52 comments:

    1. why is 돗 = ㄷ + ㅗ + ㅅ = dod
      the ㅅ pronounce d not s

      ReplyDelete
    2. ㄷ/ㅌ/ㅅ/ㅆ/ㅈ/ㅊ/ㅎ = ㄷ
      This is just a rule. So 돋, 돝, 돗, 돘, 돚, 돛 and 돟 all sound the same. Likewise 독, 돆 and 돜 sound the same and 돕 and 돞 sound the same.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Only when these consonants are followed by a vowel initial syllable such as '-이랑 (with)', you will hear them pronounced distinctly. For example, in both 꽃 and 갓, both ㅊ and ㅅ are pronounced the same ('t') when they are alone. However, when they are followed by -이랑, you will hear them pronounced differently [꼬치랑, 가시랑]

        Delete
    3. I still can't hear the difference between ㄱ and ㅋ. I lived in Korea for years and still don't really get the difference between ㄱ,ㅋ,ㄲ.

      It must be my tin Anglo ears, but it seems like it should be an increasing 'hardness' of g,k,kk but in practice (speaking) ㄲ is more like a soft g, and ㄱ and ㄲ are indistinguishable. I have the same problems with ㄷ,ㅌ,ㄸ. ^-^

      All explanations appreciated but likely treated with bemusement.

      ReplyDelete
    4. ㄱ is the softest and then ㄲ and ㅋ is the harshest sound. Have you tried the link to their pronunciations?

      Yes. I found that most people whose mother tongue is English find it hard to distinguish the difference between ㄲ and ㅋ.

      The best approach would be just keep listening,, lol That's my method to learning a foreign language.^^

      ReplyDelete
    5. how do you write JEZZA in korean ?? . thank you

      ReplyDelete
    6. What's JEZZA? It could be written as 제자 or 제짜.

      ReplyDelete
    7. i dont get how to pronounce ㄹ. when do you pronounce it as "l"? when do you pronounce it as "r"?

      ReplyDelete
    8. Hi, Shintaro.
      ㄹ does not sound like neither of "l" and "r".
      ㄹ sounds like something between "l" and "r". I recommend you listen to audios that contain ㄹ.

      For those of you who are Japanese or who learned some Japanese, it may help to notice that ㄹ is almost identical to the Japanese "r" sound.

      Therefore,
      라 = ら (ra)
      로 = ろ (ro)
      루 = る (ru)
      레 = れ (re)

      ReplyDelete
    9. When ㄹ is used as a final consonant, it sounds like "ㅣ".

      For example,
      밀 = mil
      빌 = bil
      일 = il
      팔 = pal

      When the next syllable has the initial consonant of ㄹ, it is also pronounced as "l". ie. two ㄹ's are together.

      For example,
      빌라 = billa
      살림 = sallim
      굴레 = gulle

      However, when ㄹ is used as an initial consonant without another ㄹ preceding it, it is pronounced just like normal ㄹ sound.

      비라 = bira
      사림 = sarim
      구레 = gure

      ReplyDelete
    10. Thanks so much. Your site is very useful. And the website of Sokang you attached is also very good. I learn Korean by myself just with two those website. Thanks again!

      ReplyDelete
    11. Hi Luke, in your examples for making words with three letters, you put the letter for d+o+s = dod. Typo? Because it confused me rather.

      돗 = ㄷ + ㅗ + ㅅ = dod (??)

      ReplyDelete
    12. 돗 = ㄷ + ㅗ + ㅅ = dod

      if read it on korean it'll be like

      ㄱ = g (giyeok)
      ㄴ = n (nieun)
      ㄷ = d (digeut)
      ㄹ = l, r (ㄹ is a sound somewhere between l and r) (rieul)
      ㅁ = m (mieum)
      ㅂ = b (bieup)
      ㅅ = s (siot)
      ㅇ = "no sound" when used as a first consonant, "ng" when used as a final consonant. (ieung)
      ㅈ = j (jieut)
      ㅊ = ch (chieut)
      ㅋ = k (kieuk)
      ㅌ = t (tieut)
      ㅍ = p (pieup)
      ㅎ = h (hieut)

      so

      돗 = ㄷ + ㅗ + ㅅ = dod
      it sounds dod/dot causes ㅅ (siot) is final word there... so it'll be dot... (ㅅ sounds T when it's being a final word)

      ReplyDelete
    13. hey y did u take away d writing korean alphabet pdf file? =/

      ReplyDelete
    14. pdf files have been restored.

      ReplyDelete
    15. hi, thanks for the lessons! i have a question,

      for the final consonants, how do we know which one to use when writing, since some of them of more than one for each sound?

      ReplyDelete
    16. Hi,

      My answer is, 'You need to learn them.'

      Just like in English, for example,

      laugh is not spelled "laf"
      There are whether & weather.

      Likewise, you just need to learn the final consonants.

      Often though, there is a pattern.

      In the examples below,
      삯 [삭] = amount
      앉다 [안따] = sit
      많다 [만타] = many
      읽다 [익따] = read
      삶다 [삼따] = boil
      넓다 [널따] = spacious
      외곬 [외골] = a single way
      핥다 [할따] = lick
      읊다 [읍따] = recite (a poem)
      잃다 [일타] = lose (a thing)
      값 [갑] = price

      The ones on the left-hand are ones with the correct "spelling."
      They are the ones you use in writing.
      The ones in the brackets are "how they're pronounced." It is my way of writing their pronunciations.

      Like in English dictionary,
      laugh (läf)

      Hope this makes sense.

      ReplyDelete
    17. mm, i'm kinda confuse at this part : Final double consonants.
      what is the deifferent of Final double consonants and the other consonants?
      and when are we going to use this Final double consonants??
      and why we must use Final double consonants like: 삯 [삭] = amount we can just use the '삭' right? please answer. i need this. hehe thanks :)
      sorry for a lot of this question :)

      ReplyDelete
    18. hi, i have just found this site.. i'm starting to learn korean as well.. i just know some of the characters. i know eventually i will be able to memorize them all if i keep on studying.. i just have a question.. i have listened to the sounds of every character you've posted on this page.. but i keep hearing ㄱ pronounced as K not G.. athough i notice on some readings that sometimes G and K may be the same, but you have emphasized on this page that ㄱ is for G and ㅋ is for K

      ReplyDelete
    19. so I have been wondering, do the vowels have names? Or do we just call them by their sound? *is confused* thank you for your time!

      ReplyDelete
    20. Hi Sarah,

      Vowels don't have names. We just call them by their sounds. :)

      ReplyDelete
    21. Hi Regina,

      In the case of 삵[삭], it's just a spelling issue.

      For example, in English, we write 'drought' rather than 'drout'.

      ReplyDelete
    22. Typo* 삯 means 'a fare', 'fee', or 'charge' but it's rarely used nowadays.

      ReplyDelete
    23. Hi Kongju

      Many find that ㄱ sounds k but the reason I emphasize that ㄱ is g is because of the Romanised spelling and the differentiation issue.

      As ㄱ and ㅋ sound different, I just want to make sure that they sound different.

      But it's OK if you hear ㄱ as k. But I would like to make sure that you differentiate ㄱ from ㅋ and vice versa when hearing them.

      ReplyDelete
    24. When I see a Romanized Korean, I thought that it was supposed to be read as how it was written (well like English.. in some way....phonetic) but to my horror it is not.. like ㄱ when romanized usually using 'G', but was supposed to be pronounce as 'K' (soft k i think) especially after listening to a lot of kpop songs

      ReplyDelete
    25. ㄱ sounds like "soft k" but not actually "hard k" as in "king."

      For example,
      김 = Gim (seaweed)
      킴 = Kim (the most common surname in Korea)

      ReplyDelete
    26. Luke, I thought Kim the surname is spelt 김, like the singer 김재중?

      ReplyDelete
    27. Hi MzTVXQ,

      Yes, you're right. Kim = 김.

      I put that comment up to show the difference between ㄱ and ㅋ.

      I probably should've given a different example, like Go and Ko in Korea.

      ReplyDelete
    28. It's a good site with great article about korean language, I'm beginner who want to learn Korean Language more and more. I'm just started for two days, but I'm still don't understand the difference to speak ㅈ and ㅊ. Need ur explanation please,
      Thank you.
      love letter .

      ReplyDelete
    29. Hi Nana,

      To give you the simplest explanation for the difference between ㅈ and ㅊ.

      ㅈ is like "j" while ㅊ is like "ch".

      Therefore,
      자 = Ja
      차 = Cha

      주스(Juseu) = Juice
      초(cho) = seconds

      It may also help to listen to their pronunciations repetitively.

      Try the following links:


      http://www.koreanwikiproject.com/wiki/index.php?title=Hangeul_step_3

      http://www.koreanwikiproject.com/wiki/index.php?title=Hangeul_step_4

      ReplyDelete
    30. Hello,
      I have a question about the pronunciation of the word “지금(요)” .
      I heard people pronounced it like : 지금뇨 (ji-geum-Nyo), why the 요 becomes 뇨 (NYO) ?
      Thank you .

      ReplyDelete
    31. Hi Anonymous,
      지금요 is pronounced like 지금뇨 because of the ease of the pronunciation.

      When we say 지금 and 요 separately, we can pronounced them properly, but when we pronounce them together quickly, 지금요, you'd notice that 요 kind of sounds like 뇨.

      I think it's probably due to the fact that 금's final consonant "m" is translated to the next character 요(yo).

      So Ji-Geum-Yo → Ji-GeumNyo

      Additionally, 지금요 should be written as 지금이요 in written Korean. However, when we speak we say 지금요 as it's simpler to pronounce.

      Hope this provided a bit of explanation for it!

      ReplyDelete
    32. Thank you so much Luke for your excellent explanation. Have a wonderful day.

      ReplyDelete
    33. i'm a confused by the final consonant part. is 못에요 pronounced as moteyo or moseyo? i've heard people pronounce it as moteyo, but according to your rules, it should be moseyo.

      ReplyDelete
    34. Hi Anonymous,

      I think you're referring to 못해요, which means "I can't do it."

      못해요 is pronounced 모태요(mo-te-yo).

      ReplyDelete
    35. Hi,

      i was just wondering 버 is said po right? but why is 아버지 said bo instead of po. A lot of other consonants are like this too. Can you explain to me why? if this is a special grammar rule, can you please explain to me the rule.

      Just another question, why is 박민영 said park min young instead of park mi noung since isn't there a rule saying that the final consonant need to move to the next syllable ?

      thank you so much for your help, your site is so helpful :)

      please reply

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Anonymous,

        버 is pronounced bo (or beo), not po.

        퍼 is po (or peo).


        As for the pronunciation of 박민영, it's pronounced 박미녕, because the final consonant, ㄴ in 민 becomes a initial consonant in 영.

        So if I write that in English, park min young would be like "park mi nyoung"

        Delete
    36. Hi, I would like to ask about the "ㅅ" irregular. When I see for example 낫 + 아 it will become:
      나아 ? is it only in pronunciation? or in writing as well? Would you explain more about it please? Thank you

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Anonymous,

        낫아 would be pronounced as 나사.

        낫 means 'sickle' or 'scythe' and it's pronounced "Not"

        낫아 is written as it is but it's pronounced as 나사 in spoken Korean.

        Delete
    37. Hi Luke,

      What is the difference in sound between:

      ㅓ, ㅔ and ㅐ
      ㅛ andㅕ
      ㅞ and ㅙ

      Thanks a lot!

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi jonkun,

        Please refer to the links on these vowels and vowel combinations as that would help you distinguish the difference between them more clearly.

        Cheers.

        Delete
    38. Hi.. how to wrote Canada in hangeul? Is it 가나다 , 카나다 or 캐나다.
      Thanks

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Desi,

        Canada is 캐나다 in Korean.

        Cheers. :-)

        Delete
    39. Hi.. ho wto write Canada in hangeul? is

      it 캐나다 , 카나다 , or 가나다 .

      Thanks

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Desi,

        It's 캐나다.

        Cheers :-)

        Delete
    40. hello... i'm katrin... please help me translate this to hangul and pronunciation too.. thank you..


      There’s a love song i’ve heard
      But it felt strange and weird
      I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t sing
      My heart is out of tune so long ago

      If I could find love again,
      Would it be like a morning sun?
      What should I do, what should I do?
      Couldn’t remember how to say I love you..

      It’s a sad destiny, but I’m gonna start again
      I’ll sing with the birds, I’ll dance with the wind
      It’s love I found in you
      I love you, love you, love you…

      There’s a love song I’ve heard
      It felt wonderful and weird
      I’ll sing with you, I’ll dance with you
      I love you, love you, love you…

      You’re my love song
      I love you…


      >>thanks a lot...

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Katrin,

        I suggest Lang-8 for the translation,

        as for the pronunciation, I suggest try Google translate rather than Romanised characters, as Romanised version often do not represent true pronunciations.

        Delete
    41. Dear Luke - you're doing a great service to mankind by creating this blog (well... maybe not the whole mankind.. but K-drama n K-pop fans for sure!).

      Thank you sooooo much! It truly helped a lot if you wish to learn Korea to know the spelling..

      *Mona*

      ReplyDelete
    42. I still don't understand why the pronouncation of 없어 is eobseo and not eobeo?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Brian,

        ㅅ in 없 is moved to 어.
        Therefore the pronunciation of 없어 becomes 업서 (eobseo) and NOT 업어.

        Actually, 업어 would be pronounced as 어버 because ㅂ in 업 is moved to 어.

        Hope this helps with your question.

        Cheers.

        Delete

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