Lesson 35 (Beginner 2B Lesson 3): Grammar, Grammar, Grammar

First, an explanation...

... that no one asked for. (If anyone is actually reading this for the Korean content then skip ahead to the next section.)

I tried to write this post last week, but evidently could not, because apart from a link to a relevant How to Study Korean webpage, this was what was in it:

I can't do this now sorry ;(

I've had Lesson 36 earlier today.

This past week was insane for a number of reasons. I spent most of my Sunday afternoon and evening after church (livestream of course) trying to organise, or, more accurately, reorganise my computers to follow the PARA system after reading quite a bit on it.

Monday and Wednesday evenings I have other lessons. This past Tuesday I was doing more organising on my work laptop after getting this reorganisation done for my personal computers, along with an more-than-usual number of meetings. Thursday I was also in some meetings in the morning, and the afternoon it was polling duties. Throughout the week I was also preparing for polling duties. Friday (yesterday) was polling day and I was on duty the whole day essentially. I had a lot of last-minute "studying" to do because I only got news that I had to do this duty 2 weeks prior (afaik it's a lottery system who gets called apparently and you can get called as long as you are in the public service though I've also heard that once you get called for one election your chances of being called again in subsequent elections are higher). I only received e-learning materials and yet somehow I knew more than those who had known they were to be on duty. Sigh. I would like to say they are irresponsible, but I know how "life" can get in the way, and, well, it's not my place to judge.

Not to say that I was just working. On some nights I was playing Path of Exile with a few colleagues when I really should have just taken the chance to go to bed, but when I spend all day working I just feel like I need that break (and I don't want to get left behind too).

Anyway, that's the long story of it all. I stayed up late last night/this morning long enough to hear the first few results being announced before falling asleep (not suprising given I was up since 5am)... and even today I'm actually pretty tired, but work is work and I have to get things done. (I also forgot to switch off one 5am alarm that I'd set for the day before so when it rang I decided to just check the results of the elections before heading back to bed.)

I don't really like to talk about politics cos I don't usually get involved (and I think there's some guilt/baggage because I know I should care more and in that sense fight for what matters) but I really think that the government messed up bad with calling an election in the middle of the whole pandemic. The whole last-minute "arrow" I received to do this was just ridiculous among other things and the whole logistics nightmare and inconsistent procedure (as told to me by friends/relatives who are just members of the public and observed the lapses compared to the official announcement). Fortunately it wasn't that bad and there were no insane queues for my polling station since it was a small one. There were definitely issues that I observed but it's not something I'm supposed to talk about, so I shall not.

The results speak for themselves. I'm honestly surprised about the results for my area since obviously the ruling party won, but the opposition did better than I expected regardless. Okay, that's probably enough rambling on this.

Today I'm still in a weird zombie-like state with not much energy but... eh, writing this post seems to be doable for now, so I shall get to it. (Edit after I'm done: It was hard to do, took me over 2 hours and I had to force myself to push through to the end. ╥﹏╥)

Lesson 35

This is the first lesson in July, and the teacher was at the school (and not at what I presume to be her house) since they had reopened for physical in-the-classroom lessons (though my lessons will be online since most of us preferred it that way).

In this lesson we covered the first 3 grammar points. If I recall correctly we didn't have a lot of small-group practices (but we more than made up for it today in Lesson 36).

Okay, there were actually 3 things in this original note, not just the first 2 I mentioned above:

  1. The "I can't do this message"
  2. The How to Study Korean relevant lesson link
  3. "In Korea" - this was a reference to how elections are conducted in Korea, in view of the (then) upcoming elections here on 10 July.

For some reason I'd started to write in my digital notebook and realised that I normally don't record the details for my Korean lesson digitally but on the physical worksheets, so that's why it was just those 2 words.

I thought I wrote down what the teacher said about the elections process in Korea but I do not see the notes anywhere. I think what the teacher said was that it was not compulsory to vote in Korea, and that you could also vote before the actual day. So what many Koreans do is to use the public holiday as a holiday (for vacation).

I know one person didn't attend the lesson and it's definitely one of the 2 newer classmates, but it shouldn't be the one who has the same Korean name as the previous teacher. It's the other person who tended to sit in a dark room. I'm a little confused because she (the one with the same name) wasn't here today, while the other person was.


There was also a word quiz this lesson... and the questions were much simpler than I expected as it was just to convert one thing in the sentence and not something more complex that involved multiple things to change... though one question had that as an extended answer.


  1. 이름이 뭐예요?
  2. 할머니 나이는 일흔이세요.
  3. 이 사람은 우리 어머니세요.
  4. 아버지는 지금 방에 있어요.
  5. 할머니는 지금 자요.
  6. 할머니, 생일 축하해요!
  7. 사장님, 집이 어디세요?
  8. 어머니는 커피를 안 마셔요.


  1. 성함어떻게 되세요?
  2. 할머니 연세는 일흔이세요.
  3. 은 우리 어머니세요.
  4. 아버지는 지금 방에 계세요.
  5. 할머니는 지금 주무세요.
  6. 할머니, 생신 축하해요!
  7. 사장님, 이 어디세요?
  8. 어머니는 커피를 안 드세요.


1. N1(의) N2

This is used to express a relationship between two nouns, where the first noun (N1) possesses the second noun (N2).

This is translated to 's ~ or of ~ in English. It is equivalent to the Chinese 的.

The grammar is simple, but pay attention to the pronunciation: When used this way, 의 is pronounced [에].

This was new to me and I'd not realised this though I've definitely seen 의 used this way, especially in Duolingo (where there was audio in some cases).


  1. 이거는 나나 책이에요. (This is Nana's book.)
    • = 이거는 나나책이에요.
  2. 이분은 앤디 씨 선생님입니다. (This person is Andy's teacher.)
    • = 이분은 앤디 씨 선생님입니다.
  3. 누구(의) 가방이에요? 친구예요. (Whose bag is this? It's my friend's.)
  4. 크리그는 제니 남편이에요. (Chris is Jenny's husband.)

In casual conversation, 의 can be omitted. However, we also have the second example in the notes, and I realise I don't know if the second sentence without the 의 is something that will be said normally over the first, since it's technically not casual, not only because you are using honorific speech, but also formal speech.1

Additionally, instead of saying 저의 you say 제 for something that is "mine", as shown in the last example.

For the first person pronouns, you add a stroke ㅣ:

  • 저의 = 제 (as we have seen)
  • 나의 = 내

Finally, don't get confused if there is another subject which is another noun, as in the last example. When we had to fill in the blanks for this exercise in the worksheet, I recall getting confused and wanting to place the 의 after the subject particle (은/는).

2. N을/를 잘하다 [잘 못하다, 못하다]

This is used to express whether someone is good at something (잘하다), so-so at something (잘 못하다) or bad at something (못하다).

  • 잘 = well
  • 못 = poorly

And so:

  • 잘하다 = I do this well / I'm good at doing this
  • 잘 못하다 = I am not so good at doing this
  • 못하다 = I am very poor at doing this

You can use this with all the 하다 verbs that we have learnt. By itself, 잘 is an adverb (and so is 못) and so can be used with other verbs (though in that case you'd place a space between the 잘 and the verb... and this is the part where I point you to the How to Study Korean lesson that explains the difference).

Note that when you use 못하다 it really means that you are very bad at something or cannot do it entirely. So for example we cannot say that we are bad at Korean (한국말을 못해요) because we can definitely speak a few sentences.

For this, the pronunciation is also tricky:

  • 잘해요 is [자래요], though [잘해요] is okay.
  • 못해요 is [모태요], and you have to get the aspirated t sound (/tʰ/, for the ㅌ in 태) correct.

We had a few example nouns to which we could add 하다 to and we had to pick one of the three options.

Examples (these aren't all true statements about me):

  1. 저는 수영을 잘해요. (I'm very good at swimming.)
  2. 저는 한국말을 잘 못해요. (I'm so-so at Korean.)
  3. 저는 요리를 못해요. (I'm very poor at cooking. ⇒ I can't cook at all.)
  4. 저는 노래 잘했어요. (I was very good at singing.)

3. N(이)세요

This is the honorific form of -이에요/예요 and is used when the subject of the sentence is superior to the speaker in age or social status.

It is never used to speak of yourself; you would use 이에요/예요.

  1. 받침 O + 이세요
  2. 받침 X + 세요


  1. 저분은 로주 씨의 선생님이세요. (That person over there is Rose's teacher.)
  2. 이분은 우리 어머니세요. (This person is my mother.)
  3. 어머니는 전에 회사원이셨어요. (My mother was previously a company employee.)
  4. 저는 선생님이에요. (I am a teacher.)

In the first grammar point, we had a similar sentence to the first example but uses formal speech: 이분은 앤디 씨의 선생님입니다.

The difference? My current understanding of the difference is that the formal speech is used because of the social setting (e.g. in a formal presentation) but does not necessarily convey a respect for the person you are talking about. It would be more similar in level of respect to that person as when using 이에요/예요.

However, using (이)세요 conveys respect for the person you are speaking of (i.e. honorific speech). There is, as far as I can tell form looking at Wiktionary conjugation tables, a formal form that is honorific as well. Basically, adding 시 is what adds this honorific dimension (thanks Memrise for helping me with that2), though it combines with other stuff and you usually see it as 세 (in the present tense) and 셨 (in the past tense).


Korean English Notes
한국의 수도 the capital city of Korea Another example of 의
한국말 Korean language (spoken) It is more of the sproken language. You have this for Chinese too (중국말) but for English it's just 영어, though I'm uncertain if English is an exception because all languages are generally country name + 어 but that's not the case of English as it's not 영국어
한국어 반 친구 Korean classmate classmate in Korean class
동아리 (school) club aka CCA
같은 과 same department/same major (university) 같은 과 친구 is someone from the same major

About the Title

I gave up on a good title. It's a reference to the 3 grammar points. It's not quite possible to have the 3 grammar points to make a sentence, since the first is for possession, the second is on doing something well/not well, and the third is an honorific form for "to be". At most I'd use 2 of them but then it would leave one out.

  1. I talk a bit more about this later under the third grammar point, but this isn't technically "honorific" speech, it's honorific insofar that it uses 분 instead of 사람 at the beginning of the sentence, but the verb itself isn't actually conjugated to the honorific formal form (if I understand correctly since we've not been taught that yet). 

  2. First, Memrise actually says it is something that "makes polite phrase" and not honorific speech, so it's something I'm assuming by putting two and two together. Second, because of trying to link to this I realised that Memrise actually released (yet) another set of Korean courses... and the one that I've linked to isn't the one you'd search and find on their website anymore. 

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

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