notes on things I'm learning. currently: Korean

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. 

Lesson 34 (Beginner 2B Lesson 2): Beginning a New Book

We finished up with the first textbook (1A) within the first 15 minutes, which was just the pronunciation and the self-check sections.

For the new textbook we went through the contents for an overview of what we will be covering in the 1B book.

Finally, there's a vocab quiz next week. I think it would be quite challenging, as there has to be some conversion of sentences done for the honorific speech.

I hope the Quizlet deck gets assigned soon before I start putting in my own cards into Anki... and then have dupes when the Quizlet deck is added and I import those.

On a side note, I found some other public decks on the teacher's account, including one set for the irregular ㄷ conjugation for Chapter 8, so I imported that to Anki.


This is more about the intonation.

  • 지금 숙제해요. (I'm doing homework now.)
  • 같이 숙제해요. (Let's do the homework together.)

The difference in the two 요s is that in the first, it's much shorter. The second one is longer.

Basically, the rule is that when you have a sentence where the meaning is "let's do something" (called propositive sentences) then you would say it such that the 요 is longer.

I actually found it quite hard to pronounce. I understand it, and I can hear the difference, but it's really quite a challenge to produce this on command at this point.

If you didn't check out the linked HiNative answer, the TL;DR between propositive and imperative sentences in Korean is that in the former you are making a suggestion but the listener has a choice whether to do it or not, but for the imperative it's a command and they must do it.


The Chapter 9 content for this lesson has been all vocabulary, with quite a bit of cultural and contextual notes which I've outlined either in the notes or in their own sections below this table.

Korean English Notes
할아버지 grandfather can be used to refer to passers by who are elderly that you are not related to
할머니 grandmother can be used to refer to passers by who are elderly that you are not related to
외할아버지 maternal grandfather 외 = 外
외할머니 maternal grandmother
아빠 dad
아버지 father Different families will use either 아빠 (casual) or 아버지 (formal).
엄마 mom
어머니 mother Different families will use either 엄마 (casual) or 어머니 (formal).
형제 siblings
(male's) older brother See this post for more information about older siblings. This was when I figured it out after learning from Yonsei University's course.
오빠 (female's) older brother
누나 (male's) older sister
언니 (female's) older sister
동생 younger sibling
남동생 younger brother
여동생 younger sister
외동 only child
부모님 parents includes the respect term 님
친척 relatives
남편 husband
아내 wife
아들 son
삼촌 uncle Literally because he is 3촌 away from you. More notes below.
사촌 cousin Literally because he is 4촌 away from you
가족 family 家族
운전 driving 运转
수학 math 数学
역사 history 历史
미인 beautiful woman 美人
사장님 president of a company 社长. 님 is the respectful ending; you wouldn't use it when describing yourself, as the position is just called 사장, e.g. 저는 사장이에요.
이쪽 this literally this side or this way; you could use it when you are pointing to someone next to you and introduce them by saying 이쪽은 스티븐이에요.
전에 in the past
N에 다니다 to attend on a regular basis This is when you are going someplace regularly, say weekly or daily. Even for an online class, you can say 한국어 수업에 다녀요. If it is clear, it is another way to say your occupation. A student could say: 저는 학교에 다녀요. An office worker could say: 저는 회사에 다녀요. Can also be used for working in a bank, etc.
친절하다 to be kind 亲切. Pronunciation is like [친저라다], the ㅎ is almost silent.
멋있다 to be stylish; to be cool Normally used for guys, but you could apparently use this for girl crushes too. (Though I'm not sure what qualifies as a girl crush...)
인사하다 to greet 人事. This is all the hi/bye greetings. "인사하세요." is when you ask someone to say hi to someone else.
뭘요. Not really. This is a stock reply you can give when someone 1) thanks you or 2) praises/compliments you. It literally means "For what?" so when someone thanks you and you say this you are saying it was not a big deal at all.
N한테서 from someone 스티븐 한테서 들었어요. = I heard it from Steven.
10 All these are native Korean numbers.
스물 20
서른 30
마흔 40
50 It's like middle age, half of 100, so take a break (rest), like 쉬다. (I am not sure if this is simply a mnemonic device or if it's actually true...)
예순 60
일곱 70
여든 80
아흔 90
100 I'd learnt all these on my own before looking them up, thought 100 was 온? Clearly this is the Sino-Korean number.
높임말 honorific speech
성함 name (hon.)
나이 age
연세 age (hon.) Funnily, the way I remember this is because I know Yonsei University. They have the same Hangeul, but different Hanja. It's 年岁 for this, but for the university, it's 延世 (which derives from the first syllables of the names of the 2 institutions that merged together to form it). You would not use this unless the person is at least in their 60s. See the note below for birthday.
house (hon.)
person (hon.) This both serves as the counting noun 명 and as the word for person 사람.
생신 birthday (hon.) 생일, but you would not use it unless the person is at least in their sixties. (The teacher who I think is at most in her 40s - I'd say she looks like she's in her 30s but she's wayyy to experienced to be that young - said she would be shocked to hear this said to her. For teachers you know it's 선생님 so usually you would use honorific speech.
계시다 to be there 있다. This and the other verbs here we've seen before when studying making requests with V-(으)세요... which was also when we last saw numbers.
드시다 to eat/drink 먹다/마시다
주무시다 to sleep 자다

My Family, House, and Country

Normally you would use 제 to refer to my (thing). That is the first person singular.

However, for your family members (typically your seniors), house, and country, you use 우리 instead.

우리 literally means we or us, and it is the first person plural.

  • You use it even when you are the only child and are talking about your mother: 우리 어머니.
  • You use it even when you are the only person living in your house: 우리 집
  • You also use it when you refer to your husband, even though you don't share your husband with anyone else: 우리 남편

Family: 촌 System

The 촌 (from 村, meaning village) is used to count how far away someone in the family tree is from you.

In this system, the family boundary is 8촌 (팔촌). If another person is within the family boundary, you cannot marry them.

You can only go up and down, not "sideways" along a tree. This is why your uncle is called 삼촌 and is 3촌 away:

  • 1촌 between you and your father
  • 2촌 between you and your grandfather (father's father)
  • 3촌 between you and your grandfather's son, i.e. your uncle

It's not 2촌 because although your uncle is your father's brother (or mother's, but let's just take an example which illustrates the point), you cannot go "sideways" along the connection. You have to draw the connection up to your grandfather and then back down.

This is also why your cousin (uncle's son) is 4촌 away and called 사촌.

Native Numbers (Age)

I think this is the last time we will see numbers (as a topic of their own), but there are still some notes on their use.

Naturally everyone in class had to cough up their ages and reveal it. It was a revealing day, since before this when doing the family portion we had to talk about how many people were in our family and who they were.

Half the class (3) are in their 20s (이십대), and the other half (another 3) are in their 30s (삼십대).

The numbers 20-50 are used very often.

Note that 20 has a "special" form (스무) when used with unit nouns. But only for 20, for the rest of the 20s you use the original form.

  • 스무 살 (20 years old)
  • 스물 한 살 (21 years old; but notice 하나 is 한)

60-90 are not used as much. Many tend to use the Sino-Korean numbers instead of the native numbers, even when it is technically not the correct expression.

To say someone is 71 years old:

  • 일흔 한 살 is the correct expression
  • 칠십일 is also acceptable

However, the 60-90 range numbers do bear some similarity to their single-digit counterparts 6-9, which makes them easier to remember.

Honorific Speech

This is used to give respect to the person that you are talking about. It is expected when you are talking about someone that is older or higher in social status.

It is not necessarily the person that you are talking to, but it could be.

Consequently, the subject of the sentence must be the listener (second person) or a third person, and never the speaker (first person).

Note: Different languages have different types of honorific speech; it turns out that the T–V distinction in Indo-European languages like French (tu/vous) and Italian (tu/voi) is also a form of honorifics. The term comes from the Latin pronouns.

This section is give examples on how it's for talking about others.

So if someone uses honorific speech on you, you cannot use that form in your reply. It would be weird!

For example if you go to a restaurant and they ask how many people are in your party:

  • 이세요?

Your reply (for a party of 3) would be:

  • 이요.

Similarly, if someone asks you (and your name is Nana) if you eat meat:

  • 나나 씨는 고기를 드세요?

Your reply would be (if you do eat meat):

  • 네, 먹어요.

Agreement with Various Subjects

This came up in my German class today, it's about agreement or (Kongurenz auf Deutsch).

It's what happens when you have two subjects, joined in a "koordinativ" way. (I'm not sure what is the correct way to translate this, and what are the correct concepts in English.)

Examples include using:

  • und
  • sowohl... als auch
  • weder... noch

If you have 1st person and 2nd person, then it's 1st person plural:

  • Ich und du gehen... (=Wir gehen)

If you have 2nd and 3rd person, it can be either 2nd person plural (more common), or 3rd person plural:

  • Weder du noch deine Frau seid... (=Ihr seid)
  • Weder du als noch deine Frau sind... (=Sie sind)

We also had an interesting discussion last week about the use of "zu" before an infinitive, specifically, why does it appear when you have multiple verbs, but not for modal verbs.

Also last week (today being the last day) I decided to finally claim that Legendary achievement in Duolingo (which is to finish #1 in Diamond league). All I can say is, never again, even when it was only ~4k XP for me. It's not worth it, I had to pour extra time into Duolingo that would have been better used for other activities.

Lesson 33 (Beginner 2B Lesson 1): This Lesson is Surprising

It's the same 6 people in this new term. At least for now. We are still having the lessons online until at least the end of July.

Since the lockdown measures have eased, there was a poll to ask whether we'd want to have lessons at the school after June, but I chose (and apparently so did the majority) to have the classes online.

I think apart from the commute taking time, it's the whole having to go out and being on public transport for an extended period, plus you still have to wear a mask and practise safe distancing. It's just that much easier online.

We are almost done with Chapter 8 (as far as I can tell, we only have the pronunciation and the self-check left), which is the last chapter in the 1A textbook.

And yes, we had another writing assignment which I've yet to complete. It really feels like we flew by this chapter.


3. 이[그, 저] + N

Attach 이, 그, 저 to nouns to indicate their location.

Previously, we learnt 이거, 그거 and 저거 which are used to indicate "this (thing)", "that (thing)", and "that (thing) over there" respectively.

Actually, 거 literally means "thing" or "(that) one", so you can remove 거 in the 3 cases and replace it with any noun.

However, you need to include a space between 이, 그 and 저 and any noun.


  • 이 차 = this car
  • 그 책 = that book
  • 저 가방 = that bag over there

As a reminder:

  • 이 (this): close to the speaker
  • 그 (that): close to the listener, or not in sight, or previously mentioned in conversation
  • 저 (that over there): far from speaker and listener, but still in sight

4. A/V-네요

This is used to express the feeling of surprise about a fact that the speaker has come to know.

It will not be something that the speaker already knows. There is no exact English translation for this, as it would simply translate to the present (or past) tense form.

Regardless if there is batchim (받침) or not, you simply add -네요 to the stem for present tense. (This means from the dictionary form, you remove 다.)

For the past tense, you conjugate the past tense form, and replace 어요 with 네요.


  • 날씨가 덥네요. (The weather is hot.)
  • 사진을 잘 찍네요. (He takes good pictures./He is a good photographer.)
  • 하늘이 맑네요. (The sky is clear.)
  • 우유가 없네요. (There's no milk.)
  • 눈이 왔네요. (It snowed.)

Note the pronunciation, due to 네, there's quite some changes:

  • 덥네요: [덤네요]
  • 찍네요: [찡네요]
  • 맑네요: [망네요]
    • Since 맑 usually is [막], you have ㄱ + ㄴ resulting in the ㅇ (-ng) sound, as per [찡네요].
  • 없네요: [엄네요]
  • 왔네요: [완네요]

Culture Note

The culture note for this chapter is about blind dates. Perhaps more accurately, it's about dating culture?

There are 3 types of blind dates:

  1. 미팅
  2. 소개팅

미팅 (Group Blind Date)

The first, 미팅, is taken from the English word "meeting", but means a group blind date.

It is most common among university students. Usually it's one a guy and a girl who knew each other previously (such as in high school) invite their friends to go for this date together.

So the girl will invite her friends, and the guy his friends, and they come together for this date. If any of the friends are interested in each other, they would exchange numbers.

소개팅 (Blind Date)

The second is called 소개팅, which means "introduction" (소개) + "meeting" (팅, from "meeting" 미팅).

This is common for both university students and for people who have just started working.

Usually it's a friend or colleague that will suggest for his two friends (who have not met each other) to go on such a date, and the pair go on the date by themselves, meeting one-on-one.

선 (Blind Dating for Marriage)

This is the serious one, and the setting is much more formal. Usually such a meeting is set up by a family member (naturally a senior member, e.g. parents or grandparents and not siblings), and the people who go on such a date do so with the intention of marriage.

The verb for this is 선을 보다. I couldn't find the 선 that this 선 refers to since there's quite a few things that 선 can mean...


Korean English Notes
치킨 fried chicken
치킨집 fried chicken shop (restaurant)
데이트하다 to go on a date
식혜 Sikhye a sweet rice drink
광고 advertisement 廣告 (广告)
언어교육원 language education institute 언어 (言语) means "language".
운동장 stadium
미팅 group blind date Blind date with a group of friends, common among students in university. If a boy and girl knew each other say in high school, each would invite their friends (of their respective gender) to this group blind date. Their friends, if they have interest in each other, would exchange contact numbers.
소개팅 blind date This is usually when a mutual friend suggests that two of his friends meet up one-to-one. These two friends would not have met before. 소개팅 is kind of a portmanteau of "introduction" (소개) + "meeting" (팅).
소개하다 to introduce
formal blind date 선을 보다 = to have a blind date (typically arranged by a senior in the family) for the purpose of marriage
웃어른 senior Wiktionary says it's pronounced [우서른] but I'm hearing 우더른, a bit like how 맛없다 is [마덥따]?
원숭이 monkey
사용자명 username 사용자 = 使用者 (user); 명 = 名 (name)
서버 server
멤버 member
개인 메시지 private message 개인 = 個人
추가하다 to add 친구 추가하기 = add a friend (button label)

About the Title

"This lesson" refers to the third grammar point for attaching 이 to nouns. "Surprising" refers to the last grammar point. I think it would have been confusing to indicate the culture note about dating, so I left that out.

Lesson 32 (Beginner 2A Lesson 8): Shall we go by foot?

We started the lesson with using Quizlet for revision. This is the first time since... well, the beginning of this term. It was still the groups competition (2 groups of 3), but since it's individual effort in that sense, it depended on your teammates. The first round I was paired with 2 people from my previous class (including my friend) and we won. The second round we also won, but this was a different group, with one person from my previous class (the same as in the first round, but not my friend) and one classmate who is new for this term, from another class. We probably restarted like twice since someone answered wrongly, that's how it goes. I thought we were gone but in the other team too, someone answered incorrectly and we won by a narrow margin.

For some strange reason the most common word that both groups tripped over was 크다 (to be big). In our second ronud, when I said we restarted twice, it's because someone chose 크다 as the answer wrongly twice.

In this lesson, we went through the first 2 grammar points of this chapter.

There was also some exposure to telling time (just examples with the hours with native numbers + 시 and also 반 for half hours) in some of the sentences for today for the first grammar point. If I am not mistaken, this is the first time seeing it in my course, though I'd already seen them in First Step Korean, and so I was able to explain it to my conversation partner in one of the breakout rooms. But the actual introduction of telling time comes later still.


1. V-(으)ㄹ까요?

This is used to make suggestions or ask the listener's permission or intention about something. You only use this for questions, never in statements.

The subject is not stated. However, the implicit subject of the question is usually "we". Sometimes, it can also be "I", depending on the context.

Important: Be careful with the pronunciation of 까, it is not [카].

The rule is as follows:

  • 받침 O + 을까요?
  • 받침 X or ㄹ + ㄹ까요?

So for example, with 읽다, there is 받침 and so you add 을까요 (since you can't squeeze the ㄹ below), which gives 읽을까요?

  • 책을 읽을까요? (Shall we read a book?)

With 가다, there is no 받침 so you can add the ㄹ below, and then tack on the 까요?

  • 어디에 갈까요? (Where shall we go?)

As mentioned above, you can only use this form for questions. So if someone asks you a question, when you reply, generally you will use the present tense form (아요/어요/해요).

  • 가: 내일 뭐 할까요? (What are you doing tomorrow?)
  • 나: 친구를 만나요. (I'm meeting my friend.)

If you are speaking with close friends and you don't have to be polite or show manners, you can also use 자. Apparently, this is what you will hear when you watch K-dramas.

Naturally, you can add a time element to all questions, and in most cases you will use the particle 에 (See Grammar #2 in Lesson 17):

  • 마날까요? (Shall we meet?)
  • 내일 마날까요? (Shall we meet tomorrow?)
  • 다음 주 금요일에 마날까요? (Shall we meet next Friday?)
    • A side note for saying "next (day of week)" is that 주 is preferred to be there, though technically you can still say 다음 금요일에...

As observed in these examples, the translation for sentences with V-(으)ㄹ까요? is usually "Shall we...?"

However, this is not the only possibility. You can ask about the time or place to do something:

  • 언제 마날까요? (When shall we meet?)
  • 몇 시에 마날까요? (At what time shall we meet?)
  • 어다에서 만날까요? (Where shall we meet?)

The Thing About 뭘

In the textbook (page 189) that covers this grammar point, there's a post-it that talks about this 뭘.

I first came across it in the First Step Korean course on Coursera, and I put this down as a question at the end of the Lesson 29 post.

Basically, the textbook says that:

  • 누구 + 를 → 누구를 → 누굴
  • 뭐 + 를 → 뭐를 → 뭘

So, if you are being proper, the particle will be there. However, in more casual conversations, you'd combine the particle as shown (resulting in 누굴 and 뭘 respectively).

However, in spoken language, you not only combine, but can also omit the particle.

Which is why in many sentences I've seen so far where the object particle 를 should have been, it's not there, and we only have 뭐 and not 뭐를/뭘.

2. 'ㄷ' 불규칙

This is the ㄷ (디귿, di-geut) irregular verb conjugation.

The rule states that for some verb stems ending in 'ㄷ' and are followed by a vowel (i.e. ㅇ, "empty circle" as the teacher calls it), 'ㄷ' changes to 'ㄹ'.

In Chapter 7, we learnt the rule for ㅂ (비읍, bi-eup) 불규칙 irregular verbs (see Lesson 28 - it's more adjectives than verbs, actually). At the time, the teacher also said we'd be learning at least one irregular conjugations in the next chapters, or something along those lines.

Unlike the ㅂ rule which applies more universally to most words, this ㄷ rule does not apply generally to all ㄷ verbs, but only to certain words.

For now, we learn only two of them, but these two are common words in everyday usage, which is why we learn this rule:

  1. 듣다 (to listen)
  2. 걷다 (to walk)

Let's take 듣다 and 걷다, and compare it with 닫다 (to close) which isn't irregular:

-아요/어요 -았어요/었어요 -(으)세요 -(으)ㄹ까요? 지만 -(스)ㅂ니다
듣다* 어요 었어요 으세요 을까요? 듣고 듣지만 듣습니다
걷다* 어요 었어요 으세요 을까요? 걷고 걷지만 걷습니다
닫다 닫아요 닫았어요 닫으세요 닫을까요? 닫고 닫지만 닫습니다

To go by Foot

An example sentence that appeared due to 걷다 (to walk).

걸어서 가요 means to go (somewhere) by foot.


This has come up before, but this was brought up again because of the pronunciation of 어떻게 [어떠케], which appeared in a speaking dialogue in the textbook.

Basically, ㅎ + ㄱ = ㅋ regardless of the order.

  • ㅎ + ㄱ = ㅋ (as in 어떻게 [어떠케])
  • ㄱ + ㅎ = ㅋ (as in 산책하다 [산채카다])


Korean English Notes
춤 추다 to dance
사과하다 to say sorry This happens when the person is too awkward to say 미안하다/죄송합니다 as an apology. In fact, they may not even say 사과하다, but instead give the other person an apple instead, since this literally means "apple-to do".
고백하다 to confess To confess feelings for someone, that is.
닫다 to close e.g. close the door. This was introduced to say that majority of ㄷ-verbs are not irregular.

About the Title

In case for some reason I forget why the post is named as such, it's named for the two grammar points.

The first is usually translated "Shall we...?" and the other one is the irregular ㄷ verb, of which "to walk" is one of them.

The "go by foot" is a reference to the new expression (걸어서 가요), but also because if I said "Shall we go for a walk?" I think the more correct verb to use is 산책하다, and "Shall we walk?" just doesn't sound quite right.

Lesson 31 (Beginner 2A L7): Ending Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 Vocab

We spent the first hour finishing up chapter 7, and the last half an hour going through the vocabulary for chapter 8.

I realised after a week of Zoom meetings this past week (I had a couple of workshops for work), how amazing this teacher is at using Zoom. She switches seamlessly between screen share and then stop sharing, to share different files on different software (some are in MS Word, others are in Adobe Acrobat). The way she uses the annotation tools (okay, yes, that's not exclusive to Zoom). And the speed at which she creates breakout rooms. It's really something I didn't notice until I saw how others struggled with it.

Another good thing that's like air. It's like how good UI and good UX are invisible. Good IA too. Until they are horrible and then they are noticed. Okay, that's a digression.

The remainder of the chapter 7 content that we covered were all from the textbook.

We restarted on page 175, the page with the dialogue of a presentation. We practised that, and also shared something we wrote from the homework, which was an exercise on that page.

There were listening exercises too and then another dialogue about going somewhere, and talking about the weather. I picked Paris because... well, I had no idea how to say any city in Switzerland or even Switzerland in Korean (this is rectified; I've checked and added a few to the vocab list).

Culture Note

The culture note discusses food eaten in summer and winter. Unfortunately I live in the tropics so what is winter? The weather is always hot.

The food items introduced included 팥빙수 (patbingsu), which is red bean shaved ice. 팥 means "red bean" and 빙수 means "shaved ice". Naturally, this is eaten in the summer.

Other varieties of shaved ice exist, such as 딸기빙수 (strawberry shaved ice) and 망고빙수 (mango shaved ice).

It's somewhat similar to the ice kachang dessert here in that they are also shaved ice... though I guess the Taiwanese shaved ice desserts would be even more similar.

Then there is 찐빵 (jjinppang, steamed bread), very similar to the local (bāo), but traditionally this only has red bean paste filling. The local 包 usually... well, for me, I like the meat ones. This is hot food eaten in the winters.

The third item is also eaten in the winter, and it's 봉어빵 (bungeo-ppang, "carp bread"). This is also filled with red bean paste. When I saw the picture, the first thing it reminded me of was taiyaki ("baked sea bream"). Yes, it turns out that bungeo-ppang was derived from taiyaki, and the type of fish it was modelled after changed... though... I have to admit I'd not looked closely at the type of fish before this.

There is also of course 삼계탕 (samgye-tang), the famous ginseng chicken soup.

I say famous because this is the one thing that I know every Korean tour I've been on (two, the last one being... something like in 2009), we ate this thing and I still remember it. I have to confess that I never knew the Korean name, and thus on Memrise, never made the connection. Memrise's Korean course has this word, but the English "translation" is "samgyetang" which is completely unhelpful.

This is eaten on extremely hot summer days, although the soup is hot, because it is a way to "fight fire with fire" (이열치열, from 以熱治熱). Though, I realise the Chinese expression I am familiar with is 以毒攻毒, to "fight poison with poison". But at the same time, I think the heat aspect isn't too unfamiliar, I think it refers to "heaty" foods (fried foods are an example, and I think ginseng too). Something to do with yin and yang, heaty and cooling foods, which I don't really get too, but basically there's this concept that you shouldn't eat too much heaty foods or you'd get sick... not that I really know what is considered heaty or not. Usually it's something my mother says and I... uh, conveniently forget.

Naturally, there is also 이냉치냉 (以冷治冷), though this is not as common as the "hot" variant. So on really cold winter days, they eat 냉면 (cold noodles).


The pronunciation rule for chapter 7 lays out what we have already seen in:

  1. Lesson 23 on the numbers
  2. Lesson 29 with formal speech

Lesson 23:

십만 [심만] ... softening the sound when the previous end consonant meets the ㅁ (m) of the next syllable

Lesson 29:

The ㅂ sound is softened to [ㅁ] because of the ㄴ sound that follows. It is [슴니다] and not [습니다]. And it's [함니다] not [합니다].

The rule states that when the final consonant sound [ㅂ] is followed by a syllable that begins with ㄴ or ㅁ, then [ㅂ] is prounounced as [ㅁ].


  1. 입니다 [임니다]
  2. 배웁니다 [배움니다]
  3. 십만 [심만]


This section includes vocabulary for both chapter 7 (new things that came up in the lesson today) and chapter 8.

Korean English Notes
박물관 museum 루브르 박물관 = The Louvre Museum
야시장 night market
사우나 sauna
스위스 Switzerland
베른 Bern
취리히 Zurich
로잔 Lausanne
레만호 Lac Léman (Lake Geneva)
제네바 Geneva
제네바주 Canton of Geneva
보주 Canton of Vaud
이탈리아 Italy Italia
베네치아 Venice Venezia
롬바르디아주 Lombardy Lombardia
밀라노 Milan Milano
빙수 shaved ice 氷水
팥빙수 red bean shaved ice (patbingsu) dessert, sort of similar to ice kachang (ais kacang)
찐빵 steamed bread (jjinppang) very similar to 包 (bāo), but normally the filling is red bean paste
붕어빵 bungeo-ppang "carp bread", fish-shaped pastry stuffed with sweetened red bean paste.
삼계탕 Korean ginseng chicken soup (samgye-tang) 蔘鷄湯
이열치열 to fight fire with fire 以熱治熱, "to fight heat with heat", such as eating the hot Korean ginseng chicken soup on an extremely hot summer's day
이냉치냉 to fight cold with cold 以冷治冷
작년 last year 昨年
처음 beginning; start; first (first time) 저는 작년에 단풍과 눈을 처음 구경했어요. (Last year, I saw autumn foilage and snow for the first time.)
항상 always; all the time
하늘 sky; air; heaven
게임을 하다 to play a game
축구를 하다 to play soccer
농구를 하다 to play basketball
야구를 하다 to play baseball Note that baseball involves hitting (batting), but because there are other actions such as catching, running, etc. in the game, it uses the generic 하다 and not 치다 (see below).
타다 to ride; to take Used for sports where you are "riding" on something. Also for taking a bus, taxi, or riding a horse.
스케이트를 타다 to skate Seems like it can refer to both ice skating and inline skating (rollerblading) from image search.
스키를 타다 to ski
스노보드를 타다 to snowboard
자전거를 타다 to ride a bicycle
치다 to play Used when you have to hit with your hands or with something.
당구를 치다 to play billards
테니스를 치다 to play tennis
배드민턴를 치다 to play badminton
골프를 치다 to play golf
피아노를 치다 to play the piano
기타를 치다 to play the guitar
낮잠을 자다 to take a nap
잠을 자다 to sleep
노래방에 가다 to go to a singing room (karaoke)
찜질방에 가다 to go to a Korean sauna
산책(을) 하다 to stroll; to take a walk
등산(을) 하다 to climb a mountain
여행(을) 하다 to travel
생활 life 生活. You can use it to talk about a life situation and contextualise it, e.g. 학교 생활 = school life, 회사 생활 = working life, 한국 생활 = life in Korea
걷다 to walk This is more general than 산책하다. It would include things like walking for leisure, exercise, going to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or going downstairs to collect the letters. 산책하다 would be more intentional, and for the last two situations you definitely cannot use it.
듣다 to listen
많다 to be a lot N이/가 많다. 일이 많아요. = A lot of work. You can use 많아요 or 많이 있어요, the meaning is the same.
가깝다 to be near This appeared in the last chapter's homework, but since it appeared again, I'm adding it here.
심심하다 to be bored Pronunciation: [심시마다] - though it's still okay if the ㅎ is heard
피곤하다 to be tired Pronunciation: [피고나다] - this one apparently will sound weird if the ㅎ is heard
크다 to be big
어떻게 how Pronunciation: [어떠케]
조금 a little This is sometimes intentionally pronounced shaper or shorter (좀) to emphasise that it is little.
자주 often 자주 + V, e.g. 자주 가요.

Lesson 30 (Beginner 2A L6): And (고)

We are finishing Chapter 7 next week since we covered the last grammar point. That's really fast.

The lesson started with revision of last week's grammar, so with the help of the physical flash cards with pictures on one side and the verb on the other, we had to conjugate for both 지만 and then 습니다/ㅂ니다. There were a few variants. With the verb's infinitive shown or the picture side (which is harder), and we had to do both the present tense and the past tense.

We also went through the textbook for these grammar topics, in addition to the new grammar topic, since we did not touch the textbook in the last lesson.

I mentioned back in the second lesson of this term (Lesson 26) that we had a new student. Well, this was his last lesson as he's going into the army next Friday.

We also got the invoices for the next lesson term. The fee this round includes an extra $35 for the next textbook. Time really flies. It'll soon be a year since I started learning Korean.


Update (16/08/20): See pronunciation rule from Chapter 10 in Lesson 41 for more clarity on this, this may not be the most accurate.

There was also one page on the handout that we did in this lesson. It was an exercise for the third grammar point (A/V-습니다/ㅂ니다), which brought up a pronunciation note (that is also in the textbook, I later saw).

Basically, the ㅆ sound in the syllable-final position (it's a /t/) is hard to pronounce before the 습니다 when you have the past tense, such as in 만났습니다.

So how it's actually pronounced is that instead of [습니다] it becomes [씁니다], and you don't pronounce the /t/ sound with the previous syllable.

  • 만났습니다: [만나씁니다]
  • 먹었습니다: [머거씁니다]


4. A/V-고, N(이)고

The last time we saw 고, it was introduced to list events in order back in Lesson 19.

However, in this case, it does not necessarily mean that the events happen in sequence. (Indeed, it would make no sense for adjectives and nouns.)

This is simply used to connect two clauses that may not be sequential. It's simply "and".

I'm not certain how to distinguish between the two uses for the case of a verb since in some constructions they would be identical, but I think it's like for many things in language: it will depend heavily on context.

Notably for the verb here, the examples abounded with different subjects doing different actions. But back in Lesson 19, most of the sentences were focused on a single subject.

Let's look at some examples for each.


  1. 오렌지가 싸고 맛있어요. (The orange is cheap and delicious.)
  2. 날씨가 춥고 비가 옵니다. (The weather is cold and it is raining.)
    • A small aside here that for 비가 오다, 눈이 오다 and 바람이 불다, when someone asks how is the weather, you do not start with "날씨가". The literal meanings of those phrases: "the rain to come", "the snow to come" and "the wind to blow". Just like you won't say "The weather is the wind is blowing", it doesn't make sense to add the 날씨가.
    • So, by itself: 비가 옵니다.
  3. 어제 날씨가 덥고 맑았습니다. (Yesterday, the weather was hot and sunny.)
    • Notice that if the entire sentence is in the past tense, you do not need to conjugate the 덥 to make it 더웠 as in the case of the "but" sentence where the first half it in the past and the second half is in the present (see the previous lesson).
    • This is also the straightforward version that we were taught also with 고 the first time.


  1. 스티븐은 사진을 찍고 나나는 요리를 했어요. (Steven took pictures and Nana cooked.)
  2. 저는 카페에서 커피도 마시고 숙제도 합니다. (I am drinking coffee and doing my homework at the café.)
    • I'm not doing homework after I drink coffee. The events are not sequential here.
    • The teacher seemed to have said something about using 도 for listing the events, but I'm not certain of its use here. She also mentioned that the events are not in order, but my uncertainty arises from what she's referring to, since the "not in order" part should be about 고, no?


This is the same as what was seen last lesson, that whether you have 이 depends on whether you have batchim or not:

  • 받침 O: 이에요 + 그리고 = 이고
  • 받침 X: 예요 + 그리고 = 고

It's rather interesting that it's meant to be short form of 그리고, which we learnt that it is "and" for connecting clauses and not things (which you will use 하고, and... I also talked about last week).

  1. 저는 학생이고 언니는 회사원이에요. (I am a student and my sister is an office worker.)
  2. 저는 기자고 일본 사람이에요. (I am a reporter and I am Japanese.)


Korean English Notes
농구 basketball
살다 to live e.g. to live in a certain country, 한국에서 살아요.
열대 기후 tropical climate 熱帶氣候
습하다 to be humid
쉬는 시간 break time lit. resting time
스키장에 가다 to go skiing lit. to go to the ski resort
한국어 공부가 어때요? How is your Korean studies going? Refers to the learning journey

Lesson 29 (Beginner 2A L5): Contrasting Clauses and Formal Speech

Today was an intense grammar lesson, covering 2 more grammar points after our word quiz.

What was more interesting was that I found out from my friend, the guy who is still taking the class with me, that our previous teacher actually quit teaching at the school. Or, well, she quit at one point, but now she's back. Or maybe she never left (because of the Covid situation), I don't know. My friend thinks she may be teaching part-time.

Her last day was the day of our last lesson before the break, so that was Lesson 24. I had a sixth sense about this, that she was quitting the school, but I wasn't sure. On the last lesson, I was right on time and missed their informal photo-taking session (which was later posted to the KakaoTalk group) and probably when she mentioned it to them.

Yesterday, he sent me a message with a screenshot from Instagram asking me if the person in the picture was our previous teacher. The picture in that Instagram post by the school included a screenshot of a Zoom meeting (basically, a class), and our previous teacher was in it along with some other people (students, obviously).

I replied today just before the class since I had so many Zoom meetings this past week that the history no longer included the class and I had to dig out the meeting details, saying that it does look like her.

In response, he replied to say that "it seems she came back to teach" and so in my mind, I was like, Wait, what? She left? (It's interesting too because probably a week or so ago, to satisfy my curiosity/sixth sense, I did check the school's website which keeps a list of the teachers, and she was still on the list... and I know they updated it recently since they say it's closed for to the Circuit Breaker period... So, I chalked it up to me having a wrong feeling about this.)

Then he told me about how our last lesson was her last day.

So... it turns out my sixth sense was right.

(Her KakaoTalk name is still without the 선생님 though, which is something I noticed last week or so... basically when I try to submit homework to our current teacher. And... I just read her Korean (actual) name again, I tend to skip that since she puts her English name too, and realised that one of my new classmates basically chose the same Korean name as this other teacher... ok. I'm clearly not very observant.)

Anyway, digression over.

Word Quiz

We started with the word quiz.

There were a list of words we had to write in Korean given their English translations. Some we were to write the basic (dictionary/infinitive) form, for the others we were to write the present tense (casual) form.

I made two mistakes. Maybe I should really consider forcing myself to type, or really write. It feels very unfamiliar to me because I've not actually written the words.

(I wrote 가겁다 instead of 가볍다, and 맑어요 instead of 맑아요. For the second one, I've gotten something similar wrong before with 닦다.)


0. Extra Grammar: 와/과, 하고 and (이)랑

Due to the homework where we were converting a polite-casual speech text to the polite-fromal speech, I decided to use 와/과 in place of 하고 since 와/과 was meant to be formal, right?

(Actually, you definitely can use 와/과 even in the casual 해요체 speech from the textbook examples. I don't know if the converse is true, using 하 instead of 와/과 in formal 하십시오체. I also discovered today that the textbook doesn't really mention 와/과 as being formal, it was all in the additional handout...)

I had to get straightened out on the 와/과 and 하고 thing, whether 와/과 not only means (formal) "and", but also "with", same as 하고.

This site provides the answer: Yes.

This example demonstrates it:

나는 철수와 같이 살아. (I live with Chul Su.)

It's also in the description, but the next sentence goes on to talk about the spoken language thing -(이)랑, which I've not encountered and my brain wasn't up for it.

It's something that I already had a question about some time ago, but never bothered to find out since, hey, I didn't need it. Since, you know, we never learnt 하십시오체 formally (pun was not intended, but, whatever) until today.

Basically, I am lazy and I don't search things all that diligently. More on this when we cover the second grammar point today (third for this chapter).

I went to try to find a source that says 와/과 is formal, and then I came across this article... which does that, but also discusses (이)랑, the thing that I was avoiding in the other link. Sigh. So I ended up finding out about it anyway.

This is also interchangeable and has the same meaning, but you use 랑 if there is no batchim, and 이랑 when there is. (It's actually reminding me of the N(이)지만... which I shall now get into.)

2. A/V-지만, N(이)지만

This is used to connect two contrasting clause. In a nutshell, it functions like "but".

For adjectives (A) and verbs (V), you simply remove the 다 and replace it with 지만. For nouns, if it has batchim, you use N이지만, but if it does not, then you use N지만.


  1. 한국어 공부는 어렵지만 재미있어요. (Studying Korean is difficult but interesting.)
    • Adjective example
  2. 어제는 학교에 갔지만 오늘은 안 가요. (Yesterday I went to school but today I did not.)
    • Verb example
    • Notice the use of 은/는 as the contrast particle. This particle is added to the thing you are comparing, in this case, the time.
    • Lesson 26 covered the different uses of this particle.
  3. 저는 회사원이지만 여동생은 학생이에요. (I am a company employee, but my younger sister is a student.)
    • Noun example
    • The way the teacher described it, the 이 seemed to be part of the 이에요, the "am". So it is only after the fact that I realised that this is in fact the noun example (not verb) as 회사원 is a noun.
    • Again, notice 은/는 being used for contrast.

은/는 is attached to nouns in contrasting clauses. You would generally not use 이/가.

The teacher said that it's not strictly wrong (ungrammatical) to use 이/가, but a sentence like 스티븐 씨 카메라 비싸지만 제 카메라 싸요 sounds unnatural.

One of my classmates asked if it's okay to use 이/가 for the first clause, but 은/는 for the second clause.

The teacher said that that is fine in conversation (e.g. when the speaker isn't sure how he wants to end his sentence), but minimally 은/는 must be used for the second clause.

She said that the advantage of using 은/는 for the first clause is that if she just heard the first clause with 은/는, she would expect to hear a contrast in the second half even before it's been said.

Past Tense (Part 1)

This was where things get a bit... crazy.

Look at the second example above: 어제는 학교에 지만 오늘은 안 가요. (Yesterday I went to school but today I did not.)

  • With present tense, you simply slice off the 다 and attach the stem to 지만.
  • For the past tense, you conjugate it (verb/adjective) into the past tense form, remove the 어요 that comes behind, and add what is left to 지만.

Past tense (casual-polite) of 가다 is 갔어요. So, remove 어요 and you are left with 갔.

For the special ㅂ adjectives from last week, such as 덥다, you have 더웠어요 as the past tense form. This means it becomes 더웠지만.

This isn't the end, because it will also apply to the next grammar point!

3. A/V-습니다/ㅂ니다

I was frankly quite surprised we were tackling 2 grammar points today from the handout. (We didn't touch the textbook today.)

The teacher said that we just needed to remember these two things (set phrases that we have memorised as-is), and we would remember how to do the conjugation:

  1. Nice to meet you: 반갑습니다
  2. Thank you: 감사합니다

The rule is simple. For statements:

  1. If there is batchim, add -습니다
  2. If there is no batchim, add -ㅂ니다

Remember I mentioned above about me being lazy? I should have looked this up and made my life revising on Duolingo that much easier. (Duolingo uses the formal speech for their sentences in most of the exercises.)

It actually makes a lot of sense. If there is batchim, how do you add the ㅂ?

In any case, the ㅂ sound is softened to [ㅁ] because of the ㄴ sound that follows. It is [슴니다] and not [습니다]. And it's [함니다] not [합니다].

  • 읽다 → 읽습니다 [읽슴니다]
  • 보다 → 봅니다 [봄니다]
  • 듣다 → 듣습니다 [듣슴니다]

If it is a question and not a statement, it's not 다, but ? The 다 is replaced with 까 (which we've also seen before in the first chapter).

Past Tense (Part 2)

You know, it actually isn't as mind-blowing when I'm typing this out now, but earlier during the lesson, it was really quite a lot of information to process and then use.

To obtain the past tense form, you do the same as for 지만. Conjugate it to the casual-polite past tense form, remove the 어요, and then add -습니다.

(Because of how the past tense is, I believe you end up always with -습니다 and don't ever add -ㅂ니다.)

  • 읽다 → 읽었어요 → 읽었습니다
  • 보다 → 봤어요 → 봤습니다
  • 듣다* → 들었어요 → 들었습니다

(Ugh, the Markdown strikethrough with ~~ still isn't working I see, so I had to resort to using HTML tags.)

*This is a special conjugation. I encountered this in the First Step Korean course. The teacher said this verb's irregular conjugation will be covered in chapter 8. But really, it's relatively straightforward, the final consonant ㄷ becomes ㄹ.

Whew! The teacher said that chapter 7 is the hardest in this book that we are using. Chapter 8 will be easier. I don't know whether to be sad or happy? I need a break but I also like the challenge.


Korean English Notes
평일 weekday Sino-Korean word from 平日. I am not sure how (or even if) this differs from 주중 (週中) which was taught in the First Step Korean course.
동사 verb Sino-Korean word from 動詞 (动词), which is still the Mandarin Chinese term for it.
형용사 adjective Sino-Korean word from 形容詞 (形容词), which is still the Mandarin Chinese term for it.
축구 soccer


  1. Since we learnt the formal, we learnt also that to ask what someone is doing, instead of 뭐 해요? you ask 무엇을 합니까? We have already encountered 무엇.
    1. What about 뭘? 뭘 came up in the First Step Korean course, but not once in this course I'm taking. Wiktionary says it's actually a contraction of both 무엇을 and 뭐를.
    2. Why is 뭐 special in the sentence, in that the object particle is dropped? Is this another case of it being dropped because it's spoken language?
  2. Since I dug up that post above and answered the first question, the second question is also somewhat cleared up when a classmate asked about 저 and 나, but not entirely. The teacher said that 저 is more polite and formal. 나 very informal and is what children would speak in the home, it's also what you use for family and close friends. I think the point is that both 해요체 and 하십시오체 are polite, they are simply used in different social situations (e.g. 해요체 in a café, 하십시오체 in the office). 나 is really more for... the "not polite" (informal?) speech in that sense. I'm still not entirely clear about the "informal" and "casual" distinction. I believe I have not heard the teacher refer to 해요체 as "informal" but only "casual". I don't know if they are meant to be different. It does not help that I think they are interchangeable (whether they are or not is my question) and have used them interchangeably, partly because it's always "formal" vs "informal" e.g. in French, so I took the "casual" to mean "informal" when it was presented in contrast to "formal". So TL;DR is, does "informal" and "casual" mean the same thing?

It's Raining

It started with the teacher messaging us on KakaoTalk about the weather (as it was raining) a day after the lesson we had on the weather.

Then she asked us what we are going to do today. I said I was studying and then exercising. I still have not replied to her follow-up question one day later on what I am studying (and I thought she asked what kind of exercise) I do because I forgot. (This post was meant to be posted yesterday when this happened but I forgot as well.)

I feel like I was somewhat scammed into studying Korean yesterday. Today, too.

Here is the list of new vocab that I added to Anki. Some are not entirely new, but they are not in my Anki deck, so I added them in and reproduced them here.


Korean English Notes
동네 neighbourhood
씨익 grin (씨익) was the text sent in the KakaoTalk notification, but the message is actually a Sticker (if that's what it's called) of a grinning face
집안일 home-cooked food
자막 subtitles
화이팅 Fighting! You know, what they always say... so this is how it's written.
만두 dumpling
버섯 mushroom
남편 husband
동의하다 to agree 同意

Lesson 28 (Beginner 2A L4): Beginning Chapter 7 with the Weather and One Class of Irregular Verbs

We finished chapter 6 and started on chapter 7 today. For chapter 6, all that was left was really the pronunciation, and then the self-check.

There will be a word (vocab) quiz next week. Perhaps it means that the vocab quiz will always be one week after we start a new chapter?

So today's post will have a lot of the vocabulary, from the chapter 7 list. We also covered the first grammar point, and it's interesting because this cleared up a question I had while doing exercises on Duolingo. (This is one of the reasons I don't like Duolingo.)

The title of chapter 7 is: 날씨가 어떻습니까? It means "How is the weather?" and uses the formal speech conjugation. Obviously, this chapter will be about the weather and also formal speech.

In informal speech, you can ask the question as: 날씨가 어때요?


This chapter's pronunciation rule is about the pronunciation of ㅎ.

Specifically, when ㅎ is the initial consonant in a syllable*, it is pronunced normally. However, if it is the final consonant (batchim), and the next syllable starts with ㅇ, the ㅎ becomes slient.

For example, 좋아요 is pronounced as [조아요].

I kind of knew this before this was mentioned, but not as an explicit rule.

This applies also to syllable blocks with 4 letters which have ㅎ.

For example, 많아요 is prononuced [마나요]. This combines with the other pronunciation rule that if the next syllable starts with ㅇ, the batchim is carried over covered in Lesson 14's post.

*I think it's not just initial consonant in a syllable, but also in a word (or compound word), because there are cases such as in 전화번호, although not explicitly a rule, is pronounced more like [전화버노], with the ㅎ in 호 disappearing almost completely...


Korean English Notes
날씨 weather
덥다 to be hot only used for weather
뜨겁다 to be hot e.g. food, drink
춥다 to be cold only used for weather
차갑다 to be cold e.g. food, drink
따뜻하다 to be warm This has a positive connotation, such as it's warm in cold weather. If you find it's warm and uncomfortable, the correct adjective is 덥다 (to be hot).
시원하다 to be cool
맑다 to be clear (sunny) 좋다 can also be used to describe good weather.
흐리다 to be cloudy
바람이 불다 to be windy lit. wind to blow
비가 오다 to be rainy lit. rain to come
눈이 오다 to be snowy lit. snow to come
계절 season Sino-Korean word from 季節 (季节)
여름 summer
가을 autumn
겨울 winter
가볍다 to be light weight
무겁다 to be heavy
쉽다 to be easy Careful with present tense (informal) conjugation: 쉬워요. It sounds like 쉬어요 (rest). The 워 sound has to be distinctive.
어렵다 to be difficult
맵다 to be spicy
가깝다 to be near
요즘 these days recently, nowadays
단풍 autumn foilage refers to the leaves that are red/orange/yellow in colour
수영장 swimming pool
바다 sea
생선 fish This refers to fish that you buy in the supermarket for eating, i.e. dead fish (seafood)
물고기 fish This refers to fish that are alive and well, e.g. your pet fish, the ones that swim in an aquarium or in the ocean. It's sort of ironic because it literally means "water meat", but this is not to describe the fish that is eaten, whereas words like 돼지 고기, 닭고기 are pork and chicken (meat) for eating
이야기하다 to talk 이야기 means "story", so this is literally to share a story.
입다 to wear
아주 very e.g. 아주 더워요. (It's very hot.)
조금 a little e.g. 조금 어려어요. (It's a little difficult.)


From this chapter onwards, we will start to look at some exceptions in terms of conjugation, that is, irregular verbs, starting with this first rule.

1. 'ㅂ' 불규칙

When some verbs or adjectives end in the final consonant 'ㅂ' are followed by a vowel (i.e. the next syllable begins with 'ㅇ'), 'ㅂ' changes to '우'.

The teacher says that verbs are very rare, 99.9% of the time, this rule applies to adjectives.

This is why it is 더워요 and 추워요, even though the infinitive forms are 덥다 and 춥다.

We had encountered 더워요 and 추워요 back in the foundation class when learning the Korean alphabet. Later, when we went on to learn the present tense conjugation in Lesson 12, and how 배우다 conjugates to 배워요, I thought 더워요 had the infinitive form of 더우다 (and similarly, 추우다 for 추워요).

This was why I was stumped with my Duolingo exercises. The thing about Duolingo is it generally uses the formal conjugation (하십시오체) instead of (해요체). So in the lesson on adjectives, I was scratching my head as to why it was ...춥습니다. We had not (and still have not, but will in this chapter) learnt about conjugating to the formal form, though we encountered a few "stock" phrases/sentences with it before. My cursory research told me this form has the —ᆸ니다 ending. But I was sure that it should only be the 습니다 part, so where did the other ㅂ (in 춥) come from? And it turns out... it's part of the infinitive form all along.

(To be clear, I'm using the term "infinitive" rather loosely, since 춥다 is an adjective. But as I mentioned before, adjectives seem to be in "verb" form, as evidenced from their translations, e.g. 춥다 is "to be cold" and not just "cold". This is just my mental model of all this, which, as I've just shown above, can be completely wrong.)

Let's look at some examples of this rule with different conjugations:

  • 가볍다 (to be light): 가벼워요 (is light)
  • 무겁다 (to be heavy): 무거워요 (is heavy)
  • 맵다 (to be spicy): 매웠어요 (was spicy)
  • 덥다 (to be hot): 덥고 (hot and...)
  • *입다 (to wear): 입어요

For 입다 (to wear), it is 입어요 (not 이워요) in the present tense. The rule does not apply. This is because it is a verb, and, in most cases, this rule does not apply to verbs.

It's important to realise that 'ㅂ' changes to '우' when the next syllable starts with 'ㅇ' as there will be many new grammar forms to attach it too.

In the last exercise we did, the teacher gave us some grammar parts(?) that we mostly did not know and asked us to combine them based on this rule, using 덥다.

- 덥다 + 어요 = 더워요

  • 덥다 + (으)ㄴ = 더운 (으 is removed)
  • 덥다 + 어서 = 더워서
  • 덥다 + (으)면 = 더우면
  • 덥다 + (으)ㄹ 거에요 = 더울 거에요
  • 덥다 + 습니다 = 덥습니다
  • 덥다 + 지만 = 덥지만

In bold are the ones that we have learnt or are going to learn soon. The others I have no clue what they are.

In this chapter, we will learn the last two in the list. The last one we will learn next week (it's the second grammar point of this chapter) - but I did use it in my writing assignment homework for last week since it was useful. It's the construction for connecting contrasting clauses, i.e. "but". But... that is for the next post, next week.

Lesson 27 (Beginner 2A L3): Also (도), Kimchi

This post is really late because I've not finished my homework yet and for some reason I thought I should get the homework done first, since that's what I usually do after class. This week's assignment is taking longer because there is a writing component that involves creating a fake advertisement to sell some second-hand stuff. Me being me, I decide to try to make it legitimate and that means tons of research before I will get that part of it done. So, I decided that I should at least get this post out of the way because putting it off for so many days has been weighing on me.

This lesson was where we finished the last grammar point. Next week we will finish up with chapter 6 and begin with chapter 7, which is on the weather. We were sent the PDFs of the handout and the homework sheet and I printed them out. It's nice to see how colourful the handout really is. The printed copies we receive are always in black and white... I wonder if I can ask the teacher for the previous handouts in full colour... just because I think they'd also be nicer to look at.


4. N 도

This is used to express "also" or "too". It's actually very versatile, despite its apparent simplicity.

Examples (보기):

  • 수미가 커피를 마셔요. 줄리앙 커피를 마셔요. (Sumi is drinking coffee. Julian is also drinking coffee.)
  • 저는 오렌지를 샀어요. 그리고 사과 샀어요. (I bought oranges. And I bought apples too.)

This particle replaces the particles 이/가, 은/는, and 을/를 in a sentence.

As it turns out, it can attach to many things (and in some cases it will not replace the particle like for 에, which I would discuss shortly).

Depending on what it's placed after, it would change the meaning. I started to get a little confused due to the last exercise in the worksheet.

It showed a schedule with various activities. (There's more than the ones below.)

월 (Mon) 화 (Tue) 수 (Wed) 묵 (Thu) 금 (Fri) 토 (Sat) 일 (Sun)
영어 영어 영화 영화

The example was given:

  • 월요일에 영어를 배워요. 화요일에도 영어를 배워요. = On Monday I learn English. On Tuesday I also learn English.

Notice that over here, 도 is added behind 에.

I got a bit confused and thrown for the last question, which was for the movie. Each question gives an image as a prompt, so the image shows someone at the cinema watching a movie.

At this point I wondered if I should be saying he was at the cinema, but if I added 영화관에서... hmm, would the 도 go behind that as well...?

This prompted me to look do some research on my own, and my first stop is always How to Study Korean, which helped to clear up my question about that. It also covers adding 도 to many other particles that I've not yet learnt at this point.

I ended up omitting the location in my answer since I'm sure that wasn't required, but let's also think about how the sentences' meanings change.

  1. 토요일에 영화관에서 영화를 봐요. 일요일에도 영화관에서 영화를 봐요. = On Saturday, I watch a movie at the cinema. On Sunday too, I watch a movie at the cinema. (Here it's saying that I am doing something on Saturday, and on Sunday I'm doing the same thing.)
  2. 토요일에 영화관에서 영화를 봐요. 일요일에 영화관에서도 영화를 봐요. = On Saturday I watch a movie at the cinema. On Sunday I watch a movie at the cinema in addition to watching a movie someplace else. (The sentence doesn't say where it is, but it would imply nonetheless that there was another location that the speaker watched a movie at.)

Listening and Speaking

This were the listening and speaking exercises in the textbook, pages 155-156.

As you might have guessed, it was mostly for numbers (prices).

Culture Note

This was about the variants of kimchi, and how it's also added to various foods. I've added them to the vocab list.


Korean English Notes
그냥 그래요. It was okay. In response to a question about whether the food is delicious, and you don't want to say 맛있어요 or 맛없어요. This means it was so-so. You don't use 괜찮아요 as 괜찮아요 has a positive connotation.
인터넷 Internet to say you bought something online, it's 인터넷에서 샀어요.
아이스커피 ice coffee
에스프레소 espresso
일달러; 일볼 $1 1 dollar
일달러 오십센트 $1.50 1 dollar 50 cents
일 점 오 달러 $1.50 1 point 5 dollars. 점 means point/dot and also to refer to a mole (on the face) since it looks like a dot
level (student) e.g. 1급 (일급) means a year 1 student
물건 thing
인치 inch 21인치 텔레비전 = 21 inch TV
아주 very
XX 원을 주고 사다 to pay XX won for something lit. I give this amount and buy it
XX 원에 사다 to buy something for XX won notice the different particle used in this expression
팔다 to sell
unit noun for books
백김치 white kimchi Non-spicy, very crunchy. Children love it. Pregnant or breast-feeding women also prefer it.
깍두기 kkakdugi diced, cube kimchi
오이김치 cucumber kimchi
물김치 water kimchi it's very refreshing, like the soup of cold noodles (냉면)
김치김밥 kimchi gimbap (seaweed-wrapped roll)
김치볶음밥 kimchi fried rice 볶음 = stir-fry
김치전 kimchi pancake English wikipedia says it's also called 김치부침개

And if the title of this post makes no sense it's because I couldn't think of a better one. Sorry!

Lesson 26 (Beginner 2A L2): Adjectives

This lesson was also conducted over Zoom.

We had another student join today, so there is a total of 7 students (including me) in the class. 3 of them are from the same class that I used to be in, and the other 3 are not. It seems that this third new person knows the other 2.

It's a guy, so at least my friend isn't the only guy in the class any more, but I don't think it really bothered him (the way it bothered the other guy that used to be in our class until he disappeared just around Christmas...)

It's funny, the teacher asked him to introduce himself and he launched into an introduction in English. He also joined the session on I think 2 devices, because one is the camera and another was the audio. He seems like a gamer, or at least, he has a RGB keyboard. (Okay, I shouldn't be one to talk. My keyboard is mechanical and does have backlighting with some patterns but it's only white, and I turn the lights off... my Windows desktop is also a powerful gaming machine but... I am definitely not a gamer. And yes, I recently bought a good chair which so happens to be a gaming chair since I'm stuck with working from home and the dining chair was not cutting it. I digress.)

There was the quiz that we did today, it's the same, but we did it together. The first section was done individually first and then we went through the answers together, and then the second part was done together, with us taking turns to answer.

I think it's this teacher who uses videos to teach since we saw a short clip today as well about kids counting from 1-10, as part of our revision on the native numbers.

Then we practised with the textbook, which was something we (the 4 of us from the class that I was in) had already done before. I found that the conversation flowed very smoothly or rather, it was much more smooth this time. I guess there was something that got internalised. Still, there was something valuable.

The first was pronunciation, and this wasn't highlighted by the previous teacher. It's not actually a new rule. Basically, when you have 그릇하고 (as in you are ordering two things, as in 비빔밥 한 그릇하고 갈비탕 한 그릇) it is pronounced as [그르타고].

This is the same rule as for 깨끗하다 pronounced as [깨끄타다], covered when I first started on chapter 6.

The teacher also mentioned in this lesson using 한 개 or even 하나 to order food instead of 한 그릇. (This applies to other numbers as well, basically you can use the unit 개 or no units, just the native number.)

She also mentioned that flat things (pizza, and apparently for mantou as well though I don't get it because it's not really flat), you can use the unit noun 판, so 만두 한 판.

I tried to see if Wiktionary would tell me more, but the only thing I found out about it was that it's a counter for 30 eggs.


This is the third grammar point for this chapter. The first was covered in Lesson 23 and the second in Lesson 24.

3. N이/가 A-아요/어요

This is the "informal-polite present tense form used to make statements of ask questions about the state or properties of the noun".

Basically, it's the sentence form for use with adjectives (which is what the "A" represents).

Previously, we had learnt that N이/가 goes together with:

  1. 아닙니다
  2. 있어요/없어요

(This was covered in the first 10 lessons, see points 2 and 3.)

The adjectives are actually... given in verb form, if you realise, from the vocabulary of this chapter. For example, 재미있다 is "to be interesting", and 다 is basically the verb marker.

So there really isn't anything new going on here in terms of the grammar, just that it's a different class of "verbs", if you will.

(Note that I'm saying all this based on my current understanding, I'm not actually sure if this is actually the case.)

The only thing of note are two exceptions when adding 가 to two special nouns:

  1. 저 ("I"): For 저 you need to add 이 to it to make 제, so you have 제가 (not 저가.)
  2. 누구 ("who"): For 누구, the 구 is removed when you add 가, so you have 누가 (not 누구가).

Side note 1: Another example noun was 오빠 ("oppa"—most people know this word even if they don't know Korean). If you recall a while back I was learning about the right way to refer to older siblings. The teacher mentioned here that that term can be used (if you are female) to refer to any male friend older than yourself, so not necessarily a boyfriend.

Some example sentences:

  • 방이 깨끗해요. (The room is clean.)
  • 제가 한국 사람이에요. (I am Korean.)

In the second sentence above—한국 사람 really isn't an adjective, but the point of its being there was to talk about the difference between that and the one that we learnt near the beginning: 저는 한국 사람이에요. This will be covered in the next section when we relook at the particles.

The above grammar rule was given for the present tense form, but you can simply conjugate the verb into the past tense as well:

  • 어제 영화가 재미있었어요. (Yesterday, the movie was interesting.)

Side note 2: What I've come across of adjectives up to this point was mostly on Duolingo and cursory searches of the dictionary from there, so I know there are some different adjectives, but I don't know if that's exactly the same as how you have the 3 different classes of (regular) verbs that get conjugated differently. The thing about Duolingo is that the sentences are all conjugated to the formal-polite tense, so I need to unpack it back to the informal-polite tense too, or rather, find the infinitive.

Korean Particles (조사) Revision

We did a kind of revision of the particles since I guess it is pretty confusing.

1. N은/는

  1. Used to indicate the topic of a sentence, what the speaker wants to talk about.
    • 한국 사람이에요. ("I am Korean."—speaker is talking about himself)
  2. Used to refer to something mentioned earlier in a conversation.
    • 저는 냉면을 먹었어요. 냉면 맛있었어요. ("I ate cold noodles. The cold noodles were delicious."—In English, we could use a pronoun, saying "It was delicious")
    • 가: 토요일에 시간이 있어요? ("Do you have time on Saturday?") 나: 아니요, (토요일에) 수업이 있어요. ("No, I have a class [on Saturday]."—It's actually entirely possible to drop the part of the sentence in brackets, where the particle is.)
  3. Used when comparing or contrasting two things.
    • 제 방에 침대 있어요. 냉장고 없어요. ("There is a bed in my room. There is no fridge.")
    • This will be covered in more detail in the next chapter.

2. N을/를 + V

  1. 을/를 is used to indicate that the noun is the object of the verb (action). It is followed exclusively by a verb.
    • 친구를 만나요. ("I am meeting my friend.)

3. N이/가

  1. Used to designate the subject of the sentence.
    • 냉면 맛있었어요. ("Cold noodles is delicious.")
  2. Used to express a new subject in a sentence.
    • 누가 한국 사람이에요? 제 한국 사람이에요.
    • Here, the question is asking: "Who is Korean?"
    • In the reply, you cannot omit the subject because it's not been mentioned before and the right particle is 가.
    • The emphasis is on "I", the fact that I'm Korean.
    • Compare this with the question: 어느 나라 사람이에요? (What is your nationality?)
      • The answer would be: (저) 한국 사람이에요. ("I'm Korean.")
      • Here, the emphasis is on Korean, and the subject is already introduced (as it was already mentioned in the question), fitting into use case #2 of N은/는 mentioned above.
      • As standalone sentences, both 제가 한국 사람이에요 and 저는한국 사람이에요 mean the same thing: I'm Korean.
  3. Used with 아니다, 있다, and 없다
    • 저는 한국 사람 아니에요. ("I am not Korean.")
    • 남자 친구 있어요. ("I have a boyfriend.")
    • 우산 없어요. ("I don't have an umbrella.")


Korean English Notes
unit noun for flat things (?) e.g. pizza (피자), mantou/bun (만두)
여기요~! Over here! To a waiter/waitress, to call them over to your table to take your order.
저기요~! Excuse me! Getting a stranger's attention, e.g. to ask for directions
너무 too e.g. The bag is too expensive, 가방이 너무 비싸요.
정말 really e.g. The bibimbap is really delicious, 비빔밥이 정말 맛있어요.

"What are you doing now?"

The Korean teacher initiated a chat about what we are doing now since it's a public holiday (Labour Day) today.

Some new vocab:

Korean English Notes
공휴일 public holiday
저는 두 번 봤어요. I watched it twice. Context was a movie.
당연하지요 of course Context was that the teacher commented that we were all at home (모두 집에 있어요), and this was the reply, given that we are pretty much in a lockdown.
대단해요 great; amazing
하나 더 있어요. There's one more.
구텐탁 Hello; Good day/afternoon (German) Guten Tag
구텐 아벤트 Good evening (German) Guten Abend
이히리베디히 I love you. (German) Ich liebe dich.

Okay so the last 3 is a bit of a joke. I said that I'm doing my German homework: 지금 독일어 수업 숙제를 해요. 저는 뉴스 기사를 읽어요. 월요일에 수업이 있어요.

Then the teacher asked me if I was learning German, and sent 구텐탁, which basically, if you read it out, sounds exactly like "Guten Tag".

It actually exists in the Naver dictionary, and after some prodding and trial and error, I found out how to say "Guten Abend" in this weird transliterated Korean.

Then she replied and said the only German she knows is 구텐탁 and 이히리베디히. I had to check Naver to see what the second one was, because the sound is quite different.

(She would know 아르바이트 as well but that's just a word and the meaning in Korean has changed... though I'm sure she knows the original meaning too.)

So I started out doing my German homework but in the end, was mostly revising my Korean instead.

Lesson 25 (Beginner 2A L1): Learning from Home

Naturally since the country is in a state of partial lockdown, we can't go physically for class. This learning from home arrangement is good for me since, as I've said, it's an hour's journey each way for me otherwise.

I've not left the house for something like... since 5 April. I don't buy groceries, it's messed up that my parents do it since they are vulnerable, but somehow that's the arrangment in my house. And with the new restrictions, it's just my dad since he's the main driver in our house.

Of course, there's something different about learning from home. We have a new teacher as well, and so it's hard to tell, given a new teacher and a new mode of learning, whether the differences observed should be attributed to the teacher, or the mode.

The only unfortunate thing about this is that resistance was ultimately futile as a colleague of mine put it, in that I finally downloaded the Zoom client since the class is conducted via Zoom. I've downloaded it before, but held out and deleted it simply because I don't like the way the company has handled privacy in the past (once that HN post came out about how it installs a web server) - so for the sessions that I have with my colleagues (which were non-work sessions, more of socialising), I insisted on using the browser with the limited features, which included only being able to see one person at a time.

But in the end, I can now set a virtual background which masks my room, so yay? Small comfort, but better than nothing.

This lesson is basically a revision for those of us who were in the same class previously and had a month's break. There are 4 of us from my old class - Erica seems to have quit for good (which, given that she didn't appear for the last 2 lessons, seems rather expected) - and 2 new students. From what I can gather, they seem to have had a class last week, but also with a different teacher.

Regardless of how things are, it was a good revision and it made me a lot less nervous. There was a snafu in that I didn't receive the Zoom meeting link over KakaoTalk. I was getting really nervous, and it was only 10 minutes before the lesson when I decided I should message my friend to ask. Thanks to him, I got the invite link. It might be some setting that I have on KakaoTalk, that makes my account... unaddable. I'm not surprised since I tend to turn on all the privacy features I can find, but I've not figured out exactly. Anyway, the teacher gave me her id, so I can add her and I should be added to the group shortly.

I know this is more like a reflection post than on the actual lesson, but that's because we went through exactly what... had already been gone through, starting with the vocab for Chapter 6. The homework is until the same page in the workbook, and in fact, it's only 2 pages, while for the other 2 students, it sounded like they would be doing the pages from the start of the homework handout for chapter 6. Anyway, we have to scan and send a PDF to the teacher - I'll prepare that when I'm done with the post. As it is, I don't think she's added me yet as a friend or added me to the group since I don't see any notifications yet, so I can't send it to her.

Naturally, there were some new things that we learnt, or new perspectives on things that we learnt, so I shall just document them here.

We started the lesson with a self-introduction. Unfortunately, I was asked to go first out of all the students. I have no idea what I said, but I guess it was fine. The teacher started with the formal form (하십시오체) for all the sentences which threw me off, and I think I wasn't the only one, since in most cases we don't use it, but use 해요체 instead. So I went with 해요체, and some others did a mix of both.

We revised the vocabulary for Chapter 6.

When asking "what" with a noun, you have to use 무슨. So for example, "What food do you like?" is rendered as 무순 음식(을) 좋아해요?

We skipped the part on the counting for money (which is why I was a bit confused about where the 2 new students were).

After that vocab, we skipped to the first grammar point, which is on V-(으)세요 (detailed in Lesson 23). But it also seemed to be a revision, since it wasn't covered in much detail.

Interestingly, for two of the exceptions 자다 and 먹다/마시다, the teacher showed us two short clips from two Korean dramas where the characters use the V-(으)세요 form. I now recall reading some reviews that say the classes use K-dramas to teach, so maybe that's why?

To elaborate on 자다, the informal way is to say 잘 자요. But when you are being formal, then you would say (안녕이) 주무셔세요. They mean the same thing, that is, good night or sleep well.

For this drama clip, apparently it's quite famous(?) since some people in the class knew what it was. Apparently the male/female leads were a real-life couple, but they split, since the teacher expressed some regret about it. Anyway, apparently after they kiss, she says 안녕이 주무셔세요 to him. You'd think they're quite close after the kiss, but she chooses to use the formal way of saying good night, as the teacher pointed out.

As for 먹다/마시다, we learnt that it's 드세요. But you can also say 맛있게 드세요, which literally means "please eat/drink deliciously", basically a way to say "enjoy your food". You may hear this when you are in a restaurant, and when the server brings you your food, he/she may use that phrase.

In the drama clip, from the context which I saw, this lady came by to a table where a man was seated and asked him to leave, and basically, out of politeness for dragging him away, she tells the others at the table to enjoy their food with 맛있게 드세요. (There are no subs, so it's not like I know exactly what else was said.)

The second grammar point was where we spent most time, which is on the counting with unit nouns. I definitely felt more comfortable with the numbers 1-10 given an extra month to burn them into memory.

Since I learnt from the First Step Korean course about the pronounciation for, say, 다섯 명 being [다선 명], I decided to ask about this when the teacher gave an opportunity to ask questions. (I realise I did not write about this in the end.)

I got a more detailed answer. For the final consonants when it is one of the 7 coronals that have the pronunciation of [t̚] in their syllable-final position, if the next syllable begins with the nasal ㄴ or ㅁ, then the final consonant becomes ㄴ to help with pronunciation.

As an example, for 앋, 앝, 앗, 앚, 앛, 앟, if the next syllable begins with ㄴ or ㅁ, then they are pronounced as [안].

She said we will learn the pronounciation rules slowly one by one.

We did a breakout session to practise with a partner the numbers 1-10. The teacher asked us to do from Ko → En first, then En → Ko, but we launched right to En to Ko, and even then, I suggested since we were done so fast, to do the numbers from 11-19 as well.

One thing that came up was, how is 열여덟 pronounced? More generally, does the carry-over rule for pronunciation apply? We didn't ask the teacher, but I searched on Forvo and heard the prounciations, and it seems that it does carry over as I suspected, so it would be [여려덟]. Similarly, 열일곱 is pronounced as [여릴곱].

The teacher also talked about the placement of the object particle 을/를 in sentences that have the unit nouns. I believe the previous time, the teacher did mention it as well since it appeared in the textbook, and I made a note, but now I have it concretely down. (We hardly touched the textbook today, this teacher just brought it up with an example sentencee, where the object particle is omitted.)

These 3 sentences are all correct:

  • 빵 한 개 먹었어요.
  • 한 개 먹었어요.
  • 빵 한 개 먹었어요.

As part of the handout, we had the question and answer part where you create a question to ask your classmates about the number of an object (or people).

Someone asked about the number of glasses (spectacles) in the class (since it was a video call we could see each other): 지금 반에 안경이 몇개 있어요?

Another person asked about the number of computers: 컴퓨터가 몇 개 있어요?

This was interesting because the teacher said that for big electronics like computers, refrigerators, and television sets, the unit noun used is typically 대 instead of 개.

컴퓨터가 몇 대 있어요?

For smaller items like handphones, it's still typical to use 개.

The teacher said that in Korea, a common question is about how well someone can hold their liquor: 주량이 몇 병이에요?

Frequently, this is answered in terms of 소주 (soju) or 맥주 (beer).

For example, half a bottle of soju: 소주 반 병이에요.

And it seem, we will be having a quiz next week. I think the idea is the same as the one that we did the last class, since if this lesson is technically the same as that lesson, and the original quiz was scheduled after this very lesson, it makes sense that there will be a quiz next week.

I wonder how it will be carried out.

Mindshift Week 4: Adopting a Learning Lifestyle

Why Should You Keep Learning?

Some 1400 new neurons are born every day in your hippocampus. This neural birth rate doesn't decline very much with age, but unless your brain continues to encounter new experiences (e.g. by learning something new), your new neurons will die off before they can mature and hook into your exisitng larger neural network.

New neurons allow us to distinguish between similar experiences and store them as distinct memories. This means that we need to help new neurons survive and thrive for our own mental health, and for learning.

Physical exercise is one of the most powerful ways that help produce new neurons, while learning encourages their growth. You can imagine physical exercise as sowing seeds for neural sprouts, while learning is the water and fertiliser for it to grow.

When you are young, it's more likely that you will encounter something new. It becomes easier to fall into a rut with age. Learning that makes an impact on your brain has to be slightly out of your comfort zone.

You should try to do something new every day to help your new neurons survive and grow. It can be using your left hand to brush your teeth instead of the right, or sitting at a different seat.

As it turns out, learning a language when you are older is good for you, since the areas of the brain that are positively affected by language learning include areas that are negatively affected by ageing.

It seems that action videos are good for maintaining mental flexibility.

This is a case of use it or lose it (which applies to our regular muscles too...), even if you think your gifts are natural.

So there's exercise, learning something new or exposing yourself to new environments that can help your new neurons to survive and grow. It nurtures new neurons and synapses, which create a cognitive reserve. This means that when some neurons and synapses are natually gone due to ageing, you have others that can take over the neural pathways and maintian your mental health.

MOOC Tips 1 - How to Get the Most from MOOCs

MOOCs are a great way for adults to keep up a learning lifestyle.

These tips are from Ronny De Winter's insights. He's a super-MOOCer.

  1. Set learning goals. Define what you want to learn, in the short term and also in the next 2-3 years.
  2. Use a MOOC directory. (e.g. Class Central) to read reviews and view rankings, as well as discover, sort, and filter MOOCs across different platforms.
  3. Investigate. Find out more about the MOOC - the outline, prereqs, syllabus, and suggsted weekly workload to make sure it's manageable for you.
  4. Schedule the time. It's recommended to allocate twice the recommended time.
  5. Fast-MOOCing. Some like to listen to videos at 1.2x to 2x the original video speed, and some advanced MOOCers will use Fast-MOOCing to skim through the syllabus and slides, before watching the videos at twice the regular speed. Once you are comfortable, it allows you to cover all the material more efficiently. The caveat is that this may not work well for certain courses. (My own recommendation to myself is don't go there again, because I've been there before and I know how it ends: Not well. Once I start speeding it up, it seems like it's just a rush to get to the finish, and I usually end up getting impatient and end up learning less.)
  6. See how things go. Use the first week as a "trial period", and if you find the MOOC is not a good fit, drop it.
  7. Balancing: Don't take too many MOOCs at once. You get more out of studying a few subjects deeply rather than many superficially. (And also, you put a lot of stress on yourself if you try to take on more than you can. One gripe I have about Coursera is that you cannot bookmark courses, so it forces me to enrol as a form of bookmarking, and then it tells me that I'm missing deadlines. Sure, I can reset, but I don't really want to start the course now...)
  8. Use discussion forums wisely. Use it to get your questions answered, but realise that it can be time-consuming. (I'm thinking if you start mindlessly browsing the forum to read topics instead of learning...)
  9. Novelty versus bugs. Be aware that a brand-new course may have bugs that need to be ironed out. But there's always the novelty factor, and it can still be fun.

Dirty Little Secrets of Traditional vs Massive Online Teaching

The good thing about MOOC-making is that co-instructors can work together even when they are not physically located nearby.

Making good online material is something anyone can do. LHTL was made for less than $5000, yet it had the same number of students as all of Harvard's dozens of MOOCs put together, that were made for millions of dollars and with hundreds of people.

But not everybody does it. At many universities, the attention is on doing great reasearch, not teaching. It's why you end up sometimes with lecturers who can't really teach.

Professors become professors for most part because they are good at showing off what they know, but this is generally the opposite of what you need to be a good teacher - where it's important to be able to explain concepts simply.

University teaching is also about filling a timeslot. There's no motivation to be efficient, to find better ways to communicate the material memorably in fewer hours.

Online, it's very different. The online world is highly competitive. If you had the option of two classes, but one has a professor that is more engaging, wouldn't you pick that class over the other?

Although universities can provide valuable insight into what you are trying to learn (especially by lending insight from research), they're not used to this competition. This is one of the reasons for a huge range in quality of online materials, even from top-rated universities.

Well-done online learning can be better than in-class learning.

Online courses is a bit of academia, Silicon Valley and a little bit of Hollywood thrown in, which can maintain interest.

How LHTL was Made

Barb learnt about how to set up a studio and edit film by searching online. The video editing for LHTL was mostly done by her, with some help from her husband, Phil (who is also the cameraman).

It took her several months to really get comfortable with editing the videos in the video-editing software. But it was what taught her the great value that video editors brings to MOOCs.

Not all top-notch MOOC-making facilities even have a full-length green screen. The full-length green screen that is used is a simple cloth on a frame. The infinite effect was simulated by draping the cloth gently forward. The green screen is essential for allowing you to change the background.

The switching from full-length shot to half-body has a zoom effect, and this helps grabs attention, along with other kinds of motion.

She also makes use of a teleprompter. A good script means careful planning, and there is no wasted time. Writing everything also makes it better to think about what exactly should be included, from metaphors, to other funny things to convey the key message. It also includes instructions on where things should go (what should be shown on the screen) and what she needs to do. With Word's Outline View, she can also rearrange the order of the videos as she writes the script.

Great MOOCs can synthesisee the material in a whole new way that hasn't been done before in conventional class work, and which can't be easily obtained through books.

MOOC Tips 2 - Looking More Deeply Into Quality Learning

Some factors in good online learning.

  1. Friendly, upbeat instructors. Our snap judgments are pretty effective when it comes to determining whether someone is effective or not. Look for those who can simplify the material and make the hard-to-understand look easy.
  2. Metaphor and analogy. Contrary to what some traditionalists might believe, metaphors do not "dumb things down". When we understand through metaphor, we use the same neural circuitry that is used to understand the in-depth concept. Good teachers
  3. Humour. It activates your dopamine pathways, and also serves as a kind of "rest stop" when you're learning something difficult. Humour is much more important in online courses due to the competitive nature of the online world.
  4. Good Visuals. The images should relate directly to the material. An instructor should take the time to develop appropriate illustrations. Clip art should not be overused, but throwing a complex image from a textbook isn't effective either. Complex images have to appear part by part in video.
  5. Good Video Editing. This can help you to pay attention while aiding understanding of the material.

Mentors in Your Life

A mentor can be one of the most important aspects of learning.

A mentor doesn't have to be a parent-like figure that spends many hours guiding you. It might be someone you have never met in person, but said or did something that led you to think about and make valuable changes to your life.

A mentor gives you insight, and helps you see things differently. This in turn helps you to discover what's best for you in terms of where you should go.

Even negative people can be mentors; they show us what we don't want to become.

There are 2 types of mentors, according to Arnim Rodeck (an electrical engineer who made an enormous career switch to become a creative wood worker):

  1. Mentors who energise us
  2. Mentors who are more critical and won't tolerate excuses

Mentors can even be online these days, for anything from language learning (iTalki was the example here) to horse training.

The brain works best with concrete examples, so start by asking who has had the most influence on your life or inspired you to start a new life.

Then, ask yourself what your mission is. Ask yourself this continually as the answer may change. If you don't ask the question, you will never know the answer. The answer is like an internal compass.

When you ask yourself the right questions, you have won half the battle. Ask what sort of person you want to become in the next few years, and think about what are the skills you need, and the next steps that you have to take.

Persistence is a virtue; don't let setbacks hold you back.

Motivation can come from working with someone who shares the same goals. Short-term goals are good for building focus. But to achieve long-term goals, the persistence needed has to be sustained by collaborations that are like good marriages.

Evaluate your relationships. You may have to find new short-term collaborations and cultivate new longer-term ones that take you in new directions.

Don't ask someone (especially if you don't know them) to be your mentor. This can put that person in an uncomfortable situation as they don't know what you want and whether you would be a fit. The relationship should develop organically. You should also try to give something back to your mentor, so that your relationship is a two-way street.

Sometimes, the insight from your mentor may only be very tiny and occasional, but these nuggets can still be profoundly influential on your life.

Read, Read, Read

There has been a lot focus on online learning, but don't forget the value of reading good books as part of lifelong learning.

There is a competitive advantage that comes from reading. This is what Jake Taylor has realised. He won a chance to meet Warren Buffett and that meeting changed his life. He was intrigued by how one person could acculmulate so much knowledge in one lifetime, and he started to read everything he could on Buffett.

His recommendation is to read more than everyone else.

All of this compounds out into a richer and more successful life with better decision-making all along the way.

Carving out 20 minutes a day can lead to 35 books read in 1 year.

(I had no problems with finding time when I was travelling home from work, but now that I'm no longer commuting, it really has to be intentional to carve out the time to read. I'm also trying to balance it with the note-taking view that those in the Zettelkasten community have about how you should read with a pen so that you take notes. I think there has to be a balance - some books, you might want to do that, but I would only do that on a second read-through. This way it's much less stressful. Same goes for taking notes for these courses.)

A controlled study with 3000 participants found that readers of books have a survival advantage over those who only read newspapers or magazines or not at all. Survival advantage is literally survival; it's about how readers' mortality rates are 20% lower than non-readers' over the 12-year follow-up period.

You should make a habit of reading not only within your own discipline (or areas of interest). If you are interested in a particular field, and you read, well, so is everyone else who is interested in that field! Remember creative insight? If you want to see things differently, it helps to learn something that on the surface appears to be completely unrelated. The new ideas can come from the metaphors that naturally develop in your mind.

Surviving in the New Information Economy

We live in an era where there is information everywhere. It's an information explosion.

The Age of Information will have a profound impact on our society by enhancing our cognitive abilities. It is like how the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago enhanced physical power.

But the timeline for this transformation will be quicker. In the case of the Industrial Revolution, it was 100 years before the world adapted to machines.

We discussed AlphaGo last week, an AI program based on deep learning that was bio-inspired and defeated the South Korean Go champion. Due to the increase in computing power, it's now possible for learning in deep neural network models.

This has made it possible for machines to be just as good as humans in speech and object recognition. With the new deep-learning backed version of Google Translate, the translations became much more natural (Note: I like DeepL for the langauges that it offers and from the name you can already tell that it also uses deep learning.)

There is a bigger disruption underway. Machine learning is being applied to many problems where big data is available, and can be used for medical diagnosis, in the legal profession (routine work in law offices, compliance with regulations, legal support). It will not only be cheaper, but faster than visiting a professional today.

As these new technologies mature, there will be new jobs that are created. The AI systems take over jobs that require cognitive work, but there are jobs for those who create and maintain such system.

With disruption comes opportunity.

With this in mind, be prepared for a lifetime of learning.

Korean Alphabet 3 - Other Vowels

This is the last part on the Korean alphabet (at least for now). There's much more that can be said especially when looking at the history and its design, but I'll leave that for another time in the (far) future.

Since vowels is a separate topic, I split this into its own post from Part 2 which covers the consonants.

In Part 1, the 10 basic vowels were introduced. The Korean alphabet has a total of 21 vowels today, so we will look at the remaining 11.

There are two classes of vowels: monophthongs and diphthongs.

First, the monophthongs. These are "pure vowel sounds", so you can think of them as static vowels where the place of articulation is fixed (mónos means "single" in Greek).

By contrast, diphthongs are a combination of two vowel sounds, and are also known as gliding or moving vowels.

In the basic vowels, all the 4 "second-derived" vowels such as ㅠ are diphthongs (they have the additional /y/ sound in addition to the first-derived vowel sound). The other 6 are monophthongs.

Now, let's look at the complex vowels. First, the monophthongs.


  1. ㅐ- ae - as in "cat" or "apple"
  2. ㅔ - e - as in "pen" or "enemy"
  3. ㅚ - oe (we) - as in "weight" or "wait"
  4. ㅟ - wi - as in "we"

Note that the English words given are approximations. The first is from the First Step Korean course; the second is from my lesson notes. (They both used "we" for ㅟ.)

Depending on the dialect of English, the pronunciations are bound to differ. I would use IPA to describe them to be more precise.

The interesting thing about ㅐand ㅔ is that they pretty much sound the same now. In the past, ㅐ was [ɛ] - (open-mid front unrounded vowel) and ㅔwas [e] - (close-mid front unrounded vowel), but both are now pronounced as an intermediate between the two: a mid front unrounded vowel [e̞] or [ɛ̝].

ㅚ is given as /ø/ and romanised as oe as indicated. This makes it easy for me because in German, the ö, which also represents the same sound value /ø/, is also otherwise written as oe. However, in modern pronunciation, it's pronounced [we]. More on this later.


The last 7 vowels are combinations of the ones that we have seen.

  1. ㅒ - yae - (ㅣ + ㅐ)
  2. ㅖ- ye - (ㅣ + ㅔ)
  3. ㅘ - wa - (ㅗ +ㅏ)
  4. ㅙ - wae - (ㅗ +ㅐ)
  5. ㅝ - wo - (ㅜ +ㅓ)
  6. ㅞ - we - (ㅜ +ㅔ)
  7. ㅢ - ui - (ㅡ +ㅣ)

ㅒ and ㅖ also sound the same, given that ㅐ and ㅔ sound the same.

The First Step Korean course states that 왜 and 웨 are hard to distinguish. That's what I know too, but when I first learnt all these vowels, there was no separation by monophthong or diphthongs, and we were taught that apart from just 왜 and 웨 sounding similar, 외 also sounds like them.

The way to reconcile this is to realise that in today's context in how it's largely pronounced (especially, if I recall correctly, by the younger generation) as [we] basically means that it's not a monophthong anymore but a diphthong just like the other two.

In this course, they said there's no need to worry about differentiating them because there are not many words that use these letters. That's true.

The way my teacher in my class said it was, think of it as spelling differences that you simply have to memorise. After all, English has many words where the pronunciation can be the same, but the letters used to represent that sound are different (she gave the example of "apple" and "enemy" which were given as examples above).

This is why IPA is helpful when representing the sound values.

왜 and 웨 used to drive me crazy for another reason in the past when I'd just started learning the alphabet and was trying to remember how these syllables were spelt. They sounded the same, but why was one using ㅗ and the other using ㅜ?

In the end, it's become something that I've also memorised, and it no longer bothers me. I know ㅜ + ㅐ is not a valid combination, and neither is ㅗ + ㅔ. (If you try to type it on the keyboard - you can't; it will break into the next syllable automatically.)

And finally, once again touching on this part that confused me previously: ㅔ +ㅣ form ㅖ as a morpheme, but as a phoneme, the sound of ㅔ is not by i-mutation of ㅓ [ʌ]. l + ㅓ = ㅕ