Hi, in the last lesson, we talked about the ten basic Korean vowels, “ㅏㅑㅓㅕㅗㅛㅜㅠㅡㅣ.” They are made with the shapes of sky, land, human, or some combination of them. We also learned the proper way to read and write them.
Today, we will study the fourteen basic Korean consonants. First, we will learn the consonants’ construction, and then, we will learn how to read and write those basic consonants. In addition to them, we will also learn about the Romanization of Korean consonants.
I will start by speaking the fourteen basic consonants. “ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅅ ㅇ ㅈ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ.” You don’t have to worry about how to read individual consonants yet. Focus on what sound each consonant has and how to write them. Among these 14 basic consonants, “ㄱ ㄴ ㅁ ㅅ ㅇ” are important in making other consonants.
Let’s see how Korean consonants are made. Five basic consonants were created by inspiration from the shape of the oral cavity. “ㄱ ㄴ ㅁ ㅅ ㅇ” are the five letters. In more detail, “ㄱ” is the shape of the tongue blocking the back of the throat. “ㄴ” is the tongue touching the roof of the mouth. “ㅁ” is shape of lips. “ㅅ” is shape of a tooth. Finally, “ㅇ” is the shape of the throat.
Next, based on those five consonants, add additional lines to make the rest of the basic consonants, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ, except for the letter “ㄹ”. In more detail, here are the rest of the 14 basic consonants.
- Adding a line to “ㄱ” makes “ㅋ.”
- Adding lines to “ㄴ” makes ” ㄷ” and “ㅌ.”
- Adding lines to “ㅁ” makes “ㅂ” and “ㅍ.”
- Adding lines to “ㅅ” makes “ㅈ” and “ㅊ.”
- Adding lines to “ㅇ” makes “ㅎ.”
“ㄹ” represents the vibration of the tongue when making a trilled “r” sound as found in Spanish and other languages.
Now, let’s learn how to read them.Each Korean consonants has a name such as “ㄱ (GiYeok)”, “ㄴ (NiEun)”, and “ㄷ (DiGeut)”, but for simplicity we will not learn the names now; it is better to just focus on each sound.
I will show you each of the Korean consonants with an example of an English word that shares a similar sound.
- ㄱ has the “g” sound, as in the word “game”.
- ㄴ has the “n” sound, as in the word “notebook”.
- ㄷ has the “d” sound, as in the word “dounut”.
- ㄹ has the “r or l” sound, as in the word “lemon”.
- ㅁ has the “m” sound, as in the word “moon”.
- ㅂ has the “b” sound, as in the word “ball”.
- ㅅ has the “s” sound, as in the word “sky”.
- ㅇ has a silent sound as in the word “hour” and the “ng” sound, as in the word “king”.
- ㅈ has the “j” sound, as in the word “jam”.
- ㅊ has the “ch” sound, as in the word “cheese”.
- ㅋ has the “k” sound, as in the word “kite”.
- ㅌ has the “t” sound, as in the word “tiger”.
- ㅍ has the “p” sound, as in the word “paint”.
- ㅎ has the “h” sound, as in the word “house”.
Now, you have a better idea about what each consonants sounds like. So then, how should the 14 basic consonants be romanized? The Romanization of Korean consonants uses the same English letters that we just went through for the sounds. However, unlike Korean vowels, some Korean consonants have a different Romanization or pronunciation, depending on their position in a syllable. The proper letters to use when Romanizing Korean is determined by whether the consonant appears at the beginning or end of the syllable.
As I briefly mentioned in my hangul introduction lesson, to make the word “Banana” in English and Korean, you need both consonants and a vowel. To make things easier for this lesson, I will use only the vowel “ㅏ (a)”. Here is a sample with the consonant “ㄱ”. ㄱ has 2 Romanized letters, g and k and it makes 각 (ㄱ+ㅏ+ㄱ), gak (g+a+k). As you can see, if a consonant has two Romanized letters, I will divde them with a slash. The first letter in red is when the consonant appears at the beginning of a syllable and the last letter in blue is when the consonant appears at the end of a syllable. When a consonant has the same romanized letter for both the beginning and end, I will use this green color.
In the same way, let’s see the rest of the consonants.
- ㄴ has 1 Romanized letter, n and it makes 난 (ㄴ+ㅏ+ㄴ), nan (n+a+n).
- ㄷ has 2 Romanized letter, d and t, and it makes, 닫 (ㄷ+ㅏ+ㄷ), dat (d+a+t).
- ㄹ has 2 Romanized letters, r and l, and it makes, 랄 (ㄹ+ㅏ+ㄹ), ral (r+a+l).
- ㅁ has 1 Romanized letter, m and it makes, 맘 (ㅁ+ㅏ+ㅁ), mam (m+a+m).
- ㅂ has 2 Romanized letters, b and p and it makes, 밥(ㅂ+ㅏ+ㅂ), bap (b+a+p).
- ㅅ has 2 Romanized letters, s and t and it makes 삿 (ㅅ+ㅏ+ㅅ), sat (s+a+t).
- ㅇ has 2 Romanized letters, silent and ng and and it makes 앙 (ㅇ+ㅏ+ㅇ), ang (silent+a+ng).
- ㅈ has 2 Romanized letters, j and t and it makes 잦 (ㅈ+ㅏ+ㅈ), jat (j+a+t).
- ㅊ has 2 Romanized letters, ch and t and it makes 찾 (ㅊ+ㅏ+ㅊ), chat (ch+a+t).
- ㅋ has 1 Romanized letter, k and it makes 캌 (ㅋ+ㅏ+ㅋ), kak (k+a+k).
- ㅌ has 1 Romanized letter, t and it makes 탙 (ㅌ+ㅏ+ㄹㅌ), tat (t+a+t).
- ㅍ has 1 Romanized letter, p and it makes 팦 (ㅍ+ㅏ+ㅍ), pat (p+a+p).
- ㅎ has 1 Romanized letter, h and it makes 핳 (ㅎ+ㅏ +ㅎ), hat (h+a+h).
A silent sound like the letter “H” in the English word “Hour” means the letter doesn’t makes any sound. In Korean, when the consonant “ㅇ” appears at the beginning of a syllable, it becomes a silent sound. As a result, you can just skip the “o” sound and read the vowel you see next to the “o”. For-example, 아 is ㅇ + ㅏ, so it sounds the same as the Korean vowel ㅏ. In the same way, 우 = consonant ㅇ + vowel ㅜ , and it sounds the same as the korean vowel ㅜ.
By the way, did you notice this little * symbol at the top of some example words, such as 찿, 캌, 탙, 팦, and 핳? Those words don’t actually exist in the Korean language. I just made them up to explain how each consonant makes different sounds and to help with the romanization according to their position in a syllable.
Does this seem complex or difficult? I can understand that. So, for this lesson, I want you to focus mainly on the pronunciation that each consonant has at the beginning of a syllable. We will cover the ending pronunciations in more detail in a later lesson. I will go over each consonant’s first position pronunciation one more time. ㄱ=g, ㄴ=n, ㄷ=d, ㄹ=r, ㅁ=m, ㅂ=b, ㅅ=s, ㅇ=silent, ㅈ=j, ㅊ=ch, ㅋ=k, ㅌ=t, ㅍ=p, ㅎ=h
Let’s learn how to write them. Like vowels, you have the same rules for writing consonants. Basically, write top to bottom and left to right. For circles, go counter clockwise. I will show you how to write down each of the 14 consonants one by one.
So today, we studied the fourteen basic consonants. The first five consonants, “ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㅅ ㅇ” are based on the shape of the oral cavity. Adding lines to them makes the rest of the basic consonants. “ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅅ ㅇ ㅈ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ” have sounds that are similar with some consonants used in the English language. Finally, when you write them, go top to bottom and left to right. For circles, go counter clockwise.
Next time, we will study rest of Hangul vowels and consonants that we didn’t study yet. For homework, please practice the fourteen basic consonants you learned today by reading and writing each one.
I would appreciate it if you leave comments with the 14 basic consonants in Korean, or Romanized letters.
If you want to practice what you learned today, or want to test what you already know about Korean vowels, you can take a quiz about these vowels on my blog I will add the link in the description box below this video.
If you liked this 14 basic consonant lesson, please give me a thumb up and subscribe to my channel.
Thanks for studying Korean with me. See you next time. Bye.
Keep taking this quiz until you can easily get a perfect score by just reading, and then keep taking it until you get a perfect score by just listening. 😉
You need a different web browser to take this quiz.