Lesson 12: Korean Particles 들, only, from, 부터/까지, (으)로

Lesson 12: Korean Particles 들, only, from, 부터/까지, (으)로


The vocabulary is separated into nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for the purpose of simplicity.

Click on the English word to see information and examples of that word in use (you probably won’t be able to understand the grammar within the sentences at this point, but it is good to see as you progress through your learning).

A PDF file neatly presenting these words and extra information can be found here.

점원 = store assistant

배우 = actor

목 = neck/throat

소리 = noise/sound

목소리 = voice

의미 = meaning

상황 = situation

닭 = chicken

문장 = sentence

기름 = oil/grease/gasoline

그들 = them

생활 = lifestyle/life

속삭이다 = to whisper

복습하다 = to review, to re-study

바꾸다 = to change

유학(하다) = to study abroad

넘어지다 = to fall

독서하다 = to read

출발하다 = to depart

마시다 = to drink

내리다 = to get off, to go down, to come down

나오다 = to come out

나가다 = to go out

쓰다 = to cover one’s head

모르다 = to not know

신청하다 = to apply

사다 = to buy

팔다 = to sell

얇다 = to be thin

적당하다 = to be moderate

어리다 = to be young

기쁘다 = to be glad

Adverbs and Other Words:
꽤 = fairly/quite

때 = time, when

그때 = at that time

쪽 = side/direction

열심히 = ‘hard/well’ (study hard)

완전히 = perfectly, completely

몇 = some ____, how many (used with a counter)

층 = floor

For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.


As of now, you have learned a few different Korean particles. The particles you have learned so far are: 는/은, 이/가, 를/을, 의 and 도. There are many more particles that you will need to learn – and this lesson will cover a lot of them. In this lesson, you will learn about ~들, ~만, ~에서, ~부터, ~까지 and ~(으)로! Let’s get started!

An Important Note: Eliminating the Subject

One thing that I have yet to tell you is that Korean people often omit the topic/subject of the sentence – especially when the topic/subject is ‘I.’ Korean people love making their sentences as short as possible, and this is one additional way of doing it. In most cases, when the subject/topic can be inferred by the situation, Korean people drop it entirely from the sentence. For example, instead of saying:

저는 아침식사를 안 먹었어요 = I didn’t eat breakfast

They would say:
아침식사를 안 먹었어요 = I didn’t eat breakfast

Both are perfect sentences and both can be used, but you should be aware that Korean people often get rid of the subject/topic altogether when speaking. This will be done from time to time throughout our lessons.


Korean Particle ~들 and using 몇 with a counter

You have probably been asking yourself ‘how can I make something plural?’ Up to now, I haven’t mentioned anything about plural words in Korean. The reason for this is Korean people rarely distinguish between singular and plural. For example, if I say:

나는 사과를 샀어

This could mean “I bought an apple” OR “I bought apples.” This seems crazy to English speakers, but this is just how it is done in Korean. In most cases, the context can make it clear if you bought ‘an apple’ or if you bought ‘apples.’ If you really want to make it clear that you bought one apple, you could say:

나는 사과 한 개를 샀어 = I bought one apple

When dealing with the ambiguity of singular/plural sentences in Korean, you could also use the word 몇 which can replace a number in these examples: 두 개/두 명/두 번. When 몇 replaces a number in these cases (몇 번/몇 명/몇 개), it has the meaning of “some ____.” For example, instead of saying: “나는 사과 한 개를 샀어”, you could say:

나는 사과 몇 개를 샀어 = I bought SOME apples

More examples (remember that펜 1개 and 1개의 펜 have the same meaning):
나는 몇 개의 펜을 샀어 = I bought some pens
나는 몇 명의 사람을 만났어 = I met some people
나는 학교에 몇 번 갔어 = I went to school a few/some times (not sometimes)
(remember, 번 acts as an adverb – so it doesn’t need a particle to be attached to it).

Anyways, back to what I was trying to say earlier. ~들 can be attached to a noun to make that noun plural. However, adding ~들 to a noun that is not referring to a person is usually unnatural. Therefore, it would be unnatural to say something like this:

저는 사과들을 샀어요

Instead, ~들 is usually only attached to the word “person” (사람) or other words with the meaning of people (for example: actors, workers, doctors, etc…).

의사들은 돈이 많아 = doctors have a lot of money
선생님은 내일 학생들을 만날 거야 = The teacher will meet the students tomorrow
배우들은 그들의* 영화를 보통 좋아하지 않아 = actors usually don’t like their movies
*By adding the possessive particle 의 to 그들 (them) it becomes 그들의 (their)

Korean Particle ~만 (only)

The particle ~만 is very common and has the meaning of “only.” It can be attached directly to the end of a noun to express “only (that noun).” For example:

나는 물만 마셔 = I only drink water

It can be attached to the subject or the object of a sentence, and in each case it replaces the particle that would normally be attached there (~은/는 or ~을/을) or For example:

나만 그 여자를 좋아해 = Only I like that girl
나는 그 여자만 좋아해 = I only like that girl

나만 사과를 샀어 = Only I bought apples
나는 사과만 샀어 = I only bought apples

You could also stress that you only bought one apple (or any other number of things) by placing ~만 on a counter:

나는 사과 한 개만 샀어 = I only bought 1 apple
저는 차 두 대만 있어요 = I only have two cars
저는 친구 한 명만 만났어요 = I only met one friend

I said it once before in Lesson 3, but it is something that learners of Korean often forget: When a verb ends in 하다, the part before 하다 is usually a noun form of that verb. The examples I gave before were:

성공하다 = succeed
성공 = success

말하다 = speak
말 = speech/words

성취하다 = achieve
성취 = achievement

With these verbs, the part before 하다 can be separated from 하다 to make a noun form of that verb. Then, “하다,” meaning “do” can act on that noun (I do study = I study). It is hard to explain, but look at the following example:

나는 공부했어 = I studied
나는 공부를 했어 = I studied

Those two mean exactly the same thing, even though in the second example, 공부 is used as a stand-alone noun. But why is all of this important? It is important because now you can treat 공부 as a regular noun, which means you can attach 만 to it:

저는 공부만 했어요 = I only studied
저는 어제 일만 했어요 = Yesterday, I only worked

Note that just because a word ends in 하다, doesn’t mean you can do this. For example, many adjectives end in 하다 (for example: 행복하다: happy), but this:

저는 행복만 해요 = I am only happy – doesn’t really make a lot of sense

Also, many verbs don’t end in 하다 and just end in 다 (for example: 가다, 먹다, 보내다). The way that you can change those verbs into a form that allows ~만 to be attached will be discussed in Lesson 29.

The examples above show ~만 attached to nouns, but really it can be attached to a wide variety of things – including grammatical principles and other particles. We can’t get into these right now because you are still learning the basics of Korean.

When ~만 gets attached to more complicated things, it usually doesn’t replace something, but overlaps it. What I mean is, when ~만 is attached to the subject or object, ~을/를 or ~은/는 get eliminated. However, when ~만 is attached to something else, everything usually stays in place.

I can show you how it can be attached to ~에, but I can’t show you how this is done with other particles because you haven’t learned them yet. Some examples:

우리는 학교에만 갔어요 = We only went to school
학생들은 교실 안에만 있어요 = The students are only in their classrooms
저는 밤에만 운동해요 = I only exercise at night
저는 커피를 낮에만 마셔요 = I only drink coffee during the day
저는 그 여자를 그때만 사랑했어요 = I only loved her at that time
When using 그때, ~에 is often omitted because it can be assumed.

Korean Particle ~에서

Foreign learners of Korean are often very confused as to when they should use ~에서 instead of ~에, as they both denote places in Korean sentences. ~에서 is used to denote the location in which the subject is doing something in.

For example:

저는 학교에서 공부할 거예요 = I will study at school
저는 저의 친구를 병원에서 봤어요 = I saw my friend at the hospital
저는 남편을 공원에서 만날 거예요 = I will meet my husband at the park
저는 한국어를 한국에서 배웠어요 = I learned Korean in Korea

In order to help you understand the purpose of ~에서, I would like to make a distinction between ~에 and ~에서. As I said, ~에서 is used to indicate the location in which the subject is doing something.

This does not mean the location that he/she is going to
This does not mean the location that he/she looking at
This does not mean the location that he/she places something on
This does not mean the location that he/she places something in

All of the locations from those examples above would require the particle “~에” to denote the location.

~에서, on the other hand refers the location in which the subject – the acting agent of the sentence – is in when actually doing the action. Let’s look at the following example:

저는 건물에 간판을 봤어요

In this sentence, where is the subject (저) when doing the action (보다)? ~에서 is not used in this sentence, so it is unknown as to where the subject was when he/she saw the sign. It might be known from context, but this specific sentence is not describing it. Therefore, the person is saying that he/she saw the sign “on the building” – as if he/she was walking by and saw the sign attached to the building in some way. The action did not occur at/on/in the building, it’s just that the location in which he/she was looking at.

Conversely, look at this sentence:
저는 건물에서 간판을 봤어요

In this sentence, where is the subject (저) when doing this action (보다)? ~에서 is attached to “건물.” Therefore, the subject was in the building and saw the sign.

Another example:

저는 병을 탁자에 놓았어요

In this sentence, where is the subject (저) when doing the action (놓다)? ~에서 is not used in this sentence, so it is unknown as to where the subject was when he/she put the bottle on the table. It might be known from context, but this specific sentence is not describing it. Therefore, the person is saying that he/she put the bottle “on the table.”

Conversely, look at this sentence:
저는 병을 탁자에서 놓았어요

This sentence is nonsense. It is indicating that, the action actually occurred on/in the table. That is, the subject somehow within the table placed the bottle somewhere. But the sentence is so nonsensical that it is not even indicating where the bottle is placed. It could translate to something like “(While I was) in the table, I placed the bottle.” Don’t get too hung up on that translation because it’s hard to translate a sentence that doesn’t make sense.

However, because ~에서 can be used to indicate where the subject is acting, and because ~에 can be used to in this sentence to indicate where the bottle is placed, both ~에 and ~에서 can be used in the same sentence. For example:

저는 방에서 탁자에 병을 놓았어요 = I placed the bottle on the table in the room

This is the same reason that the particle ~에 is placed on the location in which a person is going. For example, if I said something like this:

저는 한국에서 갈 거예요
(This sentence is correct, but it is stating that the person left from Korea because the action of “going” (가다) is occurring at/in Korea). This function is talked about a little bit later.

Instead, in order to indicate the place in which you are going (and, therefore, not currently in/at), you must use ~에. For example:

저는 한국에 갈 거예요 = I will go to Korea

~에서 can also be attached to a location where an adjective “occurs.” The word “occurs” is a bad way to describe this (because adjectives don’t really “occur”, but I can’t think of a better word. Just like how a verb can be used with a subject…:

저는 잤어요 = I slept

…and a location can be used in this sentence to indicate where that action occurred:

저는 집에서 잤어요 = I slept at home

In that same sense, adjectives can be used with a subject…:

과일은 비싸요 = Fruit is expensive

… and a location can be used in this sentence to indicate where that adjective “occurs”:

과일은 한국에서 비싸요 = Fruit is expensive in Korea

Here are some other examples:

저는 학교에서 추웠어요 = I was cold at school
고등학교는 한국에서 어려워요 = High school is difficult in Korea
녹차는 한국에서 유명해요 = Green Tea is famous in Korea

I don’t want to provide a ton of examples for this because in order to make perfectly natural sentences, it requires the use of other, more complicated grammar that you haven’t been introduced to yet. For now, try to understand this specific function of ~에서 and how it can be used to indicate where a verb or adjective “occurs.”

Also note that when you indicate where something is by using 있다, you should use ~에 instead of ~에서. For example:

저는 집에 있어요 = I’m at home
저는 차 안에 있어요 = I’m in the car

The other main usage of ~에서 has the general meaning of “from.” In it’s most basic sense, it can be used to indicate the place in which the subject is departing from. This is the usage I mentioned earlier. For example:

저는 한국에서 갈 거예요 = I will go from Korea
다음 버스는 저 정류장에서 출발할 거예요 = The next bus will depart from that station

This same usage can be applied to more complicated scenarios that are similar to “departing.” For example:

When you are getting off of something (bus/train):
저는 서울역에서 내릴 거예요 = I will get off at (from) Seoul station

When something/someone is coming/going/being taken out of something:
학생은 교실에서 나왔어요 = the student came out of the classroom

You can also use this to indicate the country (or any other place, for that matter) that you come from. In English, we say “I come from Canada/I’m from Canada” but in Korean the past tense of “come” must be used:

저는 캐나다에서 왔어요 = I come from Canada

I don’t want to go on a rant here, but one of the things that bugs me is the textbooks that teach “저는 ___에서 왔어요” in the first or second lesson – before any of the grammar concepts within the sentence have been taught. For example, when I first started learning Korean, I had a textbook that taught me “저는 ____에서 왔어요” on the very first page. Without explaining why I was using 저 instead of 나, why I was using 는, what 에서 meant, what 오다 meant, how/why 오다 changes to 왔다, how/why 왔다 changes to 왔어요. But I digress…

It is also important to know that when ~에서 is added to the words 여기/거기/저기 (here, there, there), it is common to write/say:

여기서 instead of 여기에서
거기서 instead of 거기에서
저기서 instead of 저기에서

In addition to the examples provided, there are more ways in which 에서 can be used to mean “from,” but the grammar/words that would be used in those sentences are too complex for you right now. You won’t understand these examples completely, but try to understand the role of 에서 within these sentences:

저는 학교에서 멀리 살고 있어요 = I live far from school
1에서 10까지 센다 = Count from 1 to 10
그들은 많은 후보자들 중에서 저를 뽑았어요 = They chose me from many candidates
1시에서 2시까지 오세요 = Please come from 1:00 to 2:00
10에서 5를 뺀다 = Subtract 5 from 10

As you can see, ‘from’ (in English) has many usages as well. When a word has a lot of meanings in Korean – and the corresponding English word also has a lot of meanings – it is usually very difficult to understand the usage completely.

Korean Particles ~부터 and ~까지

Two more important Korean particles you need to know are ~부터 and ~까지.

~까지 can be used in sentences with or without ~에서 to have the meaning of “to/until a place/time.” For example:

3시까지 기다릴 거예요 = I will wait until 3:00
그 여자를 지금까지 좋아했어요 = I liked that girl until now
저는 그 회사에서 5월까지 일할 거예요 = I will work at that company until May
저는 그때까지 김치를 먹지 않았어요 = I hadn’t eaten Kimchi until that time
저는 오늘 이 책을 여기까지 읽었어요 = Today, I read this book until here (this point)
저는 한강까지 달렸어요 = I ran until the Han River

~부터 is a particle that is often confused with ~에서 because both can translate to “from” and have seemingly overlapping usages. You learned earlier that one usage of ~에서 is to indicate the location from which an action is departing. For example:

우리는 집에서 출발할 거예요 = We will depart from home

~부터 is very similar, but is specifically identifying the place (or time) in which something starts from. If we look at this sentence:

나는 인천에서 서울까지 갈 거야 = I will depart from Incheon and go to (until) Seoul

The particle ~에서 identifies that the person departed from 인천. In theory, this could also be seen as the starting point. Therefore, this sentence could also be written as:

나는 인천부터 서울까지 갈 거야 = I will go from Incheon to Seoul

These two sentences (despite the slight nuance of “departing” and “starting”) are essentially the same. In both cases, the subject is going from Incheon to Seoul. They can both be seen as correct, but most Koreans would rather use ~에서 when talking about the location in which something starts/departs.

For example, I showed these two sentences to a Korean person and asked him to explain the difference:

다음 버스는 저 정류장에서 출발할 거예요 = The next bus will leave from that stop
다음 버스는 저 정류장부터 출발할 거예요

He said: “The first one sounds more natural. The second one sounds as if the place the bus is leaving from is the bus garage… like the absolute starting point of the bus. In most situations, it would be most natural to say the first sentence.”

Instead, ~부터 is commonly attached to a time to indicate when something starts. For example:

저는 어제부터 아팠어요 = I have been sick since (from) yesterday
저는 내일부터 한국어를 공부할 거예요 = I’m going to study Korean from tomorrow
내년부터 우리는 서울에서 살 거예요 = From next year, we will be living in Seoul
저는 3시부터 학교에 있을 거예요 = I will be at school from 3:00
저는 작년부터 한국어를 배웠어요 = I have been learning Korean since last year

It is very common to see ~까지 used in the same sentence as ~부터. Here, ~부터 indicates the starting point and ~까지 indicates the end point. For example:

저는 아침부터 밤까지 공부만 했어요 = I only studied from morning to night
나는 캐나다에 1일부터 8일까지 있을 거야 = I will be in Canada from the 1st to the 8th

It is common to see “부터” attached to 처음 to translate to something like “from the start” or “from the beginning.” For example:

그들은 저를 처음부터 싫어했어요 = They didn’t like me from the start
우리는 그 일을 처음부터 시작할 거예요 = We will start that job/task from the beginning

When used to say “from start to finish,” the word “끝” is often used to mean “finish.” For example:

저는 그 상황을 처음부터 끝까지 몰랐어요 = I didn’t know that situation from start to finish
저는 그것을 처음부터 끝까지 복습했어요 = I reviewed that from start to finish
저는 그 책을 처음부터 끝까지 읽었어요 = I read that book from start to finish

Korean Particle ~(으)로

The Korean particle ~(으)로 can be added to nouns with a few different meanings. One of the main meanings is to indicate with what tool/device/method/material something is carried out. The English equivalent varies depending on the usage:

Write with a pen
Go to the store by car
Go to school on foot
Make a house out of wood

This meaning of ~(으)로 can be used in so many situations it would be impossible to list them all. As you get comfortable with the basic examples of this usage, you will slowly be able to grasp when it should be used in all situations.

~로 is added to words ending in a vowel, whereas ~으로 is added to words ending in a consonant. ~로 is also added to words ending in ㄹ. The only reason for this difference is for ease of pronunciation. If you say “것로” there is a split second where your tongue cannot go directly from 것 to ~로 – so it is changed to 것으로.

나는 우리 집을 나무로 지었어 = I built our house out of wood
배로 제주에 갈 거야 = I will go to Je-ju by boat
저는 그것을 손으로 만들었어요 = I built that with my hands

In this same respect, ~(으)로 can be used to indicate the language in which something is spoken in. Here, just like in some of the examples above, the language acts as the “tool” in which something was communicated. For example:

저는 그 문장을 한국어로 말했어요 = I said that sentence (using) in Korean
저는 그것을 영어로 할 거예요 = I will say that (using) in English

It is also used to indicate what you ate for a specific meal:

저는 아침식사로 밥을 먹었어요 = I ate rice for breakfast
저는 보통 점심식사로 과일만 먹어요 = I usually only eat fruit for lunch

If somebody does an action in line with a bunch of other people, you can use ~(으)로 to indicate the order something is done by attaching it to a number + 번째. For example:

저는 그것을 두 번째로 했어요 = I did that second (I was the second person to do that)
저는 학교에 두 번째로 왔어요 = I came to school second (I was the second person to come to school)
저는 그것을 첫 번째로 할 거예요 = I will go (do it) first

The other main meaning of ~(으)로 is to indicate the direction that something is happening in. This sometimes has the same meaning as “에.”For example:

저는 집으로 갈 거예요 = I will go in the direction of home (simply ‘I will go home’), which would be the same as:
저는 집에 갈 거예요 = I will go home

~(으)로 is often added after ~쪽 to make “~쪽으로”. ~쪽 can be added after some nouns and some direction words (above/below/East/West/etc) to mean “the direction of ___.”

그쪽 = that way/direction
위쪽 = upper direction
사람 쪽 = the direction of the people, etc..

To make sentences like:

저의 친구는 저 쪽으로 갔어요 = My friend went that way
학생들은 교실 쪽으로 걸어요 = Students walk towards/in the direction of their class

Notice the difference between these two:

저는 집 안 쪽으로 달렸어요 = I ran inside the house
저는 집 안에서 달렸어요 = I ran inside the house

In the first example, you are running into the house/in the direction of ‘inside the house.’ In the second example, you are running inside the house.

That’s it for this lesson! I wanted to cover a few more particles, but this lesson already has way too much in it! In the next lesson, I will introduce you to more of these common particles. Until then, make sure you review this lesson before you move on!

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