Korean Alphabet

Korean Alphabet - Hangul

This page contains a table including the following: Korean alphabet in Hangul letters which help you pronounce the words in a given language, you will also learn about the different consonants and vowels, Make sure to check our Learn Korean page, which contains several lessons that might help you in your learning process.

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The Korean alphabet is very easy to learn, in fact it might only take you 35 min to learn. When learning Korean, the first thing to do is probably learning how to read it. It’s really a very simple and quite scientific way of writing and can be learned in no time. If you don’t learn the writing, then you’ll have a really hard time pronouncing things correctly. Here is a guide to reading Korean:

The Korean writing system, Hangul, is an alphabetic syllabary. In other words, there is a character for each sound, but they are put together in syllabic units. Each syllabic unit also forms a character in itself. So if I were to write a name (Dan) in English, but in Korean style, I would write it like this: .

There are four possible spots for letters in Korean. In the following diagram, C means consonant, and V means vowel.  There must always be something in the first C position and the V position, but the C positions on the bottom are optional.

The consonants of the Korean alphabet are as follows:

Alphabet English Equivalent Extra Points Examples
An unaspirated ‘k’ at the beginning of a word, and a ‘g’ most of the time in the middle of words.By unaspirated, I mean that it’s not pronounced very hard, like the English ‘k’.가! – ka – "Go!"
‘n’Made by almost biting on the tongue at the ends of words, and by placing the tongue behind the top teeth otherwise.나 – na – "I"
Like, ㄱ, this consonant is like the unaspirated ‘t’ in English. It is a ‘d’ in the middle of words.다 – ta – "all"
A mixture between the English ‘r’ and ‘l’. When between vowels, it is like a single rolled Spanish ‘r’ or like the ‘tt’ in ‘butter’ in some American dialects. If there are two of them together, it becomes a solid ‘l’.가라! – ka-ra – "Go!"
달리 – tal-li – "differently"
‘m’마음 – ma-ŭm – "heart"
An unaspirated ‘p’ at the beginning of words, and a ‘b’ in the middle of words.반 – pan – "half"
‘s’When coming before the "ee" sound, it becomes an ‘sh’.산 – san – "mountain"
시 – shi – "poem"
In the bottom of syllables, this character is like the English ‘ng’ without the ‘g’ sound. At the beginning of syllables, this character is just a place marker and has no sound.잉어 – ing-ŏ – "carp"
영어 – yŏng-ŏ – "English"
Unaspirated ‘ch’ at the beginning of words, ‘j’ inside words.자 – cha – ruler
자자 – cha-ja – "Let’s sleep"
Strongly aspirated ‘ch’.차 – ch’a – "car"
Strongly aspirated ‘k’.카페 – k’a-pe – "Café"
Strongly aspirated ‘t’.탄내 – t’an-nae – "burnt smell"
Strongly aspirated ‘p’.패 – p’ae – "medal"
‘h’Almost silent after ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅇ, between vowels. When it comes before or followsㄱ, ㄷ,ㅂ, or ㅈ, it makes the consonants aspirated: ㅋ, ㅌ,ㅍ, ㅊ respectively.해 – hae – "sun"

There are also a few double consonants that are "forticized."  These consonants must be pronounced with more force than their regular counterparts, but without aspiration (this is somewhat difficult, at least for native English speakers).  Here are the possible double consonants:

Alphabet English Equivalent Extra Points Examples
Forticized ‘k.’Written ‘kk.’까치 – kka-ch'i – "magpie"
Forticized ‘t.’Written ‘tt.’딸 – ttal – "daughter"
Forticized ‘p.’Written ‘pp.’빨리 – ppal-li – "quickly"
Forticized ‘s.’Written ‘ss.’쌀 – ssal – "uncooked rice"
Forticized ‘ch.’Written ‘tch.’짝 – tchak – "companion"

There are 21 possible combinations of vowels and are as follows (shown here with the place marker to make them into real syllables):

Alphabet English Equivalent Extra Points Examples
Like the ‘a’ in father.아가 – a-ga – "baby"
Like the British ‘augh’ in caught.This best explained as a rounded low back vowel. It is sometimes pronounced like the ‘u’ in sun.더 – tŏ – "more"
Like the ‘ee’ in tee.피 – p’i – "blood"
Like the ‘o’ in ‘oh’ but more rounded.오 – o – "five"
Like the ‘oo’ in boot, but more rounded.구 – ku – "nine"
Like the ‘u’ in put. We sometimes called this the "gutslash" because it seems to come from the gut.그 – kŭ – "that"
Like the ‘ay’ in hay.배 – pae – "boat"
Like the ‘ay’ in hay.This and the one before it are almost indistinguishable – even Koreans can’t tell the difference most of the time.제 – che – "my"
A combination of 오 and 아, this sounds like the ‘wa’ in wand.봐! – pwa – "look!"
This is a combination of 우 and어, and sounds like the first part of0 "whoa."뭐? – mwŏ – "what?"
Like the English "we."위 – wi – above
Like English "way."궤도 – kwe-do – "orbit"
Like English "way."왜? – wae – "why?"
Like English "way."죄 – choe – "sin"
A combination of 으 and 이, this is pronounced like the ‘u’ in put followed by the ‘ee’ in tee.This syllable is also used as the possessive marker like the "’s" in English. When such is the case, it is pronounced the same as 에.의 – ŭi – "righteousness"
Like the ‘ya’ sound in ‘yacht.’야! – ya – "hey"
Somewhat similar to the ‘you’ in ‘young.’엿 – yŏt – "taffy"
Like the ‘yo’ in ‘yo wassup.’요 – yo – "bedspread"
Like the English ‘you.’우유 – u-yu – "milk"
Like the English ‘yea.’얘기 – yae-gi – "story"
Like the ‘ye’ in ‘yet.’예 – ye – "yes"

I hope the content of this page was useful to you, and that you learned some Korean alphabet the Hangul, consonants and vowels. Try to memorize them to be able to use them in your daily conversation. Make sure to check our Learn Korean page, which contains several lessons that might help you in your learning process.