See also:

Korean edit

Pronunciation edit

Revised Romanization?eun
Revised Romanization (translit.)?eun
Yale Romanization?un

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle Korean 은〮/ᄋᆞᆫ〮 (Yale: -ún/-ón), from Old Korean (*-(u)n). Attested since the very beginning of Korean writing in the first millennium. The post-vocalic form (-neun) is probably formed by pre-Middle Korean reduplication, with the original form (-n) now relegated to colloquial speech.

Alternative forms edit

  • (-neun)after vowels
  • (-n)after vowels, colloquial

Particle edit


  1. The Korean topic marker, with various nuances according to context:
    1. Used to mark an already known topic, to which the subsequent statement applies.
      오늘 너무 춥다.Oneur-eun neomu chupda.Today [TOP] is too cold.
      잊어버리자.Geu ir-eun ijeo-beorija.Let's forget about that business [TOP].
      서울 사람 너무 많다.Seour-e-neun saram-i neomu manta.In Seoul [TOP], there are too many people.
    2. Used to mark the topic in statements of general fact.
      한국 작은 나라 아닙니다.Han'gug-eun jageun nara-ga animnida.Korea [TOP] is not a small country.
      매일 아침 동쪽에서 뜬다.Hae-neun maeil achim dongjjog-eseo tteunda.The sun [TOP] rises every morning in the east.
    3. what about; Used without a predicate to demand new information about an already known topic.
      이건 엄마 . ― 아빠 ?Igeon eomma kkeo-ya. ― Appa kkeo-neun?This is for Mom. ― And for Dad [TOP]?
      우리 여기 있어. ― 너희 누나?Uri hyeong yeogi isseo. ― Neohui nuna-neun?My brother is here. ― And your sister [TOP]?
    4. Used in contrastive constructions, often with an exclusive sense (i.e. this and not anything else).
      예쁘네.Nun-eun yeppeune.Her eyes [TOP] are pretty [implied: but she is otherwise not pretty.]
      친구 많은데 절친 없다.Chin'gu-neun maneunde jeolchin-eun eopda.She has lots of friends [TOP] but no best friend [TOP].
    5. Used with an emphatic sense.
      없이 산다.Neo eopsi-neun mot sanda.I can't live without [TOP] you.
    6. Used to background previously known information, in order to highlight the importance of the statement which follows; the marked topic is omittable.
      딱히 하고 싶은 없어.na-n ttakhi hago sipeun mal eopsseo.I [TOP] don't have anything in particular I want to say.
Usage notes edit
  • (-eun) can appear after bare nouns and pronouns, adverbs, certain verbal connective suffixes (e.g. (-myeon, if), 어서 (-eoseo, and then)), and most case-marking particles. It is not compatible with nominative case markers (-ga) and (-i), or with accusative case marker (-eul); if a noun in the nominative or accusative is topic-marked, the case-marking particle cannot appear.
  • The distinction between topic-marking (-eun) and subject-marking (-ga) and (-i) is often difficult for non-fluent speakers. Essentially, (-eun) is explicitly topicalizing, i.e. marking previously known information as the topic to which the new information in the subsequent statement applies, while (-ga) and (-i) (by virtue of not being explicitly topicalizing) has a focalizing connotation, i.e. marking the preceding word as new information introduced into the discourse. Compare the context of the following:
    지금 어디야? — 벌써 왔는데?
    neo jigeum eodiya? — na-n beolsseo wanneunde?
    Where are you? — But I[TOP]'ve already come.
    The newly introduced focus is the fact of having come.
    누가 왔어? — 왔지.
    Nu-ga wasseo? - Nae-ga watji.
    Who came? — I [NON-TOP] did, of course.
    The newly introduced focus is the person who has come.
  • Accordingly, (-eun) can only be used for a topic that is already shared knowledge to both discourse participants. In the first example below, topic-marked 오빠 (oppa-neun) is ungrammatical because the identity of the person is not shared knowledge prior to the conversation. But once the presence of the older brother is shared knowledge, topic-marking can be used:
    누구? — 우리 오빠 있대.
    Nuguya? - Uri oppa-ga hal mal itdae.
    Who is it? — My older brother says he has something to say.
    너희 오빠 한밤중 전화하냐?
    Neohui oppa-neun wae tto hanbamjung-e jeonhwahanya?
    Why is your older brother calling in the middle of the night again?
Similarly, the use of (eun) in statements of general fact can be explained by the fact that the existence of e.g. Korea or the sun is already common knowledge to all discourse participants.
  • When a topic-marked word or phrase is at the beginning of the sentence, it is most commonly intended as either the topic or the background information of the rest of the sentence. When it appears within a sentence, it is almost always contrastive or emphatic.
See also edit
  • (-i), (-ga) (nominative case markers)
  • (wa) (Japanese equivalent)

Etymology 2 edit

From Middle Korean 은/ᄋᆞᆫ (Yale: -un/on), from Old Korean (*-(u)n).

In Old Korean, a (perhaps the) primary function of this suffix was to form verbal gerunds that could function as nouns, much as English -ing-forms serve as both independent nouns and to attribute nouns adjectivally; this nominalizing usage was only vestigial in Middle Korean and is wholly defunct today.

Alternative forms edit

  • (-n)after vowels or (l)

Suffix edit


  1. that, which; past adnominal suffix for verbal stems, often carries a perfect meaning.
    Synonym: (nonstandard, slightly different nuance) 었는 (-eonneun)
    Coordinate terms: (-deon, imperfective), (-neun, present), (-eul, future)
    어제 빌린 사전ne-ga eoje billin sajeonthe dictionary which you borrowed yesterday
    어제 eoje meog-eun ppangthe bread which I ate yesterday
    퍼런 정장 남자peoreon jeongjang-eul ibeun namjathe man wearing (that put on) a deep blue suit
  2. Realis adnominal suffix for adjectival stems.
    Synonym: (nonstandard, slightly different nuance) 었는 (-eonneun)
    Coordinate terms: (-deon, imperfective), (-eul, irrealis)
    차가 chagaun sonhands which are cold; cold hands
    아름다 여인areumdaun yeoinbeautiful lady; lady who is beautiful
Related terms edit