See also: and -이-



Cognate with Korean (-e).




  1. at
  2. to



Etymology 1Edit

From Middle Korean 이〮 (, subject marker), from Old Korean 是, 利 (*-i, subject marker). Old Korean sources also use (*-yek?) and 弋只 (*-ik) as a subject marker. It is possible that these are the more conservative forms, and that there was a shift from (*-yek?) > 弋只 (*-ik) > (*-i).[1] However, others have considered 弋只 (*-ik)) to be a suffixed form of -i.[2] The forms with *-k are attested later than simple *-i.

John Whitman and Yuko Yanagida speculate an ultimate connection either to the demonstrative ("this") or to the bound noun ("person").[3]

Old Japanese (i, emphatic nominative particle) is believed to be a borrowing from Korean into Japanese.[3]


Revised Romanization?-i
Revised Romanization (translit.)?i
Yale Romanization?i



  1. For non-honorific nouns ending in consonants, the nominative case particle marking it as the subject of a verb or adjective; see also Usage Notes.
    Synonyms: (-ga, for non-honorific nouns ending in vowels), 께서 (-kkeseo, for honorific nouns)
    치킨 맛있다.
    I chikin-i masitda.
    This chicken is delicious.
  2. For nouns ending in consonants, a particle marking it as the grammatical complement of the verbal stems 되다 (doeda, “to become”) and 아니다 (anida, “to not be”).
    Synonyms: (-ga, for nouns ending in vowels), 으로 (-euro, for the verb 되다 (doeda))
    얼음 되었다.
    Mur-i eoreum-i doeeotda.
    The water became ice.
    정상 아니다.
    Gyae-neun jeongsang-i anida.
    He is not normal.
  3. For nouns ending in consonants, an emphatic particle used to mark the object of desire in a construction with the auxiliary verb 싶다 (sipda, to want).
    Synonym: (-ga, for nouns ending in vowels)
    짜장면 먹고 싶다는데?
    Jaen jjajangmyeon-i meokgo sipda-neunde?
    She says she wants to eat jajangmyeon.
Usage notesEdit

Korean commonly uses so-called "double subject" constructions, in which a subject-verb or subject-adjective combination is used as the predicate of another subject so that the subject marker appears twice in a single sentence. See the examples below:

son-i apeuda
The hand hurts.
우리 아들 아프다
uri adeuri son-i apeuda
My son's hand hurts.
(literally, “My son is hand-hurting.”)

As with all Korean particles, is often omitted.

교실 이렇게 ?
Gyosir-i wae ireoke keo?
Why is the classroom so big?
교실 이렇게 ? (particle omitted)
Gyosil wae ireoke keo?
Why is the classroom so big?

However, it cannot be omitted when the subject is a new topic being introduced into the conversation, or when the subject is being specified to the exclusion of others. The particle is thus obligatory in the sentence below, where (jip, home) is to the exclusion of other things.

제일 좋다.
Jib-i jeil jota.
Home is best.

Historically, was the only subject-marking particle in the Korean language, and was used for nouns ending in vowels as well. This is true for most Early Modern Korean texts up to the late nineteenth century. In the peripheral Yukjin dialect spoken in far northeastern Korea and neighboring parts of China, remains the only nominative particle used. It is the only contemporary dialect to preserve such an archaism.

See alsoEdit
  • 은/는 (-eun/neun, topic marker)
  • 을/를 (-eul/reul, direct object marker)

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle Korean (i), of variable pitch depending on the stem being attached to. Lee Ki-Moon and S. Roberts Ramsey notes that it is "probably from the same etymological source" as the bound noun for "person".[4]


Revised Romanization?-i
Revised Romanization (translit.)?i
Yale Romanization?i



  1. A noun-deriving suffix for certain consonant-final verb and adjective stems, used to nominalize both individual verbs and entire phrases.
    (meok-, to eat) + ‎ (-i) → ‎먹이 (meogi, feed for animals)
    (beol-, to make money) + ‎ (-i) → ‎벌이 (beori, earnings)
    감옥 (gamok, prison) + ‎ (sal-, to live) + ‎ (-i) → ‎감옥살이 (gamoksari, prison life)
  2. -er, -or; an agent noun-deriving suffix attached to certain consonant-final words, stems, and phrases.
    더듬 (deodeum-, to grope, to stutter) + ‎ (-i) → ‎더듬이 (deodeumi, antennae, stutterer)
    멍멍 (meongmeong, woof-woof) + ‎ (-i) → ‎멍멍이 (meongmeong'i, doggy) (childish)
    절름발 (jeolleumbal, crippled leg) + ‎ (-i) → ‎절름발이 (jeolleumbari, cripple)
    (ot, clothes) + ‎ (geol-, to hang) + ‎ (-i) → ‎옷걸이 (otgeori, hanger)
  3. A suffix attached to numerals, with the sense of "a group of people of that number".
    밖에 왔어.Dur-i bakke an wasseo.Just two people came.
  4. (endearing) A suffix attached to consonant-final personal names; compare English -y as in Johnny. See also Usage Notes.
  5. A suffix attached to consonant-final words for animals. In many cases, the original, non-suffixed form is not used.
    거북 (geobuk, turtle) + ‎ (-i) → ‎거북이 (geobugi, turtle)
    호랑 (horang, tiger) + ‎ (-i) → ‎호랑이 (horang'i, tiger)
  6. A suffix attached to any noun to euphonically lengthen the word without changing its meaning. Now more productive in non-Seoul dialects.
    입술 (ipsul, lip) + ‎ (-i) → ‎입술이 (ipsuri, lip) (Gyeongsang dialect, Jinju)
Usage notesEdit

The suffix is retained before most particles, but lost before the vocative particle (-a):

서민 > 서민!
Seomin-i > seomin-a!
[Dear] Seomin > Hey, Seomin!
멍멍 > 멍멍!
Meongmeong-i > meongmeong-a!
doggy > Hey, doggy!

For nouns historically formed by the suffix but where the original form has fallen out of widespread use, vocative behavior varies. In general, words where the suffixed form was already dominant in Middle Korean retain the suffix because they are no longer perceived as being multimorphemic, but words where the non-suffixed form was common into Early Modern Korean drop the suffix.

기러 > 기럭! (suffix lost in vocative)
Gireogi > gireog-a!
wild goose > Hey, wild goose!
> 파리 (suffix retained in vocative)
pari > pari--ya
fly (insect) > Hey, fly!

When used with personal names, the suffix connotes that the person is on intimate or familiar terms with the speaker, that they are social equals or inferiors of the speaker, and that the context is not formal. In Korean, referring to a person simply by their given name without a surname or title already implies intimacy, lack of social superiority, and informality. The suffix (-i) is thus usually added when using a consonant-final given name in isolation:

박서민이 그랬어. (the speaker and Seomin are not on intimate terms)
Bak Seomini geuraesseo.
Park Seomin said that.
서민가 그랬어. (the speaker and Seomin are on intimate terms)
Seomin-i-ga geuraesseo.
[Dear] Seomin said that.

The suffix can also be used together with a surname, in which case the association with intimacy or familiarity is weaker and there can be a connotation that the speaker is looking down on the person being referred to.

Derived termsEdit

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle Korean (i, adverb-deriving suffix), from Old Korean 是, 利 (*i, adverb-deriving suffix).


Revised Romanization?-i
Revised Romanization (translit.)?i
Yale Romanization?i



  1. -ly; an adverb-deriving suffix, attaching especially to adjectives and certain reduplicated monosyllabic nouns. No longer productive in Seoul Korean.
    (gil-, to be long) + ‎ (-i) → ‎길이 (giri, for evermore)
    달ㄹ (dall-, to be different) + ‎ (-i) → ‎달리 (dalli, unlike)
    슬프 (seulpeu-, to be sad) + ‎ (-i) → ‎슬피 (seulpi, sadly, forlornly)
    간(間) (gan, interval) + ‎간(間) (gan, interval) + ‎ (-i) → ‎간간이 (gan'gani, from time to time)
    무진장(無盡藏) (mujinjang, limitlessness) + ‎ (-i) → ‎무진찬이 (mujinchani, profusely) (Gyeongsang dialect, Namhae)
    Synonym: (ge, productive adverb-deriving suffix)
  2. A suffix attached to an existing adverb not derived from a verb, generally with a more emphatic sense. No longer productive in Seoul Korean.
    일찍 (iljjik, early) + ‎ (-i) → ‎일찍이 (iljjigi, quite early)
    더욱 (deouk, yet more) + ‎ (-i) → ‎더욱이 (deougi, yet quite more)
Usage notesEdit

(-ge) is the normal adverb-deriving suffix. The (-i) forms tend to have a marked or lexicalized meaning.

In Seoul Korean, most adverbs derived by this suffix from adjectives formed with the light verb 하다 (hada) contract to (-hi), rather than *하이:

솔직하 (soljikha-, to be honest) + ‎ (-i) → ‎솔직히 (soljikhi, honestly)
깔끔하 (kkalkkeumha-, to be neat) + ‎ (-i) → ‎깔끔히 (kkalkkeumhi, neatly)

However, some 하다 adjectives lose the consonant (-h) entirely, taking (-i) instead. In the prescriptive standard of Seoul Korean, there are two main exceptions:

  • If the non-하다 element ends in (-s), is always used.
    깨끗하 (kkaekkeutha-, to be clean) + ‎ (-i) → ‎깨끗이 (kkaekkeusi, cleanly)
  • If the non-하다 element ends in (-k), is often used.
    굵직하 (gukjikha-, to be stout) + ‎ (-i) → ‎굵직이 (gukjigi, stoutly)

In practice, many Seoul speakers will uniformly use for all adverbs where the corresponding 하다 adjective remains current in the language.

For a few adverbs, the form is prescriptively used despite being derived from non-하다 adjectives. However, most of these words have fallen out of use in spoken Korean. Note also that certain adverbs which originate as contractions of longer adverbs may use even when there is no corresponding 하다 adjective for the contraction, and that some Sino-Korean adverbs with have lost their adjectival counterpart entirely.

None of this is the case in many of the non-standard dialects, such as Gyeongsang where 하이 (hai) is permissible.

Etymology 4Edit

Cognate to Standard Seoul Korean (eung, yes, yeah, yep, informal affirmative interjection). The interjection grammaticalized into a particle.[5]




  1. (southern dialectal, including Gyeongsang, Gangwon, Jeolla dialect) A word-final particle denoting certitude and emotional intimacy.
    종철! 그래... 이 아부지 아무 없대. (Gyeongsang dialect, Busan)
    Jongcheor-a! Jal ga-geurae-i... I abuji-neun amu hal mar-i eopdae-i.
    Go on to a good place, Cheol, my son. There’s nothing more I can say.
    (This is a quote from the father of Bak Jong-cheol, a university student tortured to death by the junta in 1987, during his son's funeral. It became a slogan of the June Struggle that toppled the regime that year. The translation is from a 2018 article in The Korea Herald.)
Alternative formsEdit
  • (-ing)Jeolla

Etymology 5Edit

See the main entry.


Revised Romanization?-i
Revised Romanization (translit.)?i
Yale Romanization?i



  1. Post-vowel and post- (l) allomorphic form of 으이 (-eu'i, familiar style ending).


  1. ^ Nam Pung-hyun (2012), “Old Korean”, in The Languages of Japan and Korea, Routledge, →ISBN, pages 41–72
  2. ^ Choe Seonggyu (2016) 차자표기 자료의 격조사 연구―삼국시대부터 고려시대까지를 중심으로— [Study of case markers in Sinographic sources: from the Three Kingdoms to the Goryeo Period], Seoul National University (PhD), pages 101—120
  3. 3.0 3.1 “A Korean Grammatical Borrowing in Early Middle Japanese Kunten texts and its Relation to the Syntactic Alignment of Earlier Japanese and Korean”, in Japanese and Korean Linguistics, volume 21, 2012
  4. ^ Lee, Ki-Moon; Ramsey, S. Robert (2011) A History of the Korean Language, Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, pages 173—174
  5. ^ 김태인 (2015), “서남방언 담화표지 '이' 고찰 [A study of the discourse marker -i in Southwestern Korean]”, in Bang-eonhak, volume 21