Word Formation

The formation of a word in korean is really easy. Following are step by step rules and also examples to help you understand. The basis of it is the same, so if you can catch this, you’ll know how to read and write hangeul in an instant!

The system of writing of hangeul is like pasting the hangeul characters from left to right, top to bottom.

Think of a korean word as a matrix or boxes if you like where the position of the hangeul characters are generally written like below:

                                           word form

Follow these simple rules:

 Step 1:

Two Situations:

  •  For a word that starts with a consonant (eg. k,g, m , r , ss…..etc) except the “y”+vowel kind (eg. ㅖ,ㅑ…etc), write the character on the left hand side.

           Eg ,  the word “kam” has first consonant “k” which hangeul character is .

                                   Therefore, the first step is just to write

  • For a word that starts with a vowel (ㅏ,ㅣ,ㅡ,ㅑ,ㅓ,ㅗ,ㅜ) and the “y”+vowel kind (ㅑ,ㅒ,ㅖ,ㅠㅛ) and also the double vowel kind (ㅚ,ㅘ,ㅙ,ㅝ,ㅟㅞ,ㅢ) should be written with what i call a “filler” first. The filler is ““.  In this case, the filler functions to fill the “hole” due to the absence of a starting consonant.

          Eg:  the word “an” has first vowel which is “a” .  so we just write the filler as initial start.

Step 2:

    Note: A word starting with consonant MUST be followed by a vowel or double vowel or “y”+vowel kind.

    In the case of a word starting with a vowel or double vowel or “y”+vowel, we’re writing out that character.

  • If the vowel or  “y”+vowel is a vertically stemmed (eg. ㅏ,ㅣ,ㅐ,ㅓ,ㅒ,ㅖ …etc) it should be written to the right of the consonant or the filler.

         Eg:  The word “kam” [감] has vowel “a”  (hangeul character ㅏ)

                                  Thus until step 2 only, it would be written as  ㄱ+=

         Eg. The word “Hye” [혜] has “y”+vowel “ye” (hangeul character )

                              Thus the word will be written as ㅎ+ = 혜

         Eg:  The word “an” [안] starts with a vowel “a” (hangeul character )

                            Thus until step 2 only, it would be written as ㅇ+ =

If the vowel or “y” vowel is horizontally stemmed (eg ㅜ,ㅠ,ㅗ,ㅛ,ㅡ) it should be written right bellow the consonant or filler.

         Eg: the word “gu“* [구] has a vowel of “u” (hangeul character )

                            Therefore until step 2 only, it would be written as ㄱ+ =

          *Note: the word “gu” has only 2 hangeul characters “g” and “u” . Formation of word “gu” ends with 구.

         Eg: the word “yo” [요]  (hangeul character )

                          Until step 2 only, it would be written as ㅇ+ =

  • For double vowel (ㅘ,ㅚ,ㅙ,ㅝㅟㅞ,ㅢ)  the horizontally stem vowel will be written below the consonant or filler and the vertically stem vowel will be written to the right of the consonant or filler.

         Eg: the word “kwaen” [괜] has double vowel which is “wae” (hangeul is )

                          Until step 2 only, it will be ㄱ + =

          Eg: the word “wen” [웬] has double vowel which is “we” (hangeul is)

                        Until step 2 only, it will be  ㅇ+ =

Step 3:

Note that the maximum “boxes” one row can occupy is 2 columns. (with exception to double vowels).  

If the word requires a  final consonant or consonants, these will be written in the next row.

  • If there’s only one final consonant, the consonant will be written in the middle of the second row.

         Eg. For the word “kam” [감] the final consonant is “m” (hangeul is )

                 therefore the full formation of word is: ㄱ+ㅏ+ =

  • If there’s two final consonant, the consonants will be written from left to right of the second row

           Eg. The word “i-l-k” [읽] (we’ll get to pronounciation later)  final consonants r () and k ()

                 thus, the full formation of word is : ㅇ+ㅣ++ =

** Very important to remember that, a character that begins with a consonant must be followed by a vowel or double vowel or “y”+vowel and may end with a consonant or just leave it at as it . Unless its the ending of the word (ie on the second row) no two consonants should come successively.

 Try these on your own.

  • H-a-n                        [answer: ++ = ]
  • M-eo-n                     [answer: ++= ]
  • j-a                              [answer: + = ]
  • d-a                             [answer: + = ]
  • ss-eu                          [answer: + = ]
  • r-ae                            [answer: + = 래]
  • g-ye                            [answer: ㄱ+ㅖ = 계]
  • yae                             [answer: + = ]
  • a-l                               [answer: + = ]<- (r) changes to (l) as ending
  • yeo-l                           [answer: ++ = ]
  • ya-ng                          [answer: ++ = ] <-changes to “ng” as ending
  • wa-ng                         [answer: ++ = ]
  • h-oe                             [answer: ㅎ+ㅚ = 회]
  • wi                                 [answer: + = ]
  • a-n-h                           [answer: +++ = ]
  • i-ss                               [answer: ㅇ+ㅣ+ㅆ = 있]
  • eo-b-s                          [answer: ㅇ+ㅓ+ㅂ+ㅅ = 없]



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