L2-G: Object marker

In this article, we will look at the object marker ~을/를.

In most articles that I saw, the explaination for the use of marker 을/를 is that these are object markers. Full stop.

I was like, what the hell is object markers? I’m not super rocket scientist and I’m still struggling to differentiate between verbs, nouns, adjectives etc (I mean, I don’t contruct a sentence in english by thinking what kind of words these are, I just construct them- probably the reason that lead to my bad grammar).

How it works:

Ok, so what exactly do object markers do? We have establish that it marks the object.

In more detail, an object is the thing which the action (verb) does to.

Like if you “write on a paper” the object is the paper because you are doing a verb (writing) onto the object (paper). More examples are “learn korean”: the verb is ‘to learn’ and the object in which the verb is acting on is ‘korean language’.

The rule:

  •  add to the object which ends with a consonant
  • add to the object which ends with vowel

Let’s take it a bit further. From the sentence “I drink coffee” , can you identify the object? The verb in this sentence is “to drink” and the object that the verb is acting upon (ie. the thing that you drink) is “coffee”. Therefore the object of the sentence is “coffee”.

               to drink = 마시다     coffee = 커피       

    Since coffee [커피] ends with a vowel ‘ㅣ’ thus we add object particle 를 to it.

    Polite ending: 마시다 + 어요  = 마시어요 = 마셔요. (contraction occured)

    Sentence: 커피 마셔요.  (I) drink coffee.


A little harder: From the sentence “I like to drink coffee” [notice the difference with the sentence on top], try identifying the verb and the object its acting upon. Now, “drink coffee” is to describe what I like and it’s not what I am doing. Thus the verb in this sentence is “to like” and NOT “to drink”.  Instead “drink coffee” is the object. Now, we haven’t got to the stage where we can make “drink coffee” as the object (cause there’s an extra verb in it), however, you can safely imply this sentence with “I like coffee” [it is implied the act of drinking coffee is what you like].

   to like: 좋아 하다   [remember to put it in polite form] and all others the same as above

     Sentence: 커피 좋아해요.  (I) like coffee.

Now I want to point out something with 좋아하다 (to like) and 좋다.

If you watch a lot of dramas, you’ll hear the hero or heroin sometimes saying 넌 좋아요 (I like you).

좋아요 is the polite ending form of 좋다 ; 넌 is the contracted form of 너는 .

Now why do they use the subject marker 는 on 너 (you) instead of object marker 를?

On the face of it, 좋다 is not actually a verb unlike 좋아하다. 좋아하다 has 하다 (to do) which makes it a verb [same goes with 노래 by itself means song which is a noun but 노래하다 means ‘to sing a song’ (lit: to do a song) which turns the noun into a verb. Note that not all nouns can be turn into a verb by adding 하다!]

So if you’re using 좋다 then use the object with subject marker : 너 좋아요.

If you’re using 좋아하다 (verb) then you have to use the object with object marker: 너 좋아해요.


More example using 좋다 and 좋아하다: Say the sentence ‘I like to read books’ (equivalently: I like books)

  Using 좋다, use a subject marker: 책은 좋아요.

  Using 좋아하다(which is a verb), use object marker: 책을 좋아해요.


  •  Sometimes you see contraction like 널 (너를) and  뭘 (뭐를) . It usually happens when there is no ending consonant to the word. The ㄹ is just stuck to the word as the ending consonant. This is not a must, 너를 is acceptable. 널 is more colloquial.

Try it yourself:

1) Translate these sentence:

  • I like music.
  • I like korean music.
  • I study korean.
  • I watch movie.
  • I watch japanese movie.

2) Try making other sentences that you can think of.




3 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for putting time into this site. Every piece of grammar help is appreciated by us korean learners.


  2. Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at blackhatbootcamp.com/listofwordpressblogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.

  3. Thanks for this awesome page. you’re right, my teacher just went this is an object marker. end, na-da. and because of time constrain and the number of people in class, she can’t really explain it (or more like everytime i raise a question, it makes me look like an idiot when half the class is lost as well.) so this page along with the subject marker one, is a complete life-saver. thanks alot yo:D

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