Rules of writing hangul

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English - English
I started learning Korean a week ago and I'm now starting to get to know each letter of the hangul and write it and spell it out, but the problem is, I don't understand the concept of stacking the hangul on top of eachother or how to do it correctly.

Can anyone explain?
  • instantREILLY

    USA (English)
    It's somewhat hard to explain, but rather something you just kind of have to feel. The entire concept is really this:

    strokes < letters/characters < syllables < words < sentences

    This idea is basically the same in every language, but in Korean it is very visible. We're just gonna focus on how letters relate to syllables.

    All you really need to know, is that the placement of letters in a stack all starts with the vowel.

    This is easy, because there may only be one vowel sound per syllable.

    Here is a chart of the Korean vowel sounds.

    The actual vowel is in red, while the Korean consonant "iûng" (the little circle guy) is used as a place-holder. You'll see that certain vowels are horizontal (like "o" and "yu" and "û"), while others are more vertically shaped (like "a" and "yô" and "i").

    If the vowel is horizontal ... put the consonant next to it.
    If the vowel is vertical ... put the consonant beneath it.

    You'll see that dipthongs (two vowels put together to form one vowel sound) have their consonants placed to the top left. This helps to illustrate the idea that a vowel may never begin a syllable.

    But what if the syllable is just "a"? Or just "o"?

    Easy! You write the syllable exactly as it is on the chart: with the consonant "iûng" (the little circle guy again) as a silent place holder. You probably know that at the end of a syllable, "iûng" is pronounced like the "-ng" of "ring". But at the beginning of a syllable, it's just there to look pretty and complete the block/stack. Otherwise, you just have a loose letter floating around.

    In short, 1 consonant + 1 vowel sound = just like in the chart (but replace "iûng" with whatever consonant you need).

    Speaking of which, what do you do when your syllable has more than one consonant? It happens all the time. Lots of Korean words have a vowel sandwiched between two consonants. (ex: HAN instead of HA) Here's a barbaric number chart to show you the main structures of Korean syllables.

    * Remember: always go UP to DOWN, LEFT to RIGHT. (Start in the upper-left hand corner, and work your way down to the lower-right hand corner). In this chart, 2 is the vowel. 1, 3, and 4 are consonants. (Korean syllables never begin with two consonants

    C = consonant
    VV = vertical vowel
    HV = horizontal vowel

    1 2 (C + VV)

    (C + HV)

    (C + VV + C)

    (C + HV + C)

    (C + VV + C + C)

    1 (C + HV + C + C)

    Note: The letters squeeze or expand their shape to fill up the whole block.

    Here's an example sentence to show you what Korean writing might look like.








    (SS) *


    * (SS) = Doubled consonants are actually considered one letter, and therefore only take up one space. See this:

    I hope this helps even a little. You'll get the hang of it really quickly, I'm sure. It actually makes a lot more sense than English. It REALLY helps with learning grammar and such.


    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Great explanation, Instant. :thumbsup:

    Just to summarize, each "letter" represents a syllable and is actually composed of several letters. The definition of a syllable is each part of a word that contains one vowel sound (vowel or diphthong). As such, there is always exactly one vowel or diphthong in every syllable. However, there can be anywhere from one to four consonants, such that the possibilities are the following:

    1. V
    2. VC
    3. VCC
    4. CV
    5. CVC
    6. CVCC
    7. CCVCC

    So once you have that down, all you need to remember is whether to place the vowel next to or below the initial consonant(s) (any consonants that come after the vowel go underneath it). In the case of diphthongs, sometimes one vowel goes under and the other goes next to the consonant. It's very easy: out of the ten vowels, the first 4 and the last one always go next to the consonant, vowels 5-9 always go below it. Also, in scenarios 1-3, you use the place-holder because the first position cannot be occupied by a vowel.
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