Korean Sentence Structure – What is this? 이것은 무엇입니까? 

 October 8, 2017

By  Satish Satyarthi

여러분 안녕하세요!

Welcome to the very first lesson in this series. If you want to learn Korean, then begin your Korean Learning journey with us! In this lesson we will learn the basic structure of Korean sentences. We will learn how to make very basic sentences like – “What is this/that?”, “This/that is Noun.”.

We’ll be using the book SNU Level 1 as reference to teach here. If you don’t have this book, click here to download it’s pdf for free : https://www.pdfdrive.com/korean-level-1-e186280494.html

Before getting into the lesson, you must have a prior knowledge of Hangeul. If you are not familiar with Hangeul yet, check out this video:

In this lesson we'll learn :

  • How to make sentences with This/That
  • Topic Marking Particle

[Chapter text from the book SNU Level 1]

이것은 무엇입니까? [What is this?] 

이것은 무엇입니까? [ What is this?]

책상입니다. [ (This is a) desk.]

저것은 무엇입니까? [ What is that?]

저것은 의자입니다. [ That is a chair.]

Let’s take a look at the grammar. 

Topic Marking Particle ( 은/는)은/는 are the topic marking particles in Korean language. They don't have any meaning of their own and are used in a sentence for grammatical purposes. They are placed after a noun/ pronoun to :

  • introduce it as the topic of the sentence 
  • show contrast 

How to choose between 은/ 는?

•If preceding word ends with a final consonant , then use 은

Ex, 이것 + 은 = 이것은 (This)

저것 + 은 = 저것은  (That)

If the preceding word ends without a final consonant , then use 는

Ex : 의자 + 는 = 의자는 (Chair)

저 + 는 = 저는 (I)

In this lesson we've came across two different sentence structures.

1. N은 무엇입니까? [What is N(noun)?]

If we have to write" What is this? " in Korean, we'll write , 이것은 무엇입니까?

Here, 이것은 means this/ it and topic marking particle 은 has been used because the word 이것 ends with a final consonant. 무엇 means what. The verb 이다 has been used in this sentence.

In Korean, when we use the verbs in a sentence then just the verb stem is used along with a verb ending. Hence, we write 이( verb stem of 이다)  +ㅂ니까, which becomes  입니까.

So the finale sentence becomes, 이것은 무엇입니까?Likewise we can write,저것은 무엇입니까? [ What is that?]

2. (이것은/ 저것은)N- 입니다  [This/That is -N(noun)]

If we have to write" This is a desk. " in Korean, we'll write , 이것은 책상입니다.

 Here, 이것 means this/it and topic marking particle 은 has been used because the word 이것 ends with a final consonant. 책상 is desk. And verb ending -ㅂ니다 has been used along with the verb 이다.

As we mentioned earlier, that we only use the verb stem in writing Korean sentences. Hence we write 이( verb stem of 이다) + ㅂ니다, which becomes 입니다. So the final sentence becomes,

이것은 책상입니다. [ This is a desk. ]

Likewise we can write,

저것은 의자입니다.  [ This is a chair. ]


  1. 은/는 is used to mark the topic of the sentence. 
  2. 입니까 is used in questions and 입니다 is used in statements.

Click here to view the video lecture :

Thank you. If you have any questions. Leave them below and we'll answer.

Satish Satyarthi

I am Satish, a Korean language learner and educator. I did my Bachelors degree in Korean language from JNU, Delhi and Masters degree in Korean Language Education from Seoul National University, South Korea. and an M.Phil. in Korean from JNU. I have a passion for education and technology. I have been involved in Korean language education and research for more than 10 years and have trained hundreds of Korean language learners across the globe, online and in physical classrooms.

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  1. Thank you so much Sir for creating such platform. I was very frustrated about where to learn korean. Since I have learned hangul and many more things. I saw that video of basic korean sentence structure. I’m waiting of your new video Sir 🙂 where i can learn deep grammar of korean.
    I’m thankful to you Sir 🙂

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