When to use 이/가, 은/는, 을/를 and 에/에서

I’m finally back!~ Well, this post is mainly about when to use 이/가, 은/는, 을/를 and 에/에서. Also, is more like a tip you should memorize because it will reduce your grammar mistakes. While this post may be kind of basic, it’s not only an important one but also contains some information that it’s not explicitly taught in books. Likewise, there’s these small nuances that can change the particle into another so I thought that it might be useful to actually write about them here.


I. 이/가, 은/는 vs. 을/를

There are ways to know which kind of particle you should use. However, it must be also taken into account that it’s not foolproof (or more accurately mistake-proof).

A. 이/가:  The first thing about this particle is that you will always use it if the verb is a descriptive one (also known as adjectives) or negations. They also are used to introduce new information. It is always used with 있다.


1. 그 치마 너무 예뻐서 샀어요.

2. 이 사람은 한국 사람 아닙니다.

note: Be careful of the negations because if the noun you use is followed by a verb is not used with 이/가 (ex. 저는 식사를 하지 않아요).

B. 은/는: This is usually the bane of Korean language learners at first. Usually, it is used when the speaker is providing already known information to the listener. Personally, what I do is that when I’m writing long sentences, I use it to mark the topic (the thing the sentence is about). In addition, you will always use  은/는 with 이다.


1. 이번 학기 매주 목요일에 수업이 많이 있어서 목요일에 만나는 것 힘들겠습니다.

2. 저 미국 사람이다.

C. 을/를: You will always use it with with action verbs like 보다, 읽다, 쓰다, etc.

1. 아침을 먹었어요.

2. 어떤 음식을 먹지 못해요?

Advise: Always remember which are the descriptive verbs and the action verbs and don’t be fooled by 하다 because it can be both. Also, your safest bet is to use 은/는 when you’re not sure if you should use 이/가.


II. 에 vs. 에서

Both particles are used to mark a place or time but they connote different things. Also, in the case of places, they are always used with directional verbs such as 가다, 오다, 다니다, etc.

A. 에:  It is a particle to denote a place or time. It is always used with the verbs 가다 and its derivations (there are other verbs as well). It is meant to indicate an static place where the subject is headed. Also, it can be used only once in the sentence (it can only mark one time and place). However, if can be used more than once if it’s marking a place and a time.


1. 작년 제주도 갔어요.

B. 에서: It is a particle that marks a dynamic location in which something is done. It is always used with 오다 (it’s derivations as well), 내리다, etc. It can also be used with non-directional verbs but it is mainly with 하다.

1. 제주도에서 삼일 동안 여행을 했어요.

2. 저는 미국에서 왔어요.

3. 버스에서 내렸어요.

Note: 에서 will always be used with 오다 and it’s compounds verbs. However, there are particular cases in which you use 에 with 오다 (sadly, I can’t remember right now when it was).


Well, that’s pretty much it. I hope it is useful to you all and if there’s something you think I should add, please let me know ^^. Questions and comments are welcome as well.