I’ve been wondering for days what should I write about. I still don’t have it in me to sit a whole hour to study Korean but if I’m posting about Korean and whether it’s about something I already know or not, I don’t mind doing it for hours lol. I wondered how far should I backtrack and whether I should write about only grammar patterns but then I decided to tackle anything that I had found difficult to grasp while I was studying.
After understanding when to use 이/가, 은/는, 을/를 and 에/에서, I had a lot of problems trying to use the particle -(으)로 because while I did understand its function, I couldn’t quite produce it. Also, the books that I owned at that time weren’t good at explaining it either so sometimes I would get it right and other times wrong.
So far this particle has many usages so when it’s translated it takes many forms. However, I’ll be focusing only in its usage as a particle. N(으)로 can only be used with nouns and it’s (으)로 if the noun ends in any other consonant besides ㄹ and it’s 로 when it ends in a vowel or ㄹ. Many books define it according to the context that takes place but in the end, no matter what, it’s a particle that shows the method (way) by which something is done or accomplished. Therefore, if you are using something or become something then that’s when you use N(으)로.
A. It serves as a particle that denotes the method, instrument or means by which something is accomplished. Thus, N(으)로 in this particular context marks what is being used in order to do something. In this case, it can be translated as “using”, “by” or “with”.
a. 한국에 비행기로 왔어요 (I came to Korea by airplane).
b. 이 책상은 나무로 만들었어요 (This desk is made of wood).
In this second example, the word “using” is omitted but still retains the sense of what was used to build the desk.
c. 한국어로 말씀하세요 (Please say it in Korean).
Although it says “in” if you can substitute it for “using” you understand it as the mean in which communication can be achieved.
d. 붓으로 그림을 그립니다 (I’m painting a picture with a brush).
Note: If you can substitute in English with “using” then you are mostly correct in using the particle in these types of contexts
B. In the case of motion verbs (가다, 오다, 떠나다, etc.) it signifies heading somewhere. In this context, places or directional nouns assume the N(으)로 so it means the direction in which someone is going to a determined place.
a. 저는 남쪽으로 여행을 가겠어요 (I’m going to travel south).
b. 그 버스는 종로로 가지 않아요 (That bus doesn’t go to Jogno).
c. 어디로 가요? (Where are you going?)
It’d be more accurate to say instead: In which direction are you headed?
C. It can also be attached to nouns to express status, capacity, position or qualifications (this is for humans). It usually translates as “as”.
a. 저는 학생으로 한국에 왔어요. (I came to Korea as a student).
b. 제 오빠는 의사로 병원에서 일해요. (My older brother works in the hospital as a physician).
That’s it for now! If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment (kind of redundant but oh, well). I hope my explanation is clear and easy to understand but it’s kind of hard trying to explain is simple words. It’s also far from comprehensive post of all its usages as it only covers the most basic and used ones.