Lesson #2: Double Consonants and Vowels

YO. Time to complete your mastery of the alphabet! Hopefully you had the basic…basics down, but in case you don’t, here are some more examples of the basic consonant/basic vowel combinations:

  • 하나: (ha-na) - one
  • 라디오: (ra-de-o) - radio
  • 가방: (ga-bang) - bag
  • 아침: (ah-cheem) - morning
  • 밤: (bam) - night

But the consonants and vowels mentioned in the last lesson isn’t it, or else there’d be no reason for this lesson. These basic consonants and vowels can be combined into Double Consonants and Double Vowels. These tend to get a bit messy, so I’ll take them on one by one. Remember, you can refer to the KBS Radio Website, Second Lesson for a native speaker’s rendition of all these new concepts. First up is Double Vowels.

Double Vowels

So the 10 basic vowels (in case you forgot them) are as follows: ㅏ(a)ㅑ(ya)ㅓ(eo)ㅕ(yeo)ㅗ(o)ㅛ(yo)ㅜ(u)ㅠ(yu)ㅡ(eu)ㅣ(e)

These 10 vowels can be combined to make several new vowels called Double Vowels. They can be combined in a number of different ways, but only two vowels to a combination. There are 11 of these double vowels, bringing the grand total up to 21 vowels. A little daunting but don’t worry; since these vowels are combinations of two basic vowels, just combine the sounds of the basic vowels and you’re good to go!

These new double vowels are: ㅐ(ae)ㅒ(yae)ㅔ(e)ㅖ(ye)ㅘ(wa)ㅙ(wae)ㅚ(oe)ㅝ(wo)ㅞ(weh)ㅟ(wui)ㅢ(ui)

You might be wondering why these are called double vowels. Well, like I mentioned before, they are made combining two basic vowels to make a new one. Here’s an example: ㅏ + ㅣ = ㅐ. Makes sense right? All but two of them use the basic vowels as building tools, the exceptions being ㅙ and ㅞ. These are combined by adding ㅗ to ㅐand ㅜ to ㅔ, respectively.

If you go and hear the lessons on the KBS Radio site, you might think that the ㅐ and ㅔsounds are the same. But they’re not, just trust me. And it’s okay if you get them confused; native speakers get them confused too! When spelling, it just becomes a matter of concentration and remembering which one goes with which word.

Double Consonants

There are actually two different scenarios when tackling Double Consonants: When the consonants are the same, and when they’re different.

The consonants that sound the same are called 쌍 (ssang) Consonants. There are only five consonants that can act as 쌍 consonants. They are: ㄲ ㄸ ㅃ ㅆ ㅉ. Honestly, these do not sound that different from their single counterparts. The only difference is that these receive a lot more emphasis or stress when read.

Double Consonants are more than a little bit confusing. There are actually a set combination of which consonants can be paired with which, and their pronunciation, depending on certain rules, changes entirely. What I’ve gone by is the first consonant in the pair ALWAYS gets pronounced. The second one either changes the sound of the second character or gets its sound added to the second character or stays silent. I did tell you it was confusing. But don’t worry too much about this one, because they very rarely come up. If you are worrying, then check out this chart, courtesy of dahnyogakoreaclub.com.

A quick pronunciation note. Still confused about the rules? Let’s take an example given on the chart, 앉다/앉았어요.

  • 앉다: (ahnj-dah) - just add the second sound to the end of the first character.
  • 앉았어요: (ahn-jas-uh-yo) - pronounced like 안잤어요.

That was a pretty long lesson, but I hope it was easy enough to understand. To recap, here are some examples of words using Double Consonants and Double Vowels:

  • 딸기: (ddal-gi) - strawberry
  • 학생: (hak-sang) - student
  • 책: (chaek) - book
  • 책상: (chaek-sang) - desk
  • 펜 - (paen) - pen
  • 사과: (sa-gwa) - apple
  • 읽다: (elg-da) - to read
  • 개: (gae) - dog
  • 꽃: (kkot) - flower

These first two lessons should allow you to read anything written in Korean ever. Congrats on learning how to read! Pretty easy right? If you want even more practice, go ahead and follow senshuk for his Korean Word of the Day!

If you do have any questions, though, feel free to formspring me. Until next time, 안녕~.

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