The Pronunciation Rule of ㅇ[null/ng]

Korean has an unusual consonant ㅇ, which is silent, depending on its position within a syllable.

As you know, Korean characters consist of at least one consonant and one vowel. If just the vowel sound is needed, ㅇ is used as a filler. That’s because ㅇdoesn’t have any sound when it is located at the beginning of a syllable. On the other hand, at the end of a syllable, it’s pronounced as [ng].

Let’s take a look at an example, 용 [yong] (dragon).

The first ㅇ is silent. But, the second ㅇ, which is 받침 [batchim], has a [ng] sound. Therefore, 용 is pronounced as [yong].

Interestingly, ㅇ has a very unique pronunciation rule because it has no sound at the beginning of a syllable. As a Korean teacher, I’m definitely sure this rule is the most essential one for your native-like pronunciation.

Please keep in mind if a final consonant (받침) is followed by ㅇ, the consonant is pronounced as the second syllable’s initial consonant for ease of pronunciation.

Can you try to speak out the word below in two different ways?

할아버지 [ha-labeoji](grandfather)

① [할아버지] = [hal-abeoji]

② [하라버지] = [ha-labeoji]

See the difference? It’s much easier to pronounce [하라버지] than [할아버지], right?

If ㅇ is preceded by final consonant, the pronunciation of the consonant is ‘moved’ to the position of the ㅇ.

할아버지 [하라버지] [ha-labeoji] grandfather

도서관에 [도서과네] [doseogwane] to the library

목요일에 [모교이레] [mogyoi-le] on Thursday

일요일에 [이료이레] [i-lyo-i-le] on Sunday

옆에 [여페] [yeope] beside

있어요 [이써요] [isseoyo] to exist, to have

읽어요 [일거요] [ilgeoyo] to read

앉아요 [안자요] [anjayo] to sit

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post!
Don’t hesitate to comment below or contact me if you have any questions!

This posting is from the blog ‘Organic Korean.’
Original Post:
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Reference :

  1. Taylor I, Taylor M. Writing And Literacy In Chinese, Korean, And Japanese. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co.; 1995.
  2. Shin J, Kiaer J, Cha J. The Sounds Of Korean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2012.
  3. Korean/Essential Pronunciation Rules — Wikibooks, open books for an open world. 2015. Available at: Accessed December 16, 2015.
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