Korean punctuation may already look familiar to some of you, especially if you come from an English-speaking nation.
In this lesson, we will quickly and simply go over some of the basics of punctuation in Korean writing.
Punctuation marks in the Korean language
Punctuation marks in Korean are called 문장무호 (munjangmuho). If you’re planning on composing something in Korean, from school essays to anything else, it is good to familiarize yourself with the punctuations used in Korea, just to be sure you’re on top of it.
This is a part of Korean grammar that isn’t typically taught in the lowest levels, so knowing these early on as you learn Korean may even be advantageous to you. Below are the commonly-used ones you’ll encounter as you learn Korean. Know their differences from each other and how to use them.
Periods (.) – 마침표 (machimpyo)
In Korean, there are two purposes to using periods. The first one is to note the end of a sentence. The second is to use abbreviations and dates.
With dates, the period is specifically used when you write the date by using numbers only. The use of periods in the Korean language seems largely similar to how it’s used in other languages, too.
Commas (,) – 쉼표 (swimpyo)
A comma is used in multiple instances in Korean, in similar ways to many other languages. It can be used in a paired sentence, to list correlated things, or to alternatively separate items from each other.
A comma can also be used to separate clauses within a singular sentence, as well as to reduce phrases that are recurring. Additionally, it can be used after spoken phrases and answers, and after some vocabulary that would otherwise end a statement.
Question mark (?) – 물음표 (mureumpyo)
This naturally marks the end of a question. It can be used for any kind of questions, it doesn’t have to be used only when presenting direct questions. However, if your sentence has more than one question in it, add the question mark only once, at the very end.
Exclamation mark (!) – 느낌표 (neukkimpyo)
Whenever you want to make an exclamatory statement, finish it with the exclamation mark. This includes sentences that express being surprised, commands, shouting, remarks, and also expressing perfection.
Double quotation marks (” “) – 큰 따옴표 (keun ttaompyo)
Just like in many other languages, these quotation marks are used to mark spoken words as well as dialogues. It can additionally be used to mark a quoted speech. In addition, they are used to represent different animal sounds.
Single quotation marks (‘ ‘) – 작은 따옴표 (jageun ttaompyo)
These are used to mark a specific quoted phrase within a quote, as well as to mark one’s thoughts. You can also use it in a conversation to indicate indirect or reported speech by another different speaker. You can just use it to emphasize certain words or a conversation.
Ellipsis (…) – 줄임표 (jurimpyo)
This one has two uses in written Korean. It’s used to either express the speech trailing off or when there is silence in speech.
Colon (:) – 쌍점 (ssangjeom)
The colon can also be used in two different ways. First, it can be used to introduce the different parts of a list. For example, when you are writing about an event, you may use the colon to introduce each separate item like location, date, and so on. You’ll also use the colon to separate hours from minutes when indicating time.
Tilde (~) – 물결표 (mulgyeolpyo)
Continuing the trend of having two uses, tilde can be used to express a time period or to indicate a distance. In the English language, it would translate as the same meaning as “from X to Y”. But in writing, you can simply use tilde to express the same.
Slash (/) – 빗금 (bitgeum)
With a slash, you can indicate the “per” of measurements such as price, speed, and other similar ones. For example, the price of apples per kg.
Parentheses (( )) – 소괄호 (sogwalho)
In writing, parentheses are used to either include additional information within a text or to provide the original word for loan vocabulary taken from other languages.
Middle dot (ㆍ) – 가운뎃점 (gaundetjeom)
Lastly, we have the middle dot. This isn’t as widely used among different languages, and it is a recent addition to grammar rules, too. By using this middle dot, one can make lists of similar things, or mark significant dates, such as national holidays.
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