Auxiliary markers for contrast, topic, selection – Korean Markers #10

Until last week, we learned 격조사. They are used to specify the grammatical roles of the words in senteces.

From today, we’ll learn 보조사, auxiliary markers. These markers are used to add meaning like contrast, topic, exclusion, inclusion, choice.


I’ve covered the difference between 은/는 vs. 이/가 long ago. In the article, I’ve told you that 은/는 is used for contrast and topic.

나는 갈 건데, 너는 어떡할래?
I’m going. How about you?

In this case, it means “whatever you say, I’ll go.” The speaker is contrasting himself against all other people.

영어는 할 줄 아는데, 스페인어는 잘 못 해요.
I can speak English, but I cannot speak Spanish.

In this case, you’re contrasting what you can do. You can speak English, but you cannot speak Spanish.

And it is also used for topic. It means it is usually used to introduce or explain about something.

그 사람은 딸이 학교 선생님이에요.
The daughter of that man is a teacher in a school.

저는 영국에서 온 크리스입니다.
I’m Chris from UK.


If you want to talk about selection, you can use markers like “든지”, “나”, “(이)나마”, “(이)라도”.


든(지) is used when you have to choose one from a list.

소설이든 만화든 뭐든 읽는게 외국어 공부에 도움이 돼.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel or a cartoon. It’s helpful for you to study language if you read them.

학교든지, 공원이든지 우선 나가봐야 할 것 같은데?
Whether it’s school or park, I should go out of my house first.

Some Koreans write it as “던지”, but it’s wrong to use “던지” for choices. It’s for past experience.


나 is used when it’s not a best option.

먹을 거 없으면 피자나 먹자.
Let’s eat pizza if you didn’t decide what to eat.

남은 시간에는 영화나 봐야겠다.
I’ll kill the time by watching some movies.


(이)나마 is used when you should choose something even if you don’t like it or it’s the only option.

조금이나마 보답하는 길이라고 생각합니다.
I believe this is the way to pay you back at least.

희미하게나마 길을 찾은 것 같다.
It’s not clear. But it seems that I found a way.


(이)라도 is used when you cannot choose the best option.

이거라도 마실래?
How about drinking this?

내일이라도 괜찮으면 올래?
If it’s ok tomorrow, will you come?