Korean object markers are simple enough to get into and figure out as a beginner though there are some tricks to them too. The 을 and 를 particles are attached to words to show that it is the object of a sentence.
A simple example of what an object is could be: “I like coffee”, coffee is the object; the thing I am doing something to or in this case liking.
So in Korean, you would say “커피를 좋아해” to denote that coffee is the object. In an example like this where the object is obvious and in casual conversation people can drop the 을/를, but that is the basics of it.
When to Use 을 or 를?
Which Korean object markers to use is determined by the words you attach the particle to. Words ending with a consonant use 을, while ones ending in a vowel use 를. It’s simply because of pronunciation; with something ending with a consonant, it’s easier to use 을 than 를 and vice versa.
Similar to how in English we will use a/an depending on if the word following it starts with a vowel or not. For example; “a phone” and “an phone” feels very different to say.
을 Object Particle Examples
침대에 앉아서 책을 읽었어요: I sat on my bed and read a book
저는 케이팝을 좋아해요: I like K-pop
우리 삼촌은 아빠는 매일 지하철을 타요: My uncle takes the subway everyday
를 Object Particle Examples
매일 차를 마셔요: I drink tea every day
박서준 영화를 보고 있어요: I’m watching Park Seojoon’s movie
한국어를 공부하고 있어요: I’m studying Korean
을/를 Usage for Location
을/를 can also be used as a location marker for when you are talking about a destination. This is used with certain words like 가다 (to go), 뛰다 (to run), 다니다 (to attend), and 내려오다 (to come down). So I’ll quickly show some examples for each!
When you would use 에 versus 를
를 has a different meaning attached to emphasize the purpose of a place (such as school, theater, hospital, etc.). So while “학교에 가다” simply means going to the location (you could be meeting someone there, going for a walk, etc.); using “학교를 가다” tends to mean you’re going to study, take a class, or something related to that location.
을/를 가다 Examples
제 남친는 어제 병원을 갔어요: My boyfriend went to hospital yesterday
오랜만에 학교를 가요: I’m going to school after a long time
을/를 뛰다 Examples
민호는 제주 해안을 뛰다: Minho runs along Jeju’s coast
을/를 다니다 Examples
일주일에 한번은 영어학원을 다녀요: I attend an English cram school/academy once a week
어떤 대학교를 다녀요?: Which university do you attend?
을/를 내려오다 Examples
급하게 산을 내려왔어요: I came down the mountain in a rush
퇴근하고 바로 대전을 내려왔어요: I came to Daejeon after work