Simple Korean Pronunciation Guide

Jul 21, 2023

Mastering the sounds of Korean can have a significant impact on your speaking and listening abilities. This guide will introduce you to the key elements of Korean pronunciation.


Korean has 10 basic vowel phonemes, which are:

ㅏ: Like ‘a’ in “father”.
ㅑ: Like ‘ya’ in “yard”.
ㅓ: Somewhat like ‘uh’ in “hut”.
ㅕ: Somewhat like ‘yo’ in “yonder”.
ㅗ: Like ‘o’ in “no”.
ㅛ: Like ‘yo’ in “yoga”.
ㅜ: Like ‘u’ in “moon”.
ㅠ: Like ‘you’.
ㅡ: No exact equivalent in English, somewhat like ‘eu’ in “Euler”.
ㅣ: Like ‘ee’ in “see”.


Korean has 14 basic consonant phonemes. Many have similar sounds to English, but some are different:

ㄱ: Between ‘g’ in “go” and ‘k’ in “kick”, depending on its position.
ㄴ: Like ‘n’ in “no”.
ㄷ: Between ‘d’ in “do” and ‘t’ in “take”, depending on its position.
ㄹ: Somewhere between ‘r’ and ‘l’ in English, depending on its position.
ㅁ: Like ‘m’ in “me”.
ㅂ: Between ‘b’ in “be” and ‘p’ in “pie”, depending on its position.
ㅅ: Between ‘s’ in “see” and ‘t’ in “tea”, depending on its position.
ㅇ: Silent at the start of a word, like ‘ng’ in “song” at the end of a word.
ㅈ: Between ‘j’ in “jeep” and ‘ch’ in “cheap”, depending on its position.
ㅊ: Like ‘ch’ in “chop”.
ㅋ: Like ‘k’ in “kick”.
ㅌ: Like ‘t’ in “take”.
ㅍ: Like ‘p’ in “pie”.
ㅎ: Like ‘h’ in “hat”.


In Korean, stress generally doesn’t change the meaning of words as it can in English, but stress usually falls on the first syllable of a word.

Practicing Pronunciation

Pronunciation takes practice. Listening to native Korean speakers and repeating the sounds, words, and sentences they use can significantly improve your pronunciation. Remember to be patient with yourself and keep practicing!

For Teachers

Learn how to link this guide to your speakable speaking assignments: Setting Students Up for Success: Guide to using Text Cards for Instructions.

This guide is a simplified overview and is not exhaustive. Pronunciation can vary widely across different Korean-speaking regions. This guide is based on standard Korean as spoken in South Korea. If your students are learning a specific dialect, some of these guidelines may need to be adjusted.


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