빨건색 자전거 비싸 예요

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Translation: The red bike is expensive.

A magic mountain miracle!

I cannot stress how excited I was yesterday. So excited, in fact, that I barely even cared about the 아줌마 who was glaring and giving me the evil eye as it was starting. Sorry lady, there are literally four stone seats there, and I was on one. Leaving three others for your sitting pleasure. There was no need for me to move off the one I had already been sitting on to give it to you. Because there were three others readily available.

(This is, of course, assuming that’s why she was in her mood. Maybe she just couldn’t understand why the foreigner she sat down next to was scribbling Korean phrases into a notebook while half-coherently repeating said phrases to himself. That could’ve easily been a reason to.)

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I had one goal to work on this weekend: start my exploration of Korean grammar. Now I had already uncovered the key formula a month or two back: N + 이에요 (if the noun ends with a consonant) or N + 예요 (if the noun ends with a vowel). What I failed to do was capitalize off that knowledge. I left it to stew in the back of my brain while I focused solely on vocabulary acquisition. This week, after my normal dialogue warm-up exercises, I dove in head first as I felt I finally knew enough nouns to make making sentences more than an exercise in futility.

자전거 예요 is, at its core, extremely basic. Which is fine for me, as I’m a beginner at a sub-basic level. “It is a bike.”

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It’s amazing how creating a sentence at once so extremely basic can be so amazingly exciting. I mean seriously – compare “It is a bike” to my previous sentence “It’s amazing how creating a sentence at once so extremely basic can be so amazingly exciting.”

Notice the difference? That’s the difference between decades of fluency and barely being able to string together words. But it’s a start. And just like a flailing, bumbling toddler who is just learning how to walk, once I knew I could do it, I started knocking all the ideas over.

First with new vocab words that I was barely remembering: 간호사 예요. Basically, “it is a nurse,” which makes no sense. Unless we’re talking about a robot nurse. Or perhaps an anthropomorphic fox (여우) nurse. But we’re not, or I wasn’t, so 간호사 quickly evolved into: 그녀 간호사 예요. Here combining two vocab words with the phrase – 그녀 (she) with 간호사 (nurse).

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Which was all fine for about 2.5 seconds before I realized that I wasn’t using the subject markers. Yes, Korean uses subject markers which are mainly suffixes attached to words to indicate who or what is the subject of a sentence. So back at that obstensibly “basic” sentence once again! Round three!

그녀는 간호사 예요.

And there it sat. “She is a nurse.” With “she” clearly, and properly, indicated as the sentence’s subject. And there I sat, beeming in the glow of accomplishment, while that 아줌마 continued to try to throw shade in my direction.

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