은/는~을/를 만듭니다?

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goophy

Senior Member
Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
Hi,
What is the difference between the following sentences?
A. 술은 쌀로 만듭니다.
B. 쌀로 술을 만듭니다.

I don't quite understand why some sentences use 을/를, and some sentences use 은/는. How do I distinguish these rules?

정말 감사합니다.
Many thanks!!
 
  • pcy0308

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hello goophy,
    "을/를" known as "the object markers" (or "the object particles") simply specify what the object of a sentence is. Take your sentence-B for example, "쌀로 (A가) 술을 만듭니다" means "A makes alcohol with rice". Here, "술" or alcohol is the object, which is on the receiving end of the action/verb "만들다/to make"; it is being "made".

    "은/는" are known as "the topic markers" (or "the topic particles") that give you and idea what the sentence is about. In your sentence-A, "술은 쌀로 만듭니다", the sentence is about how "술/alcohol" is made (and by whom - which is omitted as it is not the focus or something of interest/importance here). In other words, "alcohol" is set as the topic of the sentence, and (edit: "을/를") "은/는" serves to indicate that very topic.

    As you may have noticed already, both these markers are placed right behind what they are indicating. Try making your own sentences using these particles, and the forum will be able to help you further and comment on whatever you come up with. Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited:

    goophy

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you very much for your detailed explanation, pcy0308! However I still cannot catch the nuance. Could you make contexts for both sentences in English, so I can try to figure out the difference between using 은/는 and 을/를?
    In other words, "alcohol" is set as the topic of the sentence, and "을/를" serves to indicate that very topic.
    This is from the first sentence A, 을/를 quoted here, do you mean 은/는?

    My understanding is that both A and B mean "the alcohol is made with rice". I can understand that 술 is as the object of the verb 만들다. What I don't understand is 술 as the subject part. There must exist a very subtle difference which baffled me. In short, in what context would I use sentence A, and in what other context would I use sentence B? Could you please make up the contexts for both sentences in English? Thank you so much in advance
     

    pcy0308

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hello goophy,
    Sorry about the confusion; I corrected my comment above, and yes it was the "은/는" (the topic markers) I was referring to, not the "을/를". As for your question, though both are translated similarly, the second sentence puts more emphasis on "쌀" (rice). If you were to translate each sentence without disregarding the subtle nuance in question, it'd be more like "alcohol is made from rice (A)" and "one makes alcohol with rice (B)". There are different ways to interpret these sentences, but one way to go about differentiate them is to notice which set of information each sentence intends to underline the most: the sentence-B seems to highlight the information that it is "쌀" (rice) that is used for making "술" (alcohol); in the sentence-A, the emphasis is more evenly distributed and to a lesser extent on "쌀" (rice) when compared to the sentence-B (i.e. dealing with the general topic of "술" (alcohol) rather than focusing specifically on how alcohol is made with "쌀" (rice). Taking into consideration that "-은", the topic marker is used for the sentence-A, the main topic of the sentence is established as "술" (rice), and though the information that "쌀" is used in the making of it is a crucial piece of information in the sentence-A, it still is not as stressed as it is in the sentence-B - relatively speaking. Of course, this does not mean the information about "쌀" is in any way insignificant in the sentence-A. It is simply less accentuated vis-à-vis its counterpart in the sentence-B (just in a relative sense so that it is easier for you to understand the nuance between the two sentences).

    Just as a side note, keep in mind when these sentences are spoken, what is being emphasized may change depending on your intonation, how and what you choose to accentuate when enunciating. Hope this helps.
     

    goophy

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you so much for your detailed explanation, pcy0308. I'll find time to peruse it later. I'm in the middle of handling something right now. I'll be right back. I've appreciated for what you have done for me. Thank you so much!
     

    pcy0308

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hello goophy,
    No worries. Seriously though, try coming up with your own sentences using these particles or simulate and imitate those nuances. It will really help you understand when and how the particles are used. Give it a try, and the forum will surely help out too. :) :thumbsup:
     

    goophy

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you for your understanding! pcy0308!
    It just pops up on my mind: to roughly make it short, does sentence A emphasize on the alcohol, while sentence B on the ingredient?
     

    pcy0308

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Yes and no. I think I said the emphasis seems more or less evenly distributed in the first sentence as it is a very general, standard and plainly constructed sentence, just as in English ("alcohol is made from rice" - it is hard to pinpoint where the emphasis is on as it can go either way depending on the context that precedes it or how you orally express it). Like I said, the difference is very subtle and especially when speaking, the emphasis may shift. The second one does seem to be emphasizing "쌀" more. Then again, if whichever context or sentence that precede it talked about "alcohol", it wouldn't be illogical to say the emphasis is on "술". Hope this helps
     

    goophy

    Senior Member
    Taiwanese, Mandarin Chinese
    @pcy0308: Thank you for your suggestion.I will try to make more sentences to improve my Korean. I self-study Korean, and this forum helps a lot!! Thank you once again for your help!! It's really helpful!! :)
     
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