Vowels - 모음

While English has only 5 vowels - a, e, i, o ,u - Korean has 21 vowels.
The word '모음' is derived from Chinese characters - '어미 모(母)' means a mother, and '소리 음(音)' means a sound, which makes the word 'the mother sound'(어미 소리).
Korean vowels cannot be used without a consonant. They do not have their own pronounciation. However when you need to speak vowels only, it should be preceeded by the consonant 'ㅇ'. For example, to speak a vowel 'ㅛ', you have to add the consonant 'ㅇ' to 'ㅛ'(요).

The vowel consists of monophthong(a single vowel) and diphthong(a duplication vowel).
When you speak monophthong your tongue or lips will be fixed and for diphthong, your tongue or lips will move.

단모음 Monophthong 이중모음 Diphthong
ㅏ [a] ㅑ [ya]
l [i] ㅕ[yeo]
ㅡ [eu] ㅛ [yo]
ㅜ [u] ㅠ [yu]
ㅗ [o] ㅒ [yae]
ㅓ [eo] ㅖ [ye]
ㅐ [ae] ㅘ [wa]
ㅟ [wi] ㅙ [wae]
ㅚ [oe] ㅢ [ui]
ㅔ[e] ㅝ [wo]
ㅞ [we]

'ㅔ' and 'ㅐ' are not distinguished in pronunciation.
Example) 게(crab) and 개(dog) sound the same.

'ㅚ', 'ㅙ' and 'ㅞ' also have the same pronunciation.

'ㅖ' is often pronounced as 'ㅔ'.
Example) 예(example), 셰프(chef) but 계피(cinnamon) is pronounced as 게피 and 실례(excuse) as 실레.

단모음 발음 Monophthong pronunciation

ㅏ a (as in tart, pasta, father)
아가씨 (Miss) 가방 (bag) 사진 (photograph)
ㅓ uh (as uncle, in cut, uh-huh)
머리 (head) 어 (yes) 거실 (living room)
ㅗ o (as in orange, ointment, soil)
모자 (hat) 코 (nose) 고드름 (icicle)
ㅜ oo (as in room, coo, tattoo)
후추 (black pepper) 주방 (kitchen) 우주 (the universe)
ㅡ ('le' in French)
크다 (big) 으깨다 (to mash) 그네 (swing)
ㅣ ee (as in teeth, bee, peel)
이쑤시개 (toothpick) 이빨 (teeth) 기침 (cough)
ㅐ a (as in past, cast, cat)
개 (dog) 새 (bird) 내일 (tomorrow)
ㅟ wi (as in we, will, window)
휘파람 (whistle) 사위 (son-in-law) 쥐 (mouse)
ㅚ we (as in wail, when)
외국 (foreign country) 괴물 (monster) 쇠고기 (beef)
ㅔ e (as in best, nest, pen)
게 (crab) 에누리 (discount) 세로 (vertical)

이중모음 발음 Diphthong pronunciation

ㅢ ui (pronounce both 'ㅡ' and 'ㅣ' very fast)
의사 (doctor) 의형제 (sworn brothers) 의견 (opinion; idea)
ㅒ ya (as in yam)
얘기 (story) 걔 (that person)
ㅕ yoe (as in yearn, young)
여자 (female) 마녀 (witch) 겨드랑이 (armpit)
ㅑ ya (as in yard, yahoo, yacht)
야구 (baseball) 야 (hey) 황야 (wilderness)
ㅛ yo (as in yolk, yo-yo)
요리사 (chef) 교실 (classroom) 표면 (surface)
ㅠ yu (as in you, university)
유창하다 (to be fluent) 규칙 (rule) 휴일 (holiday)
ㅖ ye (as in yesterday, yeah)
계속하다 (to be continue) 무례하다 (to be rude) 예술 (art)
ㅘ wa (as in waffle, quiet, wine)
와인 (wine) 과수원 (orchard) 과일 (fruit)
ㅝ wo (as in world, warrant, worm)
샤워하다 (to shower) 워싱턴 (Washington) 미워하다 (to hate)
ㅙ wae (as in whack, whale)
돼지 (pig) 왜 (why) 쾌활하다 (to be cheerful)
ㅞ whe (as in weather, wait, west)
웨이터 (waiter) 훼방 (to slander; to disturb) 퀘스트(quest)

How to write vowels properly?


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