What’s the Problem?

We have a slight problem with one of our rules for writing syllables. What if we want to write the Korean word for afternoon, which is “ohu”? If we split it into syllables, o-hu, we see that the first syllable begins with a vowel, and that violates rule 1, which says that all syllables begin with a consonant.

To solve this problem, Korean uses this letter: . When it starts a syllable, it is a silent placeholder consonant.

This lets us write o-hu as: 오후. The first syllable now begins with a consonant that doesn’t get pronounced.

Here are some other Korean words that use the placeholder:

, meaning inside and pronounced an (that’s the ah sound for the vowel, remember?)

, meaning “right” (as in right-hand) and pronounced u (that’s the u sound in June).

우아, meaning “grace, suavity,” and , meaning “peace” or “well-being.”

Now...it’s your turn to practice!

(You may wish to see a review sheet first.)

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