Korean Lesson – Hangeul 7: W-Vowels

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In the previous lesson, we looked at how we can form vowels with a ‘y’ sound at the beginning by adding a second dash to the basic vowel character.

These kinds of vowels are called gliding vowels. There are some more gliding vowels that we can make in Korean, and these are gliding vowel sounds that start with a ‘w’ sound, like ‘wa’ or ‘wei’.

The characters for these gliding vowels are a bit more complicated than the characters for the y-vowels. For these gliding vowels, we have to write two of the basic vowels together.

The w-vowels are formed by placing one of ㅗ o, ㅜ u, or ㅡ eu before one of the other basic vowels. For example

this is just ㅗ and ㅏ written together, and has the sound ‘wa’

The w-vowels are

Vowel Character Made up of Pronounced like
ㅗ and ㅏ ‘wa’
ㅜ and ㅓ ‘wo’
ㅗ and ㅣ ‘wey’
ㅜ and ㅣ ‘wi’
ㅡ and ㅣ ‘ui’
ㅗ and ㅐ ‘weh’
ㅗ and ㅔ ‘wei’

Several of these vowels are pronounced very similarly. ㅚ, ㅙ, and ㅞ are all pronounced similar to ‘wey’. For the most part, you can pronounce these three vowels in the same way, and you will be understood by native speakers.

As before, in order to write these vowels as syllables, we need to use ㅇ as the initial consonant (which just represents no sound when used as an initial).

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