에 (Place or time)

에 is a location particle, but it is not only used to mark locations. It means “at”, “to” and etc, and it can be used to mark a location, a time, a situation, and many other things.
Again, it is hard to translate these particles into English, but, “에” plays the role of the underlined words in the following sentences:

1) I went at 3pm
2) I went to the park

Sentences with a place/time can also have an object in them.

For example:

3) I ate hamburgers at 3pm

If I were to write those same sentence using Korean structure and particles, they would look like this:

1) I는 3pm에 went

2) I는 park에 went

3) I는 hamburgers을 3pm에 ate
In these cases, “at 3pm” or “to the park” act as adverbs (a word that tells you when, where, how, how much). There is no set place for an adverb within a sentence, and it can generally be placed anywhere (except the end).

Location Particle ~에서

Learners of Korean are often very confused as to when they should use ~에서 instead of ~에, as they both denote places in Korean sentences. ~에서 is used to denote the location in which the subject is doing something in.

For example:

저는 학교에서 공부할 거예요 = I will study at school
저는 저의 친구를 병원에서 봤어요 = I saw my friend at the hospital
저는 남편을 공원에서 만날 거예요 = I will meet my husband at the park
저는 한국어를 한국에서 배웠어요 = I learned Korean in Korea

In order to help you understand the purpose of ~에서, I would like to make a distinction between ~에 and ~에서. As I said, ~에서 is used to indicate the location in which the subject is doing something.

This does not mean the location that he/she is going to
This does not mean the location that he/she looking at
This does not mean the location that he/she places something on
This does not mean the location that he/she places something in

All of the locations from those examples above would require the particle “~에” to denote the location.

~에서, on the other hand refers the location in which the subject – the acting agent of the sentence – is in when actually doing the action.

Let’s look at the following example:

저는 건물에 간판을 봤어요

In this sentence, where is the subject (저) when doing the action (보다)? ~에서 is not used in this sentence, so it is unknown as to where the subject was when he/she saw the sign. It might be known from context, but this specific sentence is not describing it. Therefore, the person is saying that he/she saw the sign “on the building” – as if he/she was walking by and saw the sign attached to the building in some way. The action did not occur at/on/in the building, it’s just that the location in which he/she was looking at.

Conversely, look at this sentence:
저는 건물에서 간판을 봤어요

In this sentence, where is the subject (저) when doing this action (보다)? ~에서 is attached to “건물.” Therefore, the subject was in the building and saw the sign.

Another example:

저는 병을 탁자에 놓았어요

In this sentence, where is the subject (저) when doing the action (놓다)? ~에서 is not used in this sentence, so it is unknown as to where the subject was when he/she put the bottle on the table. It might be known from context, but this specific sentence is not describing it. Therefore, the person is saying that he/she put the bottle “on the table.”

Conversely, look at this sentence:
저는 병을 탁자에서 놓았어요

This sentence is nonsense. It is indicating that, the action actually occurred on/in the table. That is, the subject somehow within the table placed the bottle somewhere. But the sentence is so nonsensical that it is not even indicating where the bottle is placed. It could translate to something like “(While I was) in the table, I placed the bottle.” Don’t get too hung up on that translation because it’s hard to translate a sentence that doesn’t make sense.

However, because ~에서 can be used to indicate where the subject is acting, and because ~에 can be used to in this sentence to indicate where the bottle is placed, both ~에 and ~에서 can be used in the same sentence.

For example:

저는 방에서 탁자에 병을 놓았어요 = I placed the bottle on the table in the room

This is the same reason that the particle ~에 is placed on the location in which a person is going.

For example, if I said something like this:

저는 한국에서 갈 거예요
(This sentence is correct, but it is stating that the person left from Korea because the action of “going” (가다) is occurring at/in Korea). This function is talked about a little bit later.

Instead, in order to indicate the place in which you are going (and, therefore, not currently in/at), you must use ~에.

For example:

저는 한국에 갈 거예요 = I will go to Korea


~에서 can also be attached to a location where an adjective “occurs.” The word “occurs” is a bad way to describe this (because adjectives don’t really “occur”, but I can’t think of a better word. Just like how a verb can be used with a subject…:

저는 잤어요 = I slept

…and a location can be used in this sentence to indicate where that action occurred:

저는 집에서 잤어요 = I slept at home

In that same sense, adjectives can be used with a subject…:

과일은 비싸요 = Fruit is expensive

… and a location can be used in this sentence to indicate where that adjective “occurs”:

과일은 한국에서 비싸요 = Fruit is expensive in Korea

Here are some other examples:

저는 학교에서 추웠어요 = I was cold at school
고등학교는 한국에서 어려워요 = High school is difficult in Korea
녹차는 한국에서 유명해요 = Green Tea is famous in Korea

For now, try to understand this specific function of ~에서 and how it can be used to indicate where a verb or adjective “occurs.”

Also note that when you indicate where something is by using 있다, you should use ~에 instead of ~에서.

For example:

저는 집에 있어요 = I’m at home
저는 차 안에 있어요 = I’m in the car


The other main usage of ~에서 has the general meaning of “from.” In it’s most basic sense, it can be used to indicate the place in which the subject is departing from.

For example:

저는 한국에서 갈 거예요 = I will go from Korea
다음 버스는 저 정류장에서 출발할 거예요 = The next bus will depart from that station

This same usage can be applied to more complicated scenarios that are similar to “departing.”

For example:

When you are getting off of something (bus/train):
저는 서울역에서 내릴 거예요 = I will get off at (from) Seoul station

When something/someone is coming/going/being taken out of something:
학생은 교실에서 나왔어요 = the student came out of the classroom

You can also use this to indicate the country (or any other place, for that matter) that you come from. In English, we say “I come from Canada/I’m from Canada” but in Korean the past tense of “come” must be used:

저는 캐나다에서 왔어요 = I come from Canada

It is also important to know that when ~에서 is added to the words 여기/거기/저기 (here, there, there), it is common to write/say:

여기서 instead of 여기에서
거기서 instead of 거기에서
저기서 instead of 저기에서

In addition to the examples provided, there are more ways in which 에서 can be used to mean “from,” but the grammar/words that would be used in those sentences are too complex for you right now. You won’t understand these examples completely, but try to understand the role of 에서 within these sentences:

저는 학교에서 멀리 살고 있어요 = I live far from school
1에서 10까지 센다 = Count from 1 to 10
그들은 많은 후보자들 중에서 저를 뽑았어요 = They chose me from many candidates
1시에서 2시까지 오세요 = Please come from 1:00 to 2:00
10에서 5를 뺀다 = Subtract 5 from 10

As you can see, ‘from’ (in English) has many usages as well. When a word has a lot of meanings in Korean – and the corresponding English word also has a lot of meanings – it is usually very difficult to understand the usage completely.

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