Korean Lesson - 만 Only

Lesson 29: 만

In this lesson, you will learn how to use the particle 만, which means ‘only’ or ‘just’ in Korean. By the end of the lesson, you will be able to say things like “I study on Saturdays only, “Please wait just five minutes“, etc.

Lesson 29: 만

만 is used to express ‘only’ or ‘just’. Let’s look at some examples.

  1. 오늘 회사에 도현 씨만 왔어요. = Today, only Dohyun came to the office.
  2. 2분만 기다려 주세요. = Please wait for just 2 minutes.
  3. 이 도서관은 월요일만 쉬어요. = This library is closed on Mondays only.
  4. 오백 원만 빌려 주세요. = Please lend me just 500 won

In sentences 1 and 3 above, attaching 만 to the noun (도현 씨 / 월요일) indicates that that noun is the only thing being stated and that other things are excluded (i.e. only Dohyun and nobody else, only Monday, not other days.)

In sentences 2 and 4, the speaker is asking for something, and adding 만 makes the sentence sound softer and more polite. This is because 만 emphasizes that there is a minimal burden to the other person (i.e. just 2 minutes, not 5 minutes or 10 minutes, just 2 minutes).

Using 만 With Subject/Object/Topic Particles

만 can be used together with the subject particles 이/가, the topic particles 은/는, and the object particles 을/를. When used together with these particles, 만 is placed between the noun and 이/가, 은/는, or 을/를. Alternatively, 만 can be placed after the noun without using 이/가, 은/는, or 을/를. In fact, 이/가, 은/는, 을/를 are usually omitted when using 만. Let’s look at an example.

동생은 고기만을 먹어요. (O) = My younger brother/sister only eats meat.
동생은 고기만 먹어요. (O) = My younger brother/sister only eats meat.

As you can see, in the first sentence 만 is added between the noun (고기) and the object particle (을) and in the second sentence, 만 is placed after the noun without the object particle. Both sentences are correct.

Using 만 With Other Particles Particles

When using 만 in a sentence with particles other than 이/가, 은/는, and 을/를, 만 is placed after the particle. Let’s look at some examples.

동생은 학교에서만 공부해요. (O) = My younger brother/sister studies only at school.
동생은 학교만에서 공부해요. (X)

도현 씨는 10시까지만 공부해요. (O) = Dohyun studies only until 10 o’clock.
도현 씨는 10시만까지 공부해요. (X)

Example Sentences

학생들이 교실에 다 왔어요? = Did all students come to the classroom?
아니요. 애니 씨하고 마이클 씨만 왔어요. = No. Only Annie and Michael came.

마트에서 뭐 살 거예요? = What are you going to buy at the supermarket?
과일만 살 거예요. = I’m going to buy fruits only.

어제 친구들을 많이 만났어요? = Did you meet many friends yesterday?
아니요, 민호 씨만 만났어요. 다른 친구들은 못 만났어요. = No, I met Minho only. I couldn’t meet other friends.

준비됐어요? = Are you ready?
미안해요. 10분만 기다려 주세요. = Sorry. Please wait for just 10 minutes.