Lesson 9: 에서

Korean Course Lesson

In a previous lesson, you learned how to use the location marking particle 에 [ae] to mark a noun as the location where something exists or doesn’t exist, the place where you are going to, or the time at which something takes place. In this lesson, you will learn the particle 에서 [ae-seo] which can be used to mark a noun as the location where an action is taking place.

Lesson 9: 에서

Usage 1:

The particle 에서 [ae-seo] is attached to nouns to mark that noun as the place where something takes place. To help you understand what we mean, let’s look at an example.

학교에서 공부해요. [hak-gyo-e-seo gong-bu-hae-yo] = I study at school.
공원에서 운동했어요. [gong-won e-seo un-dong-hae-sseo-yo] = I exercised at the park.

As you can see, in the first sentence, the word for school (학교) is followed by 에서 to mark the noun ‘school’ as the location where the speaker studies. And in the second sentence, the word for ‘park’ (공원) is followed by 에서 to mark the noun ‘park’ as the location where the speaker exercised.

에 vs 에서

에 expresses a location where something exists, a destination, or a time at which something happens, whereas 에서 expresses a location at which an action takes place. Consider the following sentences:

집에 있어요. [jib-ae i-sseo-yo] = I am at home.
집에서 공부해요 [jib-ae-seo gong-bu-hae-yo] = I am studying at home.

The first sentence expresses that the speaker ‘is’ at home. That is, the place where they are ‘existing’ right now is at home. The second sentence expresses that the place where the speaker is studying is at home. In English, both sentences use the preposition ‘at‘, but in Korean 에 is used in the first sentence, and 에서 is used in the second sentence.

Tip: If you have difficulty remembering whether to use 에 or 에서, just consider if the sentence you are trying to make has an action verb. If it does, then you will need to use 에서 to mark the place where that action takes place.

Usage 2:

The particle 에서 is also used to express ‘from a place’. For example, a common question you would get asked as a foreigner in Korea is “Where are you from?“. You can answer in the following way:

어디에서 왔어요? [eo-di-e-seo wa-sseo-yo?] = Where are you from? (Lit. Where did you come from?)
영국에서 왔어요. [yeong-gu-ge-seo wa-sseo-yo] = I came from England.

As you can see, the country 영국 (England) is marked with 에서 and this is followed by the past tense of the verb ‘to come’. So, in this example, 에서 marks 영국 (England) as the country where the speaker came from.