In this Korean lesson, you will learn how to use the particle 만 [man] which means ‘only’ or ‘just’ in Korean. When using 만 in a sentence, you simply attach it at the end of a noun to indicate that that noun is the only thing being chosen or stated. Even though 만 is just a simple word, there are some rules to follow to use 만 correctly. Let’s look at some examples.
Only / Just In Korean – 만
- 오늘 회사에 도현 씨만 왔어요. = Today, only Dohyun came to the office.
- 2분만 기다려 주세요. = Please wait for just 2 minutes.
- 이 도서관은 월요일만 쉬어요. = This library is only closed on Mondays.
- 오백 원만 빌려 주세요. = Please lend me just 500 won.
As you can see from the example sentences above, 만 can be used to express ‘only’ or ‘just’ in a sentence. In sentences 1 and 3, 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 that 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)
Let’s review the key points from this lesson.
- 만 means ‘only’ or ‘just’ in Korean.
- 만 is placed after nouns to show that that noun is the only thing being stated or chosen.
- 만 can be used with 이/가, 은/는, and 을/를 but usually, these particles are dropped when using 만.
- When 만 is used with 이/가, 은/는, or 을/를, 만 is placed between the noun and the particle.
- With particles other than 이/가, 은/는, and 을/를, 만 comes after the particle.