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30-Day Challenge

30-Day Challenge: Day #15 – Proper spacing (띄어쓰기) in Korean can Save a person’s life!


I’m sure you’ve probably seen this image floating around the Internet before:


In English, correct punctuation can save a person’s life. Well, this is very similar in Korean as well. Proper spacing (띄어쓰기) in Korean can also save a person’s life.

Consider the following image:

correct spacing saves lives

Now granted, that example is a bit extreme, but you get the point. Knowing the proper spacing (띄어쓰기) in Korean writing is essential!

Today’s Challenge is all about learning proper spacing (띄어쓰기) in Korean writing. Talk To Me in Korean has put together a great lesson on the subject, so you should check out their site for the downloadable lesson PDF for practice. But since their podcast is embeddable, here is their discussion on spacing for your Inspiration:

Why learn proper word spacing?

Consider these rather silly examples from (there are wonderful animations and images to go along with these on their website):

My father
The tree
  • 오늘밤 (space) 나무 (space) 사왔어. = I bought a tree tonight.
  • 오늘밤 (space) 나 (space) 무 (space) 사왔어. = I bought some radish (mu) tonight.
  • 오늘 (space) 밤나무 (space) 사왔어. = I bought a chestnut tree today.

(Be sure to check out their site for the accompanying images and explanations.)

The picnic (from this video)
  • 아기 (space) 다리 (space) 고기 (space) 다리 (space) 던소풍. = Baby legs, meat legs, dawn picnic.
  • 아~! (space) 기다리고 (space) 기다리던 (space) 소풍. = Ah~! I’ve been waiting and waiting for a picnic.

General Word Spacing Guidelines

The following are some general word spacing guidelines I’ve picked up through my own study, reading, and writing of Korean.

1. Spaces go between independent words

This includes spaces between:

  1. Nouns + verbs: 도서관 (space) 가다 = go to the library
  2. Nouns + nouns: 영어 (space) 도서관 = English library
  3. Adjectives + nouns: 예쁜 (space) 여자 = beautiful girl
  4. Always before nouns**
  5. Verbs + verbs: 사러 (space) 가다 = go to buy
  6. Adverbs + verbs: 조용히 (space) 가다 = go quietly
  7. Time words: 9시 (space) 30분 OR 이미 (space), 가끔 (space), etc.
  8. Name + 씨: 에런 (space) 

However, there are no spaces in the middle of proper names (한국관광공사 – Korean Tourism Organization, 국은영 – Kuk Eun-Young).

2. Particles are included as part of the preceding word

So spaces should never come before particles (only after). For example:

  1. 이/가, 은/는, 을/를 particles = (오늘은) (아버지) (신문) 읽어요.
  2. 와/과, (이)랑, 하고 and particles = (수박과) (딸기) OR (가방이랑) (모자) OR (햄버거하고) (콜라)
  3. 의, 에, 에서 particles = (나의) 집, (한국에) 왔어요, (극장에서) (영화를) 봤어요.
  4. Etc, etc. The same is true for all 20 particle types listed in Korean Grammar in Use: Beginner (chapter 3). For more information and examples of spacing, pick up that book.
3. Sometimes spaces are unnecessary

Unnecessary spacing includes:

  1. When a “하다 noun” is used without the 을/를 particle. For example, 공부를 (space) 하다 = 공부하다
    (One notable exception – from the TTMIK audio – is when the “하다 noun” is a foreign word like 데이트 (space) 하다.)
  2. Some cases when two nouns have formed “fixed expressions.” For example, 미 (space) 인 = (beautiful) + (person) = 미인 (Also, 여자 (space) 친구 = 여자친구, etc.)

There may be other guidelines for spacing that I’ve not gone over here, but these should be enough to get you started with proper Korean spacing (띄어쓰기).


  1. Use the information above to help you learn proper Korean word spacing.
  2. Then, download the second resource I uploaded today for proper Korean essay writing using Wongoji paper.
  3. Finally, download our Wongoji paper and complete today’s Challenge.

#15: Choose a level-appropriate TOPIK prompt (below) and write an essay using the spacing guidelines and Wongoji guidelines above. (Or write simple phrases you know with proper spacing.)

Here are TOPIK prompts to get you started with writing:

  1. 초급 TOPIK prompts
  2. 중급 TOPIK prompts
  3. 고급 TOPIK prompts

Hashtags today are:

#k2k3015 #wordspacingWiz


Once again, here are all the resources previously linked to in this post:

On proper word spacing:
  1. Talk To Me in Korean: 띄어쓰기 Lesson
  2. Korean Class 101: The importance of 띄어쓰기
  3. Additional 띄어쓰기 video with different phrase pronunciations
Wongoji paper:
  1. Download blank Wongoji essay papers
  2. Download Wongoji usage guidelines
TOPIK writing prompts:
  1. 초급 TOPIK prompts
  2. 중급 TOPIK prompts
  3. 고급 TOPIK prompts

Do you feel more confident using 띄어쓰기 (spacing) in Korean now? Any more hints?

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