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120 TOPIK #27 – TOPIK Writing Spacing Rules Revisited (띄어쓰기)


Just as there is spacing in English, Korean also has spacing to help separate words and read things faster. And just as there are spacing rules in English (mostly just separating words with a single space), there are also spacing rules in Korean (which are slightly more complicated). I’ve previously written on proper Korean 띄어쓰기 here, but the below are some additional guidelines:

Spacing Rules

  1. 조사 (Particles)
    1. ~이/가, ~을/를, ~마저, ~밖에 and particles of this type should be stuck to the words preceding them (no space).  Exception 밖에 seen below:
      1. 놀이터가 밖에 있어요. (When 밖 is used as a noun (“outside”) and 에 is the 조사 particle, there is a space before 밖에).
      2. 젓가락을 하나밖에 없어요. (When using negative expressions with 밖에 as the particle, there is no space before 밖에).
  2. 의존명사 (Dependent Nouns)
    1. ~는 것, ~(으)ㄹ 수 있다, ~(으)ㄹ 만큼, ~(ㅇ)ㄴ 지 and other dependent nouns like this require spacing. Exception ~(으)ㄴ지 seen below:
      1. 얼마나 부지런한지 세 사람 몫의 일을 해낸다. (With connective endings that are rhetorical type statements, there is NO space).
      2. 한국에 온 지 1년이 되었다. (With dependent nouns specifically related to ‘length of time’ there IS a space).
  3. 단위를 나타내는 명사 (Nouns indicating units)
    1. 한 개, 한 마리, 개, 마리, 명, 권, 개월, 시간 and other measuring or counting words require NO space between the number and the unit of measurement:
      1. 첫째, 둘째, 셋째, …, 5층, 4학년, 10개, 100원
  4. 보조 용언 (Auxiliary predicates)
    1. 보조 용언은 문장에서 서술어의 기능을 하는 동사자 형용사를 말합니다. = Spacing is necessary between the auxiliary predicates and verbs or adjectives they are connected with. Examples below:
      1. 돕다 + 드리다(보조 용언) –> 도와 드리다
      2. 먹다 + 버리다(보조 용언) –> 먹어 버리다
    2. 보조 용언은 띄어 쓰는 것이 원칙이지만, 경우에 따라서 붙여 쓰는 것도 허용합니다. = Although the above rule is the general principle, there are some cases in which sticking the two together (no spacing) is allowed as well. Examples below:
      1. 어머니를 도와 드리다. == 어머니를 도와드리다.
      2. 우유를 마셔 버렸다. == 우유를 마셔버렸다.
  5. 성과 이름은 붙여 쓰고, 관직명은 띄어 써야 합니다. (First and last names are stuck together, titles and names are separated by spaces).
    1. 김민지 and similar names should follow this rule but names like 남궁억 can be spaced because BOTH 남 and 남궁 are family names, so you need to clearly show whether or not the family name has ONE or TWO characters – as so: 남궁 억 / 남 궁억
    2. With titles (관직명): 김 박사, 김철수 장군


Familiarize yourself with these (and the previous list of) spacing rules. Be sure you understand and PRACTICE where to put spaces in your writing. Remember that “Proper Spacing in Korean Saves Lives!”

Over to you:

What do you think about the Korean spacing rules? Relatively easy to understand if you’re familiar with English spacing rules, right? How’s your TOPIK Writing practice going? Let me know in the Comments below or on social media with #120TOPIK.

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