Next is a Korean grammar particle, -에, that is often confused with another, -에서. This is due to one of its many using being, marking the location when you use a select few verbs. However, you can also use the little particle -에 for designating the time and even for the indirect object when it is a plant or inanimate object. Let’s take a look.
The first major use of -에 we are going to discuss, is its uses to designate the location. This uses oftentimes confuses people as the use is highly similar to -에서. While they might seem confusing, their uses have a clear distinction. -에 can only be used to mark a location in only 2 situations:
- To mark the destination/direction of a movement when using verbs of movement.
- To mark the location of something when using the verbs 있다 or 없다.
In the first situation, you can translate -에 to English as ‘to’. Keep in mind you can only use it with a verb of movement. A verb of movement are verbs like: 가다 (to go), 오다 (to come), 돌아가다 (to return), 다니다 (to attend, to commute), 도착하다 (to arrive) and 내려가다 (to go down). However, the particle -(으)로 can also fulfill this function, though there is a slight difference in nuance. Let’s look at an example:
Example: 동생이 대학교에 다녀요.
Translation: My younger sibling attends college.
In the second situation, you can translate -에 to English as ‘in’ or ‘on’. As mentioned you can only use it then with either 있다 (to be, to exist) or 없다 (to not be, to not exist). Let’s look at an example:
Example: 책이 책상 위에 있어요.
Translation: The book is on the desk.
Beyond those two situations, you cannot use -에. You will have to use the other location particle, -에서, in all other instances. Make sure you keep that difference in mind.
Another, less confusing use of the particle -에 is to mark the time in a sentence. You add it to everything that expresses the time frame o whatever you are talking about. When you use the particle for this you can translate it to English as ‘at’ or ‘on’. However certain words that always indicated the moment when something happens do not ever take this particle. Let’s take a look at an example:
Example: 토요일에 한국에 도착해요.
Translation: I arrive in Korea on Saturday.
Some of the nouns that never use the particle are: 그체 (the day before yesterday), 어제 (yesterday), 오늘 (today), 내일 (tomorrow), 모레 (the day after tomorrow) and 언제 (when) among many more.
Indirect Object -에
A less frequent use of -에, is to mark the indirect object in a sentence. It’s use is thus the same as 한테 and 에게. However, you can only use -에 to mark the indirect object when it is either a plant of an inanimate object. Anything else would be marked by either 한테 or 에게. Let’s take a look at an example:
Example: 매일 꽃에 물을 조금 줘요.
Translation: I give the flowers water everyday.
How To Use
Using the particle -에 isn’t that hard. You simply need to attach it to the noun that needs it. You needn’t worry over vowels and consonants with this particle.
The particle -에 is rather a unique grammar particle as it is one that can appear more than once in the same sentence. As you know this particle both designates location, time and indirect object. Because of those multiple uses that can all appear in the same sentence you can end up using it more than once. Let’s look at an example:
Example: 아홉 시에 학교에 가요.
Translation: I go to school at 9 O’clock.
While you can use it more than once due to multiple uses, you cannot use it more than once for the same use. This is particularly important to know when marking time. When the time part exists out of multiple words, you place it at the end of the entire time expression. Let’s look at an example:
Example: 다음 주 월요일 10시 20분에 만날까요?
Translation: Shall we meet next week Monday at 10:20?