An important particle any beginner should learn is the particle -(으)로. This particle has two very important functions in Korean grammar. The first way you use the particle is to express the direction in which you go. The second way you use the particle is to express the means with which you perform a certain action. Both are very important things to know.
The first use of the particle -(으)로 we will discuss is expressing direction. It is very simple. When you want to express a direction in which you or someone else goes, you attach the particle to the noun expressing that direction. Notice the word direction. The particle -(으)로 does not express the destination in any way. It merely expresses the direction of the movement.
The particle -에 expresses the destination of your movement, whereas the particle -(으)로 expresses the direction and not the destination. Therefore, you cannot use them interchangeably as they express two different things. An example:
- 오른쪽에 가요 (incorrect, 오른쪽 is the direction in which we go, not the destination).
- 오른쪽으로 가요 (correct).
가: 차나 커피를 마실까요?
나: 커피를 주세요.
A: Do you want to drink tea or coffee?
B: Coffee, please.
The other important use of the particle -(으)로 is to express the means with which you perform an action. This can be tools, vehicles, materials and many other things you use to do something. In terms of grammar you might be familiar with, the particle -(으)로 designates the adverbial clause of manner, answering the question ‘how’.
Various Korean verbs represent not only movement but also the means of transportation, such verbs are 걸다 (To walk), 운전하다 (to drive), 수영하다 (to swim). When you want to use these verbs to express the means of transportation, you can use the form -아/어서. There is a difference in meaning between the two methods though.
집에 차로 갔어요 (I went by car). In this sentence, I went by car, either as a passenger or driver.
집에 운전해서 갔어요 (I drove home). In this sentence, as the translation suggests, I was the driver.
가: 부산에 기차로 가요?
나: 저는 급해서 비행기로 가기로 했어요.
A: Are you go by train to Busan?
B: I’m in a hurry, so I’ve decided to go by plane.
How To Use
Using the particle -(으)로 is not overly complicated. It follows the basic Korean grammar rule ‘batchim/no batchim’, but with a twist. When a word ends in a consonant other than ㄹ, you use the form -으로. On the other hand, if the noun ends in a vowel or a ㄹ, you use the form -로. Those two sentences are everything you need to know on how to attach the particle -(으)로 to any word.