-와/과, -(이)랑 and -하고 are three interchangeable particles that serve the same function. This doesn’t mean there is no difference, though. But when it comes to their meaning, they are essentially the same. This group of three particles serve two functions. Either you can use them to list a number of things or you can use them to indicate with whom or what (prepositional object) you are performing an action together.
The first function of the particles -와/과, -(이)랑 and -하고 is to form a list of two or more persons or objects in a sentence. So essentially you use these particles to create a list. Sometimes the connective adverb 그리고 is used with these particles. It happens, especially, in long lists for the sake of clarity.
가: 아침에 과일을 먹나요?
나: 아침마다 저는 사과랑 포도를 먹어요.
A: Do you eat fruit in the morning?
B: I eat an apple and grapes every morning.
Another use for the particles -와/과, -(이)랑 and -하고 is to express with what or whom you are performing an action. In this case, it marks the prepositional object. It means ‘(together) with’. To further help distinguish between its two usages to create lists and marking a prepositional object, it will often be accompanied by words such as 같이 (together) or 함께 (together) when marking a prepositional object in the sentence.
가: 이 영화를 이미 봤어요?
나: 네, 지난 주에 민수 씨와 같이 봤어요.
A: Have you seen this movie already?
B: Yes, I’ve seen it together with Minsu last week.
How To Use
As mentioned before about the particles -와/과, -(이)랑 and -하고, they all share the same meaning and the same functionality. Keep in mind, though, that these are particles used with nouns. They are not used with verbs or adjectives. If you want to list actions, states, or facts with those, you will need to use the form -고.
Even though they have the same meaning and function, there are few differences between them we need to cover.
First, we’ll cover -와/과. To be brief, this one is considered more formal. Therefore, you will generally see or hear it during speeches, presentations, written texts, etc.
You need to use the form -와 when a noun ends in a vowel (no batchim) and you will use -과 when the noun ends in a consonant (batchim). Keep this in mind.
Secondly, there is the form -(이)랑. This is a less formal particle and is therefore used in everyday language.
You need to use the form -랑 when a noun ends in a vowel (no batchim) and you will use -이랑 when the noun ends in a consonant (batchim). Keep this in mind.
Lastly, there is the form -하고. This is the easiest form of the three and like -(이)랑, it is a less formal particle and therefore used in everyday language.
Regardless of the final letter of the noun, you simply attach -하고 to it.