Korean particles often appear to be quick and easy Korean grammar topics to learn. Looks, however, deceive and -의 is certainly deceptively tricky. However, the basics are not that hard really.
The particle -의 is the Korean possessive. It thus creates a possessive relation between two nouns, where the noun with the particle possesses the noun next to it. Simple, right? However, when to use the particle is difficult to explain. You see in spoken language, and even in writing, the particle is often simply omitted. It is only used when the possessive relation isn’t clear from context. You will have to get used to it.
However, there is another hurdle you will need to overcome with the particle -의. Even though the particle is written as -의, it isn’t how it is pronounced always. This particle is either pronounced as [의] or [에] with the latter having the preference among Korean speakers. So during conversations, you need to be careful not to mix -의 up with the particle -에.
가: 아… 민수의 씨의 우산이 여기에 아직 있어요.
나: 잊어버린 것 같네요.
A: Ah… Minsu’s umbrella is still here.
B: He must have forgotten it.
How To Use
The particle -의, like most Korean particles, is rather easy to use. Like many, this particle also follows the ‘no rule’ Korean grammar rule which means you don’t have to care about consonants or vowels. you simply attach it to the noun and you are done. However, there is one type of word you need to keep an eye out with -의.
The Korean personal pronouns 저 (I), 나 (I), 저희 (we), 우리 (we) and 너 (you) typically aren’t combined with the particle -의. It is, however, not omitted, rather those words combine with it resulting in new forms. These possessive personal pronouns are respectively: 제 (my), 내 (my), 저희 (our), 우리 (our) and 네 (your). The forms 제, 내 and 네 are identical to the forms these pronouns get when you use them with -이/가. Contexts will make clear their meaning if -이/가 happens to have been omitted.