Morning Lands’ Review: Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning

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Books. Since ancient times books are the quintessential tools of a student. Even in this digital age, the ease of use of books to study is without equal. When learning Korean, books are without a doubt your first partners. However, which books to use? Today, we are going to make our first recommendation. If you have the budget and want a terrific Korean grammar textbook as a beginner, then we recommend: Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning, published by Darakwon. Let us tell you why.

Korean Grammar In Use Series

Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning is the first in a series of three books. The series is called Korean Grammar In Use and it covers Korean grammar topics from the most basic all to the most advanced topics you might need to pass the TOPIK exam over three books. The books are divided into the following parts: Beginning, which covers beginner to early intermediate Korean grammar; Intermediate, which covers intermediate Korean grammar and advanced, which covers advanced Korean grammar.

You needn’t buy all three books since each book more or less covers all the grammar you need to know at certain points. If you just beginning to learn Korean the book Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning will be more than enough for months. So we recommend buying these books one at a time as the need arises. However, why should you consider buying these books? Let’s discuss Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning.

The Good

Examples And Exercises

Korean Grammar In Use - Beginning: Page Example 1
An example page of a grammar topic explanation from Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning.

A good textbook comes with plenty of examples and plenty of exercises. The book Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning comes with both. Each Korean grammar form is accompanied by three initial example sentences in which the discussed grammar form is highlighted. After the short explanation even more example dialogues are given, typically 3 two-sentence dialogues. All of these examples are accompanied by translations.

Korean Grammar In Use - Beginning: Page Example 2
An example page of a grammar topic explanation from Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning

At the end of the explanation part, the book offers 1 page of exercises. The amount of exercises also depends on the relative difficulty of the focussed on grammar topic. Simple and easy topics often only offer one exercise, whereas the more complex forms offer two exercises. Nonetheless, the exercises are a good way to practice the newly learned forms. However, the exercises in the book are probably not enough to actually master the form. You will have to practice on your own still.

Easy To Use Structure

If you ask us what the most important aspect of a good grammar textbook is, we would say the structure of a book. Grammar textbooks are not your ordinary language textbooks which tend to be structured in themes. Grammar textbooks need to be structured in a sensible manner with respect to the grammar itself.

Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning, and the rest of the Korean Grammar in Use series, succeeds in providing a wonderfully easy to navigate book structure. All individual Korean grammar forms are grouped together in categories based on the function they serve in the language. This ensures you can search for forms based on your needs. The structuring of the book is so great that we have based our Korean Language Bank structuring on the structure used in this book series. Of course, this great book structure has as a consequence that the table of contents is more of a tool than most tables of contents often end up being.

Korean Grammar In Use - Beginning: Table Of Contents Page
A page of the table of contents from Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning


While many grammar textbooks do not offer any or very limited audio material, Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning does the opposite. The book is sold with a CD which lets you listen to all the examples within the book spoken by native speakers. This will thus also help you perfect your Korean pronunciation and your Korean listening skills if you so choose.

If you are unable to use the CD for any reason, you can also download the files from the Darakwon website. However, this can be quite a hassle as the website is rather ancient. To be able to download it, you will have to download Internet Explorer and you will have to use it in compatibility mode with a very ancient version of IE. It is rather annoying, but if you do it, you can download the MP3-files.

The Bad


When it comes to learning Korean grammar Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning has maybe no equal, but this book is not the perfect Korean language textbook. You cannot use it as your only study material. It comes with one major disadvantage for that. It lacks any vocabulary list whatsoever. The book assumes that the reader of the book has already learned basic Korean and has already learned a sizeable amount of words. As such it did not bother with creating vocabulary lists. While the book does not use any real complex vocabulary, certain times the words it does use are not the words a real beginner learns. Expect to have to use a dictionary like Naver’s 네이버 사전 from time to time because of the lack of any vocabulary lists.

Sometimes Lack Of Depth

While Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning generally always offer enough explanations for each Korean grammar topic it discusses, in certain cases the explanation offered is not enough. Certain Korean grammar forms like -(으)ㅂ시다 or -(으)니까, are far more nuanced and have certain aspects the book does not cover or even mention. This might be done by the authors out of consideration towards beginners. However, we feel for these forms the authors should’ve been more thorough.

The Conclusion

We could go on and on about Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning, but our conclusion will always be the same. This is a great Korean grammar textbook for any beginner who feels they need a Korean grammar textbook. The book comes with a terrific structure, plenty of examples and exercises and audio version of all the examples on MP3-file. While the book has its minor shortcomings, we can only strongly recommend anyone considering to buy Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning, to just buy it. Polar Bear has used this book himself when he started out learning Korean and he praises it to this day.

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March 9, 2019

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