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Korean vowels

Korean Vowels

How to Pronounce Korean Vowels

The table below shows the vowels in the Korean writing system.  Readers who landed on this page through a search engine are recommended to start with our main article on the Korean writing system, which explains how to assemble the characters into syllable clusters.

Many of the sounds represented by the vowel letters in the Korean alphabet actually begin with the /w/ or /y/ sounds, which are classified by Western phoneticists as semi-vowels or semi-consonants. For example, in European languages, the sound of “wa” is thought to have two elements, the /w/ sound and the /a/ sound. Korean phoneticists, however, treat the /wa/ sound as a single vowel as far as the letter denotation is concerned, and the same is true for /ya/, /we/, etc.



CharacterSoundClick
for
Examples
ahSimilar to the sound represented by “a” in the English word “father”Examples
yahSimilar to the first part of the English word “yahoo”, before the /h/ soundExamples
uhUnlike any English vowel.  The closest one is possibly the vowel sound in the English word “bird” (without the /r/ sound) or the sound represented by “u” in the English word “but”.Examples
yuhSimilar to the first part of the English word “young”, before the /ng/ soundExamples
ohSimilar to the vowel sound of the English word “all”, before the /l/ soundExamples
yoSimilar to the first part of the English word “yogurt”, before the /g/ soundExamples
ooSimilar to the vowel sound of the English word “ooze”, before the /z/ soundExamples
yooThe sound is exactly like the English word “you”.Examples
euUnlike any English vowel.  To produce this sound: (i) Say "ah";  (ii) with your lips relaxed and with your tongue resting on the floor of the mouth, slowly close your jaws until the upper and lower lips are about to touch (but not actually touching);   (iii) you would notice that the sound has lost the “ah” character (because your mouth is no longer open wide enough to make the “ah” sound) and that you are making a sound you can’t recognize as an English vowel.  The sound you are making is possibly close to this Korean vowel.Examples
eeSimilar to the vowel sound of the English word “eat”, before the /t/ soundExamples
ah-eeSimilar to the first part of the English word “apple”, before the /pl/ soundExamples
yah-eeSimilar to the first part of the English word “yank”, before the /ngk/ soundExamples
uh-eeSimilar to the vowel of the English word “end”, before the /nd/ soundExamples
yuh-eeSimilar to the first part of the English word “yes”, before the /s/ soundExamples
oh-ahThis begins with one vowel and rapidly transitions to another. The beginning sound is similar to the first part of the English word “wad” (before the /d/ sound) or “wash” (before the /sh/ sound), but it rapidly changes into a sound resembling the /a/ sound of “father”.Examples
oh-ah-eeSimilar to the first part of the English word “wag”, before the /g/ soundExamples
oh-eeSimilar to the first part of the English word “west”, before the /st/ soundExamples
oo-uhSimilar to the first part of the English word “one”, before the /n/ soundExamples
oo-uh-eeAnother Korean vowel similar to the first part of the English word “west”, before the /st/ soundExamples
oo-eeThe sound is exactly like the English word “we”.Examples
eu-eeUnlike any English vowel.  The sound begins with eu and rapidly changes into ee  .Examples


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