Question and answer:

백화점 어땠습니까?
1.백화점 사람 아주 많았습니다.
2.백화점 사람 아주 많았습니다.

The question and the answer #1 is from a Korean textbook (not written by a native Korean). I am not sure if the answer #2 is also correct or not. A Korean friend of mine told me that #2 is incorrect because the topic markers 은/는 are used only for people or things not for a place. For a place noun, we should use place particle 에 as in example above. If that is the case, then should we also use 에 instead of 은 in the question?

Thanks for the help.


Topic particle can be added to a place, given that a place is the subject or object of the sentence.

Ex: 서울은 인구가 많은 도시이다.

Wrong: 서울에 인구가 많은 도시이다.

The second is wrong since Seoul is the subject of the sentence. (Namely, the sentence is describing Seoul) The second sentence would mean: "A city which many population live in Seoul. " Which is strange.

In your example, you should use both, namely, particle for place + topic.

Ex: 백화점에는 사람이 아주 많았습니다.

  1. You want to focus on the fact that it is in the supermarket, not other places, that many people are present. So topic particle is needed.

  2. The subject of the sentence is 사람. The sentence is not describing the place, but the people, so you need 에 particle.

Subject particle can be added to another particle. Other examples that two particles are used at the same time:

로(by a method) + 만(only) => 로만(only by a method)

지 않다 + 을/를 => 지를 않다 => 질 않다 (This is the only example that 을/를 added after another particle)

은/는, 도(too), 만(only) are allowed to be added after another particle.

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