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I've recently begun learning Korean and I just learned that 의 is often pronounced like 에, hence why 저의 becomes 제.

If this is the case, how can I tell the difference between 의 and 에 in speech?

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They are often pronounced the same. When this is the case, then rather like with English homophones like for/four or hear/here, you just have to tell from the context.

Normally, 의 will link to another noun that comes after:

한국의 수도는 서울이다 - Korea's capital is Seoul.

에 will usually link to a verb that comes after:

어디에 가요? - Where are you going?

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  • Small correction: the last sentence should be "나는 언니에게 빵을 줬다." People and animals take "-에게" when they receive something; (I think) everything else uses "-에". – jick Jun 23 '17 at 0:19
  • @jick I thought I'd heard Koreans say person+에 - do you think that's actually really 'unnatural', or could it be just 'casual'? – topo Reinstate Monica Jun 23 '17 at 7:24
  • @topomorto We use -에 for non-human beings(무정물), such as companies. We use -에게 only for humans or "conscious beings(유정물)". Koreans sometimes (wrongly) use -에게 in place of -에, but they almost never use -에 in place of -에게. ex) 도서관 책을 반납했다, 친구에게 모르는 문제를 물어보았다. – Jihyung Kang Jun 23 '17 at 12:13
  • @topomorto I don't know if younger generations recently developed a new pattern (happens all the time), but to my (~40-year-old) ears, "언니에" does not sound right. (As Jihyung said, organizations get "-에", so you will have 학교에, 정부에, 경찰서에, 담당 부서에, 가정에, etc., but 사람들에게, 가족/식구에게, 친구들에게, etc.) – jick Jun 23 '17 at 18:57

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