Do koreans clearly distinguish between ᄀ/ᄏ, ᄃ/ᄐ, ᄇ/ᄑ, ᄌ/ᄎ, ᄉ/ᄊ, 애/에, 어/오 while hearing a native speech? I have tried to catch the difference between these sounds, but I cannot find any pronunciation difference between 비 and 피, 살 and 쌀, 내 and 네, 속 and 석. Do koreans really pronounce ᄀ/ᄏ, ᄃ/ᄐ, ᄇ/ᄑ, ᄌ/ᄎ, ᄉ/ᄊ, 애/에, 어/오 differently?

  • In modern Korean 애/에 are barely told but the others you mentioned are definitely distinguished in everyday conversations. Like 99%.
    – Coconut
    Feb 9, 2019 at 14:55
  • When I hear something like "choŋhap", I need to search words 청합, 정합, 총합, 종합 in the dictionary. Sometimes it's not easy to distinguish between "n" and "ŋ". Feb 9, 2019 at 15:03
  • With the exception of ㅐ/ㅔ, they are as clearly distinguished as, say, English f/p or s/sh.
    – jick
    Feb 9, 2019 at 19:39

1 Answer 1


It actually distinguished except ㅐ/ㅔ.

ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅊ (Aspirated Consonant) -> Definitely distinguished.

ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅉ, ㅆ (Tensed Consonant) -> Distinguished. But not as Aspirated Consonant.

ㅐ/ㅔ -> Actually not distinguished in daily life. pronunciation is almost same.
You don't have to think about pronunciation difference of ㅐ/ㅔ. It is distinguished by context in daily life.

어/오 -> Distinguished. Mouth shapes are quite different. Look out https://www.google.com/search?q=%EB%AA%A8%EC%9D%8C+%EC%9E%85%EB%AA%A8%EC%96%91&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=1w8vLPPRFOAeEM%253A%252CaBLoJh-Lu70lAM%252C_&usg=AI4_-kQ2gmn-NiaLadjHcMyyTvDOoc6FWA&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiC35_Ljq_gAhWNQN4KHTcEBPoQ9QEwAHoECAQQBA&biw=1536&bih=706#imgrc=1w8vLPPRFOAeEM: for images of mouth shapes.
But It may hard to distinguish if it pronounced in dialect.

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