I was reading a dissertation on the syntax and semantics of the plural marker in Korean and I wanted to confirm whether I understood the differences in meaning between sentences (1) and (2) exactly right.

(1) 아이들이 물약들 잘 마셨다

(2) 아이들이 물약을 잘들 마셨다

So, as I see it, (1) means that the children drank the medicine rather well as a whole (some of them may have been a little reticent, or troublesome). However, (2) means that each of the children drank the medicine well, hence, absolutely no one made any fuss about it. Is this correct? If there is some subtle difference I'm not capturing, would you please explain it to me?

1 Answer 1


I don't agree with that dissertation. '들' on anything other than a noun indicates the plurality of the subject of the sentence that it is contained in.

"물약들" in (1) means "medicines (plural)". In other words, the 들 in 물약들 pluralizes the word it is attached to. So, the sentence means "The children drank the medicines well".

The "들" in "잘들" in (2), indicates the subject of the sentence, "아이들", is plural. But the subject is already marked plural, therefore making it redundant. If the subject is omitted, then it would make more sense.

Also, to my native ears, putting '들' after the object marker '을' sounds very unnatural. No one says anything like "*물약을들".

  • 1
    I agree with this answer; it is in agreement with this. -들 and 들 are different words in the standard dictionary.
    – Klmo
    Mar 13, 2020 at 8:15

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