it seems that most questions about the topic marker 은/는 relate to its distinction from subject markers.

I would like to ask if the following sentence attaching the topic marker to the object is correct (and natural):

기생충은 오늘 제가 봤어요

I realise that I could also have attached the topic markers to different words to obtain:

저는 오늘 기생충을 봤어요, or

오늘은 제가 기생충을 봤어요,

but since I want to steer the conversation towards the movie, I would argue it makes a lot of sense to attach the topic marker to 기생충. Then I might even follow up with 좋아요! (hopefully, I haven't watched the movie yet) and it would be obvious that the verb refers to the movie.

Is it possible to attach the topic marker to anything? Is it correct/natural when I place the topic first in the three sentences above? Are other word orders more natural?

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can attach the topic marker to many places, but the nuances may be subtle and don't necessarily match the notion of a "conversational topic": in particular, they don't mean "Let's talk about this now!", but more frequently, "Oh about this thing we've been just talking about..."

For example, "기생충은 오늘 제가 봤어요" would be a good sentence if we are already talking about the movie:

A: 주말에 영화나 같이 볼까요? 기생충 재미있다던데...

B: 기생충은 오늘 제가 봤어요.

"저는 오늘 기생충을 봤어요" would be a natural sentence, not particularly marked because the subject is kind of the "default position" for a topic marker.

"오늘은 제가 기생충을 봤어요" would be a natural sentence if the topic was "today":

A: 어제는 재미있는 일이 하나도 없었어요.

B: 그럼 오늘은 어때요?

A: 오늘은 (제가) 기생충을 봤어요.

  • By the way, to be more natural, it's usually better to drop "제가" altogether, because it should be obvious from the context.
  • Ah, you've made many points I wasn't aware of. Nice. Just to be clear, if I followed up any of the above sentences (e.g. topic maker attached to 저 or 오늘) with "좋아요" or "좋아해요", would it then be obvious that what I'm really saying is "I like(d) the movie"?
    – M. B.
    May 28, 2020 at 12:16
  • @M.B. Yes, if you immediately follow up with "좋아요" people will understand it as a remark on the movie. (I'm less sure about "좋아해요".) A slightly more natural way would be to connect them together into a single sentence: "오늘 기생충을 봤는데, 좋아요." You can either say "좋아요" (it's a good movie) or "좋았어요" (it was a good movie, i.e., I liked it).
    – jick
    May 28, 2020 at 17:05
  • In my opinion, 좋아해요 is a bit awkward here, because it's more often used for an ongoing preference (i.e., I'm the kind of person who likes this) - so it sounds less natural for a movie you just watched. On the other hand, this would be very natural: "저 기생충 정말 좋아해요. 극장에서 세 번 봤어요." (I really love Parasite - I saw it three times in the theater.)
    – jick
    May 28, 2020 at 17:11

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