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What meaning does the object marking particle(을) give in the sentence : "그가 중국에서 2년을 살았습니다."? If the sentence translates to "He lived in China for 2 years" in English, why is used to specify the time duration while it is not the object?

And on an unrelated note what difference would it exactly make if it is "그는" instead of "그가" in this sentence?

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  • 그가 slightly emphasizes the subject so the sentence focuses on more of the fact that it was he that lived in China for 2 years, whereas the sentence with 그는 is likely looking at the fact whoever has lived in China for 2 years. – Coconut Jan 22 at 8:15
  • 2년 is the object. 살다 takes such time duration as its object but English does not have a verb equivalent to it. 살다 ≠ live – Coconut Feb 2 at 11:13
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-을 after time duration usually gives a sense that this time duration is a fresh topic that is being brought up. I don't consider this -을 to be object marker.

For instance, if someone asked you about how long you've been living in Korea, then you would usually say: 2년 살았어 or 2년동안 살았어. It's without -을 with time duration because the duration was the topic of the conversation when you answered. However, if it's you who wants to start talking about the time duration, you can say 내가 한국에서 2년을 살았어.

Or, you can also use it to make emphasis on the time duration. 내가 3년을 공부했어 can sound like you're emphasizing on how long you've studied it. Like in other languages, an emphasis can be used for various reasons in different contexts. This may mean that you've had up with it, or just boasting it etc..

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감옥에서 2년을 지내다. 미국에서 2년을 보내다. These sound natural to me. 을 can be used to indicate the time duration.

그가 - pointing out 'he' is the one who lived in China for 2 years.

그는 - It can also mean that the speaker has been talking about another person who lived in a different situation or time, and then the speaker continues and says 'he' is living in China for 2 years.

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