Like any other language, Korean has similar words that have similar meanings, but knowing the context to use them properly is key and can be confusing.
For beginners, knowing the difference between 누구 and 누가 is one of the most common questions people have. We’re going to explain the difference between the two in this post.
For starters, ‘누가’ is similar to what ‘who’ is in English, and ‘누구’ is similar to what ‘whom’ is in English. If you need a small refresher on English grammar (Even I do at times), then ‘who’ is used when we’re talking about the subject in a sentence. ‘Whom’ is used when we’re referring to the object in a sentence.
‘누가’ is also short for ‘누구가’ which if you’re familiar with Korean particles, ‘가’ is a subject marking particle which makes it easy to remember that ‘누가’ is referring to the subject in a sentence.
Let’s take a look at some examples with 누가 below:
누가 이겼어요? (nu-ga i-gyeo-sseo-yo) = Who won?
누가 했어요? (nu-ga hae-sseo-yo)= Who won?
누가 내 과자 가져갔어? (nu-ga nae gwa-ja ga-jeo-ga-sseo) = Who took my snack?
You can see that in each of these sentences, the subject of the sentence is ‘who’.
Now let’s take a look at some examples with 누구. Remember to use this when who is the object (meaning a verb is applying it’s action to it):
거기 누구 있어요? (geo-gi nu-gu i-sseo-yo) = Who’s there?
이 집은 누구 소유입니까? (i ji-beun nu-gu so-yu-im-ni-kka)= Who owns this house?
누구 보고 있어요? (nu-gu bo-go i-sseo-yo) = Who are you looking at?
To make it a bit easier to remember when to use each one, just remember that ‘누구’ is used in every instance of ‘who’ when it’s not the subject. Once you start listening to more Koreans speaking, you’ll start picking up on when to use each one naturally.