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Beginner 1 > Lesson 26

Lesson 26. Particle (으)로’s Many Usages

In this lesson, we’re going to learn how to use (으)로 particle and its main usages.

Noun (ends in 받침) + 으로

Noun (doesn’t end in 받침) + 로

Ex. 학교 (school) > 학교로

집 (house) > 집으로

The only exception to this rule is when a noun ends in “ㄹ” 받침 then 로 is used.

Ex. 팔 (arm) > 팔로


So now, let’s find out how (으)로 can be used.

Usage #1: Direction

(으)로 can be followed by 7 main direction nouns.

오른쪽 = right 

*오른 (right), 쪽 (side)

왼쪽 = left

*왼 (left)

앞 = front

뒤 = back

위 = up

아래/밑 = down

Let’s look at some example sentences:

오른쪽으로 가세요. – Please, go right. (or, Go to the right side).

왼쪽으로 오세요. – Please, go left. (or, Go to the left side).

앞으로 가. – Go forward.

뒤로 와. – Come backward.

(위로) 올라와. – Come up.

(위로) 올라가. – Go upward. 

** 올라오다 = to come up; 올라가다 = to go up.

 (아래로) 내려와. – Come down.

(밑으로) 내려가. – Go down.

*** 내려오다 = to come down; 내려가다 = to go down.


Usage #2: “to” somewhere | () vs.

When you say “to (a place)”, both (으)로 and 에 are used, but they are not entirely the same. 

에 is used when somebody is getting somewhere itself, whereas, ~(으)로 implies that somebody is getting somewhere from somewhere else.

Let’s look at the examples:

저는 학교(에) 가요. – I go to school.

저는 집(에) 가요. – I go home.

어디에 가? = 어디 가? – Where are you going?

These sentences are focused on the heading point.

*~에 can be removed in all the examples above and would still have the same meaning.


As for ~(으)로, it’s not only focused on the heading point but also the starting point.

화장실 가고 싶어요. – I want to go to the bathroom.

(여기에서) 어디 가야 해요?* – (From here) to where do I have to go? 

*this sentence has a starting point indicated with 에서, so (으)로 sounds more natural. 

vs. 어디 가야 해요? = Where do I have to go? > used to specifically ask about a heading point. 


Let’s look at other examples:

저는 경기도에서 서울 통근해요. – I commute from Gyeonggi province to Seoul.

제프는 아침에 집에서 학교 갔어. – Jeff went from home to school.

저는 (여기서*) 편의점으로 갈 거예요. – I will go from here to a convenience store.

*even though saying 에서 is more common, it can be shortened to 서 as in the example above. 


Usage #3: A means of transportation / a tool. 

  1. ~(으)로 can be used to mark the means of transportation and translates as “by”.

저는 지하철 통근해요. – I commute by subway.

버스 가자. – Let’s go by bus.

강남에서 경기도까지 버스 한 시간 걸려요. – It takes one hour from 강남 to 경기도 by bus.

*Place Noun 에서 + Place Noun 까지 = From (place) To (place).


  1. To indicate a “tool” (translates as “with”).

연필 썼어요. – I wrote it with a pencil. 

으로 쓰세요. – Please, write it with a pen. 

으로 써. – Write it with your hand.

이거 발 썼니? – Did you write it with your foot?

제프와 스카이프 영상통화를 했어요. – I did a video call with Jeff by using Skype.

이거 뭐 만들었어요? – With what did you make it?


Usage #4: Choice

First, let’s look at this example:

A: 이거랑 저거 예쁘다! 뭐 살까? – They’re both pretty! Which one shall we buy?

*by saying “뭐로”, we indicate that we need to make choice.

B: 저거 사자. – Let’s buy that one.

** we put “로” to “저거” to indicate a choice.

So, in this case, ~(으)로 particle is used to indicate a choice to be made among all the other options. 


Let’s look at other dialogues:

A: 어디(에) 갈까? – Where shall we go?

B: 공원(에) 가자! – Let’s go to the park!

A: 어디 갈까? – Which park (among other parks) shall we go to?

B: 한남동으로 가자! – Let’s go to 한남동. 


One more:

A: 어떤 거 드릴까요? – Which one shall I give (to you)?

B: 아메리카노 주세요. – Americano, please.

B: 떡볶이 주세요. – Give me 떡볶이, please.


Let’s summarize everything:

~(으)로 particle has four main usages:

Usage #1: Direction + ~(으)로

Usage #2: “Place + (으)로” to indicate a heading point, but also, implying the starting point.

Usage #3: “a mean of transportation/a tool + ~(으)로” to mean “by a transport/with a tool”.

Usage #4: “Noun of choice + ~(으)로 “to indicate your choice among the other choices