Contrast marker vs subject marker

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Although both sets of particles are equivalent to the subject in English, they function in Korean as markers for either the topic of the sentence (은/는) or the subject of the sentence (가/이).

The topic marker (은/는) has three main functions:

(1) Talk about general or habitual information concerning a noun.
Ex: 저는 민지이고 대학생입니다. I'm Minji and I'm a college student.

(2) Change the topic of conversation
Ex: 제가 사과 먹고 친주는 포도 먹어요. I'm eating apples and my friend is eating grapes.

(3) Show a contrast between two or more topics
Ex: 저는 사과 좋아하지만 친구는 안 좋아해요. I like apples, [however] my friend does not.

The subject marker (가/이) has diverse functions:

1. When the noun precedes the verbs 되다 and 아니다.
그녀는 의사가 되었어요 ( = 됐어요).She became a doctor.
그녀는 나쁜 사람이 아니에요.She is not a bad person.

2. When the noun is a direct object of the verbs 있다, 없다, and 필요하다.
(전) 지금 여자친구가 있어요. I have a girlfriend now.
(전) 지금 돈이 없어요.I don’t have money now.
(전) 지금 차가 필요해요.I need a car now.

3. When the noun is the object or complement of certain verbs that express psychological or emotional states.
(전) 제 여자친구가 좋아요. I like my girlfriend (lit: As for me, my girlfriend is good).
(전) 노래를 잘 부르는 사람이 부러워요.I envy someone who sings very well.
(전) 지진이 너무 무서워요.I am really scared of earthquakes.

4. When the noun plays a focused possessive role.
친구가 마음이 아파요.
My FRIEND’s heart hurts. (not just anybody’s heart)
친구 마음이 아파요.
My friend’s heart hurts.

5. To emphasize negation (after verb ending ~ 지 / 하지)
지금 먹고 싶지가 않아요.
I (really) don’t want to eat now.
지금 먹고 싶지 않아요.
I don’t want to eat now.
Also, they can affect how a person's name is spoken.
For a Korean person's name, if there is a consonant at the end, then : 이름 + 이 + 가
지은 → 지은이가
철수 → 철수가
은선 → 은선이가
영희 → 영희가
한별 → 한별이가
But for a foreigner's name, if there is a consonant at the end: 이름 + 이
John → 존이
Sam → 샘이