Here’s information about the preposition ‘에‘ (from ROB at Korean Digital Academy)
A couple things about this…
1) the difference between ~에 and ~에서
Both can be prepositions of place (translating to at, in, on, etc in many cases), however the primary difference between the two is that ~에 is used when talking about the location of something and the EXISTENCE of the thing in that place; in other words, the thing you are talking about is not doing anything. Very commonly the two verbs used in this situation would be 있어요 and 없어요.
To give you some examples…
사과가 냉장고에 있어요
데이빗씨는 도서관에 있어요~에서 is going to be used to mean the EXACT same thing however the subject will be doing something; in other words, as opposed to just using 있어요 or 없어요, an action verb will be used.
데이빗씨는 도서관에서 공부해요
In this example, you are studying in the library.
Does that make sense?
2) Your question about it being a preposition…(and what I am about to write applies to both ~에 and ~에서 and many, many other attachments)…
Yes, ~에서 represents a preposition of place, but simply because that is the case, do not make the mistake of trying to relate it exactly to the English sentence ’cause at this level, rarely does it work that way. I say this in reference to your statement, “In the first phrase 에서 represents a grammar convention and conveys no meaning”.It does convey meaning. It conveys the exact same meaning as it does in the statement; it’s just that questions are formed differently in Korean than English.
If you remember back in class #3 when we first learned about making questions, we simply did a substitution (from the word being asked about to the question word being asked), i.e…
뭐 예요Applying this idea to the example you asked about, ~에서 is attached to the word you are asking about; the place. So when you substitute out that word and substitute in the question word, “where”, the attachment is still going to be there. Here’s what I mean…
In this example, 어디 has replaced the word 도서관, but the ~에서 attachment is still there.
Does that make sense?
영화관에서 – at the movie theatre
학교에서 – at school
집에서 – at home
서울에서 – in Seoul
영국에서 – in England
부산에서 아산까지 – from Busan to Asan
버스에서 내려요. – get off a bus.
방에서 나가요! – Get out of the room!
아산에 살아요. – I live in Asan.
학교에 가요. – I go to school.
어디에 있어요? – Where is it?
교실에 있어요. – It’s in the classroom.
책상 위에 있어요. – It’s on the desk.
문 앞에 – in front of the door.
몇시에 만나요? – What time are we meating?
토요일 저녁에 – on Saturday night.
2014년 7월 29일에 – on July 29, 2014