Korean: Present Progressive Tense ~고 있다 vs 〜아/어 있다


- The present tense in Korean is '~고 있다'. - '〜아/어 있다' is used when **the action has been completed and you are in a certain state**. '~고 있다' is used in situations where **the action is repeated continuously**. - If 타다,먹다,웃다,입다,신다,쓰다, use '~고 있다'. - Use '~고 있다' when you want to express 'living'.

If you are using Chrome or an Android phone, you can listen to the pronunciation by clicking on the Korean in the table or the Korean in the example sentences in the article!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Present Progressive Tense: ~고 있다

The present progressive is one of the tense grammars, like the present tense and past tense introduced earlier.
It is used to describe the situation in which the action is taking place now. Such as "going to school", "working", "sleeping", etc, which are all expression of the present progressive tense.

Now that you understand the meaning of the present progressive tense, we will explain how to use "present progressive tense: ~ 고 있다" and its related usage.

~고 있다

있다 means "to be, to have". In "~고 있다", it means "to act continuously and repeatedly", which is the basic description of the present tense.

The honorific is expressed in the following ways.

요-type: verb's stem + 고 있어요

습니다-type: verb's stem + 고 있습니다

Let's look at some practical examples.

가고 있어요.

going now.
가다: go

자고 있어요.

sleeping now.
자다: sleep

The above is the present tense, but you may see the "sitting on the chair" in Korean is a little differently.

의자에 앉아 있어요.

sitting on the chair

Here uses「앉아 있어요」,not「앉고 있어요」。
There are other examples such as "standing all the time", "hanging all the time", and so on.
Next, I would like to discuss the difference between "고 있다" and "아/어 있다".

~고 있다 vs 〜아/어 있다

After searching for some relevant information, the conclusion are

  • "〜아/어있다" is used when the action has been completed and keep in a certain state.
  • "~고 있다" is used when the action is repeated continuously.

For the sentence "sitting on the chair", the action of "sit" is not an action that is repeated over and over again, but rather the action of sitting down and remaining seated.
If you use "앉고 있어다", it means that you are doing the action of "sit" and not yet sitting in your chair.

Next, take a look at some examples to understand such a rule.

경찰은 거기에 서있다.

The police is standing there.

거기에 옷을 걸려 있다.

There are clothes hanging there.

꽃은 피어 있습니다.

The flowers are blooming.

After reading the examples above, you may have understood some of them. Unfortunately, there are some exceptions that cannot be explained by the above rule, so pay attention to them.
Next, we will explain the cases where you can only use "~고 있다" and the cases where you can only use "~아/어 있다".

Exceptions: the cases only use "~고 있다"

For the following verbs, you must use "~고 있다".

  • 타다 (ride), 먹다 (eat), 저다 (laugh)
  • 입다 (to be worn on the body), 신다 (to be worn on the feet), and CJLIM (to be worn on the head)
버스를 타고 있습니다.

I'm taking a bus.

빵을 먹고 있습니다.

I'm eating bread.

그녀는 웃고 있습니다.

She is smiling.

파란 옷을 입고있다.

Wearing blue clothes

오래된 신발을 신고있다.

Wearing old shoes.

모자를 쓰고있다.

Wearing a hat

Exceptions: the cases only use "〜아/어 있다"

There are two meanings of "살다". One is "dwelling" and the second is "living".

In "살아 있어요" and "살고있어요", one means "living" and the other means "dwelling".

  • 살아 있어요: Living
  • 살고 있어요: Dwelling
아직 살아있다.

Still alive

한국에서 살고있다.

Live in Korea.

Conclusion

  • The present tense in Korean is "~고 있다".
  • "〜아/어 있다" is used when the action has been completed and you are in a certain state. "~고 있다" is used in situations where the action is repeated continuously.
  • If 타다,먹다,웃다,입다,신다,쓰다, use "~고 있다".
  • Use "~고 있다" when you want to express "living".

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