Korean: Expression of desire, want to do...(~고 싶다)


I want to travel, I want to eat Korean food, I want to learn Korean... Such expressions are common in life and in conversation. So today we will talk about expressing your wishes or what you want to do in Korean (고 싶다). We will also talk about expressions such as past tense, question type, reason, etc.

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

I want to travel, I want to eat Korean food, I want to learn Korean... Such expressions are common in life and in conversation.
So today we will talk about expressing your wishes or what you want to do in Korean (고 싶다). We will also talk about expressions such as past tense, question type, reason, etc.

Verb + 고 싶다, Verb + 고 싶어하다

The 싶다 means "want to ..., desire".. Therefore, in Korean, When you say you want to do something, you use either "verb + 고 싶다" or "verb + 고 싶어하다". (Generally speaking, "고 싶다" is more common.)

For example:

EnglishKoreanEnglishKorean
eat먹다want to eat먹고 싶다 / 먹고 싶어하다
see보다want to see보고 싶다 / 보고 싶어하다
listen듣다want to listen듣고 싶다 / 듣고 싶어하다

Present tense

  • Verb + 고 싶다, Verb + 고 싶어하다
  • Verb + 고 싶어요, Verb + 고 싶어해요
  • Verb + 고 싶습니다, Verb + 고 싶어합니다
여행하고 싶다.

I want to travel.

이 노래를 듣고 싶어해요.

I want to hear this song.

Past tense

The above is the present tense usage, but how to express the past tense?
The past tense is

  • Verb + 고 싶었다, Verb + 고 싶어핬다
  • Verb + 고 싶었어요, Verb + 고 싶어핬어요
  • Verb + 고 싶었습니다, Verb + 고 싶어핬습니다
아침에 커피를 마시고 싶었어요.

I wanted to have coffee in the morning.

Negative Expression

  • Verb + 고 싶지 않다
  • Verb + 고 싶지 않아요
  • Verb + 고 싶지 않습니다
아침에 일어나고 싶지 않아요.

I don't want to wake up in the morning.

Expression for Question

  • Verb + 고 싶어?
  • Verb + 고 싶어요?
  • Verb + 고 싶습니까?
  • Verb + 고 싶으세요?
아침에 뭘 먹고 싶으세요?

What do you want to eat for breakfast?

어디에 가고 싶습니까?

Where do you want to go?

Expression for Reason

To express "because I want to..." can be used in the following way.

  • Verb + 고 싶어서
술을 사고 싶어서 편의점에 갔다.

I wanted to buy alcohol, so I went to a convenience store.

Use with 〜아/어 보세요

How to say "I want to try..." in Korean?
In the previous article Korean: 〜아/어 보세요 vs 〜아/어 보여요 vs 〜이/가 보여요, we talked about "try..., try to do..." is used with verb stem + 아/어 보세요.

So, the Korean word for "want to try..." is Verb + 아/어 보고 싶다.

이 요리를 먹어보고 싶어요.

I want to try this dish.

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