Korean language: 뭐 드시겠어요? In my text book says "What will you eat?" But surely this means "what do you want to eat?"

  • All that being said below in my answer, if I read your question again now, perhaps you are commenting on the oddness of the phrase, "What will you eat" which of course native speakers would not say. To that, I agree. Then again, native English speakers don't have honorifics, perse; so we might say something odd to the Queen of England, like "What beast might you be dining on this evening, my queen?" – 제이 죤스톤 Feb 1 '17 at 13:13
  • In practice, it translates to both will and want. – spicypumpkin Feb 3 '17 at 2:21

If we break down 뭐 드시겠어요,

뭐 = what
드시다 = to eat (honorific form)
겠 = future particle
어요 = polite ending

So the most literal translation is, as your book says, "what will you eat?" or "what are you going to eat?".

Of course you are right that this particular phrase in Korean might be said in a situation where in English, we might more naturally ask "what do you want to eat?" - but then it might be even more natural to, e.g. in a restaurant, ask "what would you like, sir?", which is a further departure from the literal meanings of the words in the original Korean.

It comes down to a fundamental problem with translation, especially when it comes to languages that work very differently: You can't just change the words to the equivalent words; you have to look at the intent of the original language, and then find words in the target language that express that intent.


먹다 in its honorific form is 잡수시다 but also can be 드시다. So in short, 무엇을 드시겠어요? then is the honoring way to say 뭘 먹을거야?


I see your question has changed. If you are now asking about why the text book is using the future tense will it is because the verb conjugate 겠다 is a future tense. Then therefore while splitting semantic hairs, the future tense version of "Dude what do you want to eat?" must be "Dude what are you going to eat?". Additionally, the phrase 무엇을 드시겠어요? does not include the feeling/meaning of want in any of the words. For "What do you want to eat?" you might try:

뭐 드시고 싶은 것이 있으세요?

Which probably more literally translates to "Is there something that you want to eat?"

  • if only we can pick 2 best anwers as I think both are equally good and viable for best answer – And Wan Feb 7 '17 at 12:51

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