I saw the boldfaced sentence in my Korean textbook.

저는 2개월 전에 베트남에 왔습니다. 베트남에서 한국어를 가르칩니다. 선생님 들도 좋고 학생들도 착합니다. 베트남 음식도 맛있습니다. 베트남 생활은 재미있 지만 가끔 가족이 보고 싶습니다.

Does the bold sentence mean "Life in Vietnam is interesting but sometimes I want to meet my family" or "Life in Vietnam is interesting but sometimes my family want to meet me"?
If it is the first one then should it be 베트남 생활은 재미있 지만 가끔 가족 (not 가족이) 보고 싶습니다?

  • The bold one is the first one. In that sentence, "가족이 보고싶습니다." is totally fine. If you want to use "가족이", then "가족들이 보고싶습니다" is more natural.
    – Karl
    Apr 26 '17 at 20:37
  • Additionally, 가족이 보고싶습니다 could be translated to "I miss my family" in English.
    – Karl
    Apr 26 '17 at 20:39

~이 makes 보고 싶다 more idiomatic. Consider the following example:

호랑이를 보고 싶다.
I want to see a tiger.
가족이 보고 싶다.
I miss my family.

Compare it with the verb 그립다, which means to miss somebody - you say, 가족이 그립다, using 이 as the "object particle" just like you would with 보고 싶다.

Now, just because you said 호랑이 보고싶다 wouldn't mean you miss tigers in general. That would make no sense! So you'd have to look at contextual clues as well as the particle in order to understand/use the sentence correctly. But in verbal communication we just omit the particles anyway, so you wouldn't have to worry about it too much.

  • Is this related to korean.stackexchange.com/questions/271/… ?
    – topo morto
    Apr 22 '17 at 6:05
  • @topomorto Yeah, I would say so. I definitely saw at least one another question that asked the same thing. I was going to find them & flag as dup but got too lazy while looking lol Apr 22 '17 at 6:14
  • It's probably worth noting 그립다 is a 형용사, so would never take an object. Perhaps there's another action verb that would be better to use as comparison? May 24 '17 at 0:31
  • You you explain why "Now, just because you said 호랑이가 보고싶다 wouldn't mean you miss tigers in general."? What is it that makes 가족 special? Is it just because it's more idiomatic or some rule to follow? May 24 '17 at 0:33
  • @ryanbrainard No that was just more about the semantics, like it doesn't really make much sense to miss something general. Same goes for families - you say "I miss my family", not "I miss a family". May 24 '17 at 0:35

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