In the case of using the full "have" form of (__를) 가지고 있다, which is the correct honorific form? 가지고 있으세요 or 가지고 계세요?

I remember reading that in cases (__이/가) 있다 for "have" you are supposed to use 있으세요 but in this case, 고 있다 forms the present continuous form of the verb, right? So I'm guessing 계세요 is correct...

Edit: now that I think about this, maybe it should be 가지시고 있어요...? Hmmmmm......

2 Answers 2


This is also a confusing problem for most of the native Korean speakers. They will understand what you mean even if you use in a wrong way. But actually, there is a slight difference.

계시다 and 있으시다 are both honorific forms of 있다. But they are used in different situations. 계시다 is the honorific form of 있다 when 있다 is used as a verb or an auxiliary verb. 있으시다 is used when 있다 is used as an adjective(In Korean, there is no be-verb. Thus, every word which means a state of a thing or a person is considered as an adjective).

For example:

  • 거기 그대로 있어라/계세요. - In this case, 있다/계시다 is a verb.
  • 이것을 가지고 있어라/계세요. - In this case, 있다/계시다 is an auxiliary verb of another verb, 가지다.
  • 아버지께는 형님이 한 분 있다/있으시다. - In this case, the sentence can be translated into There is a brother of my father's. (This sentence is a little bit unnatural but I translated it in word-for-word.) 있으시다 in the sentence is a be-verb, not a normal verb. In Korean sentence, 있다 is considered to be an adjective. Therefore, 계신다 is wrong in this case.

Add) Steven's examples show a very important characteristic of Korean honorific. His example sentences show the difference between direct honorific(직접 높임) and indirect honorific(간접 높임). 계시다 is a

  • 선생님께서 거실에 계신다

This sentence used 직접 높임 because the honorific form 계신다 is honoring the subject 선생님.

  • 선생님께는 아기가 있으시다.

The second sentence is using 간접 높임. If you use 직접 높임 here, it honors another noun, 아기(Baby). We are trying to honor our teacher, not his/her baby. (If we say 선생님께서는 아기 갖고 계신다 it is okay because 을/를 makes removes the ambiguity of the target to honor. 계신다 is used to honor 선생님, obviously. But in the example above, after 아기, 이/가 is used.) In this case, we use 간접 높임 to avoid honoring 아기 in the sentence.

계시다 is the direct honorific form of 있다. 있으시다 is the indirect honorific form.

  • In the case of the auxiliary, what I don't see is why you don't add 시 to the main verb, as in other cases? I mean, shouldn't it really be 가지시고 있어요...isn't that better grammar? There are many examples of that in Korean.
    – B. Alvn
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 10:42
  • 1
    Usually, main verbs are transformed into honorific forms, but in this case, 있다 is changed. It is an exceptional case. I think it is because of the convenience of pronunciation. 가지시고 있어요 is a little bit tougher to pronounce than 가지고 계세요 for native Korean speakers.
    – jungyh0218
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 9:00

Jungyh's answer really surprised me. I'm not Korean but I am almost certain that the differentiation is, when you are asking if a 윗사람 is there, or you're saying that person is doing something you say

  • 아버지가 집에 계세요?
  • 아버지가 뭘 하고 계세요?

But if you are referring to a 윗사람's possession you use 있으세요.

  • 아버지가 돈 있으세요?

Because in the first instance the verb is applying to the Dad himself and requires the highest honorific term, where as if you are just talking about an object he owns then you use the standard verb/adjective + 시 particle which conjugates into 있으세요.

I know jung is Korean and I'm not so I encourage you to check with a few more Koreans!

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