I know this question gets asked a lot but, I've yet to find an answer which really gives me an explanation. My understanding of korean grammar is a bit basic but here's what I know:

보고싶다 = Dictionary form/plain, or diary form, however you want to call it.

보고싶어 = Conjugated to present tense and is not formal/polite.

I also know basic past and future tense conjugation for verbs and adjectives of varying politeness.

So, knowing that, I'm confused about why someone would say 보고싶다, putting politeness aside. My boyfriend says it to me, whereas I say 보고싶어.

I would really appreciate it if someone could provide me with some clarification!

  • Welcome to KSE.
    – HK Lee
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 14:48
  • For an informal conversation both are right
    – user17915
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 3:22

2 Answers 2


1) 보고 싶다

나는 그녀가 보고 싶다. I miss her. (Usually, we use this form in a diary)

2) 보고 싶어.

니가 보고 싶어 I miss you. (Usually, in conversation when talker is older than or equal to listener. When listener is strictly older than talker - A, 선생님, 보고 싶습니다. teacher, I miss you.)

3) Usually older use the both 싶다 싶어 in conversation.

"영화 보고 싶다" I want to see the movie.

"밥먹고 싶다 (=밥 먹고 싶어, 배고픈데, 밥먹자, 밥 어때?)" I want to eat meal.

4) In conversation, 싶어 is lowering and 싶습니다 is honoring. But we use 싶다 except the uncontroversial case A.

I believe that people believe that it is indirect : hiding half of his feeling and exposing his want.

Further, a some boy use 싶어 only to his boyfriends. He may hear that he is a girl. On the other hand, a some girl use 싶다 only to her girlfriends. She may hear that she is a boy.

In my opinion, for prohibiting a leaning, we mix direct and indirect expressions in conversation.


보고 싶다 belongs to 해라체 whereas 보고 싶어 belongs to 해체. Sentence endings determine styles of speech:

-다: 해라할 자리에 쓰여, 어떤 사건이나 사실, 상태를 서술하는 뜻을 나타내는 종결 어미.

-어: 할 자리에 쓰여, 어떤 사실을 서술하거나 물음·명령·청유를 나타내는 종결 어미.

People tend to mix 해라체 and 해체 when they converse with their very close friends. Therefore, 보고 싶다 and 보고 싶어 are practically the same.

I have no idea how you were taught about 상대 높임법, but treating the six styles (하십시오체, 하오체, 하게체, 해라체, 해요체, 해체) all differently is quite impractical. As a professor, 임지룡 opposes the conventional explanations on 상대 높임법. His treatise says:

‘해라’와 ‘해’는 ... 격식을 차리거나 긴장하지 않고 편안하게 사용하는 말씨이다.

It means that 해라체 and 해체 are ways of speaking that one uses without her or his being formal, nervous, and uneasy. In addition, the article includes this simplified table for 상대 높임법:

Simplified table for 상대 높임법

The table contains only the styles people often use these days; 유표형 refers to the use of -시-. As you see, 간다 (해라체) and 가 (해체) are in the same cell, which means that the difference of the two styles are practically insignificant. But he states that 해체 is more frequently used than 해라체.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.