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Just a flash of thought. Which one is right to use to make present progressive sentences, and why?

  • “-고 있는다” and “-고 계신다” (honorific)

    나는 질문하고 있는다. 다른 분들은 답하고 계신다.

  • “-고 있는다” and “-고 계시다” (honorific)

    나는 질문하고 있는다. 다른 분들은 답하고 계시다.

  • “-고 있는다” and “-고 있으시다” (honorific)

    나는 질문하고 있는다. 다른 분들은 답하고 있으시다.

  • “-고 있다” and “-고 계신다” (honorific)

    나는 질문하고 있다. 다른 분들은 답하고 계신다.

  • “-고 있다” and “-고 계시다” (honorific)

    나는 질문하고 있다. 다른 분들은 답하고 계시다.

  • “-고 있다” and “-고 있으시다” (honorific)

    나는 질문하고 있다. 다른 분들은 답하고 있으시다.

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For a present progressive, in my thought, 고 있다 is one of typical ways.

I am asking 나는 질문하고 있다

@ exception : I know 나는 알고 있다.

Hence honorific form is : Others are asking 다른 분들은 질문을 하시고 계신다.

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  • 1
    하시고 계시다, 하시고 있다, 하고 계시다: they are all honorific and not necessarily wrong, but the last one is used the most. – Jihyung Kang Jan 24 '19 at 9:16
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Those all seem present progressive to me, except for this one:

  • 나는 질문하고 있는다.

I'm asking a question and I'm going to continue that (keep asking a question) in the near future.

It's in a future tense, different from that of,

  • 나는 질문하고 있다.

I'm asking a question.

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For usual expressions, the correct one is "나는 질문하고 있다. 다른 분들은 답하고 계신다." ("I am asking questions. Others are answering questions.") Nonetheless, some others will say that it is correct to say "나는 질문하고 있다. 다른 분들은 답하고 계시다." This seems to be due to 있다's confusing irregularity.


있다 is a verb and adjective (reference). When 있다 is used as an auxiliary verb, it has qualities of adjectives for some conjugations: '-고 있다' is the correct choice to end a sentence (reference). '-고 있는다' sounds awkward in a lot of sentences (reference).

분 is an honorific, and you used it in the subject; this 분 is incompatible with 있으시다 because 주체 높임법 should be used (reference).

The honorific of 있다 is 계시다. 계시다 is a verb according to the standard dictionary while some other dictionaries say it is sometimes an adjective. According to two recent answers of the National Institute of Korean Language (NIKL), 계시다 should follow verbs' conjugations (references A and B). Therefore, '-고 계신다' is correct. (Nevertheless, an interesting fact is that they used '-고 계시다' in this material (표준 언어 예절(2011) - 경어법) and even for this 2018 answer.)

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Approached squarely, this question is as intriguing as it is difficult; as a native speaker I instinctively noticed nearly all of the enumerated sentences sounded ‘odd', but then found myself struggling to explain why.

Per Kimo’s explanation on how 있다 can be used either as a verb or an adjective, it is technically correct to say “- 질문하고 있는다 / - 답하고 계신다”. However this sounds extremely unusual over the choice of “- 질문하고 있다 / 답하고 계시다” (and at this point I have a sneaky feeling that it should actually be “답하시고 계시다”), which is what you'd typically hear in real Korean conversations. It is debatable whether this is grammatically correct, since the exact grammatical role and qualities of 있다 is complex and even disputed.

Perhaps what makes this enquiry moot, however, is the fact that it is much more common for the same ideas to be expressed as:

  • “나는 질문하는 중이다. / 나는 질문 중이다.”

  • “다른 분들은 답하시는 중이다.”

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