I am struggling to understand the conjugation rule to conjugate 뵙다 in present tense, informal style & standard politeness.

Here's what I would expect:

1) 뵙다 (to see) is the honorific verb of 보다.

2) Because it's already an honorific verb we cannot add the respect particle for the subject (으시/시).

3) 뵙다 is an irregular verb because its verb stem ends in ㅂ (비읍). So ㅂ becomes 우 if the ㅂ is in front of a vowel (we don't consider the ㅇ which is a consonant).

  1. So to conjugate at the honorific politeness level + informal style:

Verb stem + honorific particle + tense + sentence ending.

  • We cannot use honorific particle (으시/시) because the verb is already honorific.

뵙 + 어요

ㅂ is in front of a vowel so the verb stem becomes: 뵈우

We add 어요: 뵈우 + 어요 = 뵈워요

Why it is 봬요?

What kind of vowel contraction we use to get the ㅐ?


1 Answer 1

  1. Yes, 뵙다 is an honorific verb of 보다, but to be precise, we need to distinguish between two types of such verbs: 1) raising the subject, 2) lowering the subject. More on this below.

  2. It is not entirely true that 뵙다 cannot have (으)시 form.

    General verbs with (으)시 in them (가시다, 하시다) raise the person who does the action, while a small number of special verbs honor the other person by lowering the person who does it: e.g. 드리다 (주다, give), 뵙다. These verbs can take the (으)시 form in some three-way cases, although not very common.

    As an example, imagine you're a 25-year-old in a company, and your boss is a 40-year-old manager. If your boss is going to see the 55-year-old president (사장님), you might ask your boss, 사장님 뵈실 거예요? Here you raise your boss relative to yourself by adding 시 to 뵈다, but at the same time you lower your boss relative to the president by using 뵙다 instead of 보다. So both kinds of honorifics are at work here.
    Another example: 아버지가 할아버지께 선물을 드리셨다 (Father gave a present to Grandpa - raise 아버지 and lowers 아버지 relative to 할아버지) vs 나는 할아버지께 선물을 드렸다 (only lowers 나), 나는 동생에게 선물을 줬다 (no honorifics). You can also use 드리셨습니다/드리셨어요, 드렸습니다/드렸어요, and 줬습니다/줬어요, which are the polite ending forms. Polite endings just make the phrasing polite to the person listening, and don't concern themselves with the persons mentioned in the sentence.

    (This kind of talk might be too much for learners, and even among native Koreans it might be declining nowadays. But older people have no problem with it, and if you watch Korean period dramas, you'll see so much elevated language that these examples in comparison would seem like the easiest plain talk)

  3. You're right that the ㅂ-irregular verbs usㅕally have the 받침 ㅂ turned into ㅜ, as in 아름답다 -> 아름다워. I don't know exactly how it came to be this way, but 뵙다 is a special case conjugating to 뵈어요 / 뵌 instead of 뵈워요/뵈운. It might be to retain 보다's conjugational affix 아 (while changing it to 어 to follow vowel harmonization), so that the two versions of the same word can remain close in form.

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