Korean Lesson: 나보고 VS 나한테

나보고  is not a combination of 보다, and – as you might think it is. It is just another way of saying ‘to me’. So if it is just ‘another way’ of saying, what is the other one then? Most commonly, people use 나한테 when speaking and 나에게 when writing. Even so, it is wrong to think that 나보고 and 나한테 are interchangeable. Sometimes they are but most of the time, only the other one is natural. In order to solve this confusion, let’s take a look at some sentences and see if 나보고 and 나한테 are compatible or not.

Give it to me.
나한테 . (O)
나보고 . (X)

She told (to) me that I am handsome.
걔가 나한테 잘생겼다고 했어. (O)
걔가 나보고 잘생겼다고 했어. (O)

She told (to) me that I am handsome.
엄마 친구가 나한테 바보래. (O)
엄마 친구가 나보고 바보래. (O)

Are you telling (to) me to pay all these?
이걸  나한테 내라고? (O)
이걸  나보고 내라고? (X)

My students told (to) me that I look like Kim Byung Man.
 학생들이 나한테 김병만이랑 닮았대. (X)
 학생들이 나보고 김병만이랑 닮았대. (O)

My mom said to me that I should never borrow money.
엄마가 나한테 절대  비리지 말라고 했어. (O)
엄마가 나보고 절대  빌리지 말라고 했어. (X)

He really said those words to me.
그가  말을 진짜 나한테 했어. (O)
그가  말을 진짜 나보고 했어. (X)


It seems that 나한테 is more flexible than 나보고 as it can be used with verbs like give, send, show, etc. Whereas 나보고 is exclusively used with reporting verbs like tell and say. There are sentence patterns where 나보고 is natural some sentences sound better with 나한테. However, there are also ones where it is possible to use both. I recommend that you use 나보고 in sentence patterns #4 and #5.