Learn Korean: 고 싶다 VS 지고 싶다


It’s not too late to learn to say ‘someone wants to do something’. In this note, we’re going to look at two patterns and some rules that come with them. There is no verb conjugation involved here. All you need to do is take the verb stem and add  싶다 or  싶어하다.

First, we never use them with state verbs (adjectives) and 이다 (be). And then you ask, how do we say ‘I want to be smart’ or ‘I want to be an interpreter’ in Korean? Good question. As for ‘be + noun’, we use 되다 in place of 이다. As for ‘be + adjective’, we add 지다 to the conjugated form of state verbs.

I want to be an interpreter.
나는 통역사가 이고 싶다.
나는 통역사가 되고 싶다.

I want to be smart.
나는 똑똑하고 싶다.
나는 똑똑해지고 싶다.

Second, we only use the – 싶다 in first and second person. When the subject is first person, it expresses the person’s desire as in ‘I want to buy a house’. The same goes for the second person but only in interrogative sentences as in ‘Do you want to see me?’ That is why even without  or , it is clear who the subject is.

I want to buy new rubber shoes.
 운동화를 사고 싶어요.

I want to go to Seoul.
서울로 가고 싶어요.

I want to eat samgyetang.
삼계탕 먹고 싶어요.

Do you want to die?
죽고 싶어?

What do you want to be 10 years from now?
10 후에 뭐가 되고 싶어요?

Where do you want to go? 
어디에 가고 싶어?

For the third person, we strictly use the pattern ‘- 싶어하다’.

많은 외국인들이 한국에서 살고 싶어해요.
Many foreigners want to live in Korea.

다현이가 빨리 졸업하고 싶어해요.
Dahyun wants to graduate as soon as possible.

아이들은 빵을 먹고 싶어해요.
The kids want to eat bread.