Want In Korean

In this lesson, you will learn how to express ‘want‘ in Korean. Learning how to say ‘want’ in Korean is very useful and can be used in many situations. For example, imagine you were planning on eating lunch with your friends. You might want to ask “What do you want to eat?” or you may want to tell them “I want to eat…”

In this lesson, we will teach you how to use –고 싶어요 to ask and talk about what you want to do in Korean.

I want to … (~고 싶어요)

~고 싶어요 comes from ~고 싶다 (to want to). When it is conjugated in the present tense, ~고 싶다 becomes ~고 싶어. Then, to make it polite, we add the polite ending ‘‘. So, ‘I want to…’ in Korean in the polite present tense is ~고 싶어요.

In Korean, to say ‘I want to (do something)’ you attach ~고 싶어요 to an action verb. This expresses your want to do the action mentioned.

Here are some common Korean action verbs you can use with ~고 싶어요:

  • 하다 – to do
  • 가다 – to go
  • 먹다 – to eat
  • 보다 – to see/watch

To conjugate these verbs with ~고 싶어요, first you must take off 다, which leaves you with the basic verb stem. Then attach ~고 싶어요 to the verb stem. Let’s look at some examples:

  • 고 싶어요 – I want to do.
  • 고 싶어요 – I want to go.
  • 고 싶어요 – I want to eat.
  • 고 싶어요 – I want to see / watch.

Now that you know how to conjugate action verbs with the ending ~고싶어요 you can easily make sentences expressing what you want to do in Korean. Here are some example sentences:

  • 치킨 먹고 싶어요 – I want to eat chicken.
  • 영화 보고 싶어요 – I want to watch a movie.
  • 한국어 공부하고 싶어요 – I want to study Korean.
  • 지금 가고 싶어요 – I want to go now.

What do you want to do? – 뭐 하고 싶어요?

In a previous lesson, you learned that ‘what’ in Korean is 뭐. Using what (뭐) plus want (~고 싶어요) you can easily make questions to ask somebody ‘What do you want to do?’ in Korean.

‘What do you want to do?’ in Korean is 뭐 하고 싶어요? This is made up of 뭐 (what) plus 하다 (to do) plus ~고싶어요 (want). To make other questions, such as ‘What do you want to eat?’ / What do you want to watch?’, etc, simply replace the 하다 verb with a different verb.

Here are some example questions with ‘want’ in Korean:

  • 고 싶어요? – What do you want to do?
  • 고 싶어요? – What do you want to eat?
  • 고 싶어요? – What do you want to watch?
  • 고 싶어요? – What do you want to buy?

Review Exercise – Example Conversation

Here is an example conversation using ‘want’ in Korean. Read it and try to guess what it means. Then click on the ‘English’ tab to see the translation.

A: 뭐 하고 싶어요?
B: 영화 보고 싶어요.
A: 영화 보고 싶어요?
B: 네.
A: 팝콘 먹고 싶어요?
B: 아니요.
A: 뭐 먹고 싶어요?
B: 핫도그 먹고 싶어요.

A: 뭐 하고 싶어요? – What do you want to do?
B: 영화 보고 싶어요. – I want to watch a movie.
A: 영화 보고 싶어요? – Do you want to watch a movie?
B: 네. – Yes.
A: 팝콘 먹고 싶어요? – Do you want to eat popcorn?
B: 아니요. – No.
A: 뭐 먹고 싶어요? – What do you want to eat?
B: 핫도그 먹고 싶어요. – I want to eat a hotdog.