In this lesson, let us take a look at the suffix -겠-. It is very commonly used in everyday Korean, but often not understood very well by learners, mainly because it has so many different meanings and usages.
Various Usages of -겠-
You can use -겠- to ask someone’s intention, to express what you are going to do, to talk about something that will happen, to show your assumption about something, or to talk about possibilities or capabilities. It is also often used in fixed expressions such as 처음 뵙겠습니다 (= Nice to meet you.) and 잘 먹겠습니다 (= Thank you for the food.).
1. -시겠어요? / -시겠습니까? = “Would you …?” “Would you like to …?”
This usage is only used in very formal Korean. In more casual Korean, you would use -(으)ㄹ래(요)? (Review Level 4 Lesson 2 for this grammar point). The honorific suffix -시- is always used with -겠- in this usage.
= Where would you like to go?
Similar: 어디로 갈래(요)?
2. -겠- (used to express one’s intention) = I’m going to …, I’d like to ...
Mostly used in formal Korean, -겠- can also express one’s intention to do something. In more casual Korean, the same meaning can be expressed through -(으)ㄹ게(요) (Review Level 3 Lesson 6 for this grammar point).
= I’ll do it.
= I won’t tell you.
3. -겠- (used to express one’s opinion/idea/assumption) = I think, I guess, I assume
This is the most common usage of -겠- in casual and everyday conversation in Korean. You can use -겠- to show your opinion or assumption about something or what will happen, but you also give a nuance that you are somewhat careful with your opinion.
= That must hurt.
= I think this will be good.
= (I think) You’ll be late.
** When you want to express your assumption or ask someone else’s opinion about a possibility or a capability, you can use -겠-.
= Do you think you could handle it on your own?
= Even I would (be able to) fit in.
4. -겠- used in fixed expressions
In addition to the usages above, -겠- is also commonly used in some fixed expressions.
= I got it. I understand.
= I don’t get it. I don’t know. I am not sure.
= I’m so tired. This is so tough.