-고 있다 ~ Present Progressive Tense

First of all, what is present progressive tense? It is the form of verb conjugation that indicates an action is currently ongoing. For example, “I eat” – in English – means that in general I eat. The present progressive tense of this would be “I am eating”. In other words, I am eating right now.

In Korean, the present progressive tense is created by adding -고 있다 to the root of the verb. Remember, in Korean all verbs end in 다. Remove 다 and you have the root. The verb 있다 can then be conjugated into the present, past or future. However, similarly to English, this grammatical principle is most commonly used in the present tense.

So let’s use the verb 먹다 – “to eat”. Following the rules of basic verb conjugation “나는 먹어.” means “I eat.” To create the present progressive tense, remove 다 from 먹다, leaving you with 먹. Now add 고 있다, conjugating the verb 있다 according to the same rules.

Results:
Present: 나는 먹고 있어. ~ “I am eating.”
Past: 나는 먹고 있었어. ~ “I was eating.”
Future: 나는 먹고 있을 거야. ~ “I will be eating.”

Examples:

전한지 못한 진심 (The Truth Untold)
난 울고 있어. ~ “I’m crying.”
Original verb: 울다 – to cry

Epiphany
고 있는 가면 속의 진짜 내 모습을 다 드러내. ~ “I’m revealing the real me hidden beneath this smiling mask.”
Original verb: 웃다 – to smile

Answer: Love Myself
난 지금도 나를 또 찾고 있어. ~ “I’m still looking for myself.”
Original verb: 찾다 – to look for, to find

BTS Cypher 4
숨쉬고 있어서 I’m sorry, bae. ~ “I’m sorry for breathing, bae.
Original verb: 숨 쉬다 – to breathe

봄 날 (Spring Day)
너희 사진을 보고 있어도 보고 싶다. ~ “Even though I’m looking at your picture, I miss you.”
Original verb: 보다 – to see, to look at

Outro: Wings
거긴 하늘일 테고 날고 있을 테니까. ~ “Because there’s the edge of the sky, and I’ll be flying.”
Original verb: 날다 – to fly


Special case: I am knowing

The verb 알다 – “to know” – behaves in a unique way in Korean. While you absolutely can say 난 알아. to mean “I know”, it is more common to say 난 알고 있어. – “I am knowing.”

Examples:

Tear
우리는 알고 있지. ~ “We both know.”

So What
고민 그만해 너는 이미 다 알고 있지. ~ “Stop worrying about it, you already know it all.”

Let Me Know
이미 다 끝난 건 알고 있지만 ~ “I know it’s all over already, but…”

Moon
네 존재가 얼마나 예쁜지 너 알고 있을까? ~ “Do you know how lovely your existence is?”


korean grammar 고 있다