Verbs - Contiunous

Continuous Form [~고 있다]

In this lesson, we'll learn about the 'continuous' form. It would be similar to the '-ing' form in English.

Informal Written Form Plain Form
Present Continuous
Positive 하다 하고 있다
Negative 하지 않다
안 하다
하지 않고 있다
안 하고 있다

  • 하다 = do
  • 하지 않다/안 하다 = not do
  • 하고 있다 = is doing
  • 하지 않고 있다/안 하고 있다 = is not doing

Note: The bold letters indicate which of the two alternatives in the negative form is more commonly used in the written form, i.e.:
  • 하지 않다 is more commonly used than 안 하다 in written Korean.

Informal Written Form Past Past Continuous
Positive 했다 하고 있었다
Negative 하지 않았다
안 했다
하지 않고 있었다
안 하고 있었다

  • 했다 = did
  • 하지 않았다/안 했다 = didn't do
  • 하고 있었다 = was doing
  • 하지 않고 있었다/안 하고 있었다 = wasn't doing

Conjugation Rules

Take 다 off the plain form of verbs, and then add 고 있(었)다 for their positive form and 지 않고 있(었)다 for their negative form.

  • 쓰다 → 쓰고 있다 = is writing
  • 피터는 편지를 쓰고 있다 = Peter is writing a letter.

    • 나눠주다 → 나눠 주고 있다 = is serving/distributing
    • 보영은 아이들에게 학교급식을 나눠주고 있다 = Bo-young is serving school meals to children.

        • 듣다 → 듣고 있었다 = was listening
        • 폴은 팀 켈러의 메세지를 듣고 있었다 = Paul was listening to a Tim Keller's message. 

          • 자다 → 자지 않고 있었다 = was not sleeping
          • 아기는 자지 않고 있었다 = The baby was not sleeping

            • 서다 → 서고 있었다 = was standing
            • 영근 근위병은 버킹엄 궁전앞에서 계속 서고 있었다 = The English guardsman was standing continuously in front of the Buckingham Palace.

                  Spoken Form

                  Informal Spoken Form
                  Present Continuous
                  Past Continuous
                  하고 있어
                  하고 있었어
                  하지 않고 있어
                  안 하고 있어
                  하지 않고 있었어
                  안 하고 있었어

                  • 하고 있어 = is doing
                  • 하지 않고 있어/안 하고 있어 = is not doing
                  • 하고 있었어 = was doing
                  • 하지 않고 있었어/안 하고 있었어 = was not doing

                  The conjugation rule is the same as the written form except 다 at the end of sentences changes to 어.

                  • 점심 먹고 있어 = I am eating lunch
                  • 줄리아는 안 달리고 있어 = Julia is not running

                  • 현우는 산을 올라가고 있어 = Hyun-woo is climbing a mountain.
                  • 민주는 과일 샐러드와 연어 조림을 만들고 있어 = Min-ju is making a fruit salad and fried salmon. 

                  • 아까부터 고슴도치가 안 움직이고 있었어 = Since a while ago, the hedgehog was not moving.

                  Polite Form

                  While the informal form in the examples above is used by people who are of the same age and/or close, or when older people are talking to younger people in informal situations, the polite form is commonly used by younger people addressing older people, and in any formal situations.

                  Polite Written Form
                  Present Continuous
                  Past Continuous
                  하고 있습니다
                  하고 있었습니다
                  하지 않고 있습니다
                  안 하고 있습니다
                  하지 않고 있었습니다
                  안 하고 있었습니다

                  • 하고 있습니다 = is doing
                  • 하지 않고 있습니다/안 하고 있습니다 = is not doing
                  • 하고 있었습니다 = was doing
                  • 하지 않고 있었습니다/안 하고 있었습니다 = was not doing

                  Polite Spoken Form
                  Present Continuous
                  Past Continuous
                  하고 있어요
                  하고 있었어요
                  하지 않고 있어요
                  안 하고 있어요
                  하지 않고 있었어요
                  안 하고 있었어요

                  • 하고 있어요 = is doing
                  • 하지 않고 있어요/안 하고 있어요 = is not doing
                  • 하고 있었어요 = was doing
                  • 하지 않고 있었어요/안 하고 있었어요 = was not doing

                  Conjugation rules

                  I) Informal Polite (Written) 

                   Simply 다 at the end of the informal written 'continuous' forms changes to 습니다 
                  • 하고 있다 → 하고 있습니다 = is doing
                  • 가고 있다 → 가고 있습니다 = is going
                  • 오고 있다 → 오고 있습니다 = is coming
                  • 걷고 있다 → 걷고 있습니다 = is walking
                  • 만들고 있다 → 만들고 있습니다 = is making

                  II) Informal Polite (Spoken)

                  Simply add 요 at the end of the sentences of the informal 'continuous' spoken form.

                  • 지혜는 학교 가고 있어요 = Ji-hye is going to school
                  • 영수는 수영 하고 있어요 = Young-su is swimming

                  • 철민이는 영화 보고 있었어요 = Chul-min was watching a movie.
                  • 정수는 조금 전까지 거실에 있었어요 = Jung-su was in the living room until a short while ago.

                  • 10분전쯤까지 버킹엄 궁전 앞에 아무도 안 서고 있었어요 = Until about 10 minutes ago, there was no one standing in front of the Buckingham Palace.



                  1. when do you use the continuous form in spoken or written form?

                  2. I have a question, is ~고 있어요 the same as ~고 있나요?

                  3. ~고 있어요 and 고 있나요 are not the same.. ~고 있나요 is a question form.

                  4. ~있니요 is the question form. Luke is correct.

                  5. I was wondering why "Chul-min is watching a movie." ends with 보고 있었어요 instead of 보고 있어요 since the sentence is not "Was watching a movie"?

                  6. A typo! Now, it's corrected.

                    영화 보고 있었어요 = was watching a movie.

                  7. This is so usefulm thank you! My beginner class didn't cover this, but this is the form my Korean friends use most of the time. Finally it all makes sense, hah!

                  8. Anyyeong, Park sonsaengnim.
                    could you tell me the best translator site??
                    i always confused with the untranslated word in google translator


                  9. I don't understand why you sometimes missing 를 and 에 patricles. for example:

                    지혜는 학교 가고 있어요 - Ji-hye is going to school
                    No "학교에" that indicate place where she going to, as far as I learned.

                    철민이는 영화 보고 있었어요 - Chul-min was watching a movie.
                    I thought supposed to be "영화를" because 영화 is object that the verb 보다 applied to.

                    아까부터 고슴도치가 안 움직이고 있었어 - Since a while ago, the hedgehog was not moving.
                    아까 부터에 Because it's time?

                    정수는 조금 전까지 거실에 있었어요 - Jung-su was in the living room until a short while ago.
                    전까지에 time again.

                    Is it because of the spoken form you can cut corners?

                    1. Hi Anonymous,

                      Yes, you're exactly right.

                      In spoken forms, you can omit 를/을 and 에 particles often.

                      Note: 에 particles can be omitted often when it's applied to "time."

                      However, usually, you cannot omit subject particles i.e. 는/은 and 가/이.

                      Additionally, you cannot attach 에 to 아까부터 or 전까지. They're used as they are.

                      아까부터 means "since a short while ago"
                      조금 전까지 means "until a short while ago"

                  10. i'm confused... what's the difference of 먹고 있지 않다 and 먹지 않고 있다?

                  11. 안녕하세요,
                    This comment is really late but i only just stumbled across this.
                    This is what im trying to write "i saw your picture. I liked it.i wanted to paint it but i cant paint, it's ruined! But i dont want to throw it away, it would be a waste" I wrote it this way.. I think im messing up the conjunctions 사진이 봤어요. 제가 너무 좋아해요 , 그래서 ,그림 하고싶었는데, 근데 제가 그림 못했어요..망했어요..!하지만 던지는 싫어.. 아까워서. Please correct me where im wrong 감사합니다 (:


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