Beginner 3 > Lesson 16. Verb-()려고 하다

Verb-()려고 : a clause connector that is used in the middle of a sentence which can only be used with verbs; in order to Verb

vs. Verb-()려고 하다: sentence ending


You add 으려고 to a verb stem ending in a consonant, and 려고 to a stem ending in a vowel.

한국어를 공부하다 + ~(으)려고 + 하다 > 한국어를 공부하려고 이 책을 샀어요. – I bought this book in order to study Korean.

케밥을 먹다 + ~(으)려고 + 하다 > 케밥을 먹으려고 터키 레스토랑에 갔어요. – In order to eat 케밥 I went to a Turkish restaurant.

친구한테 주다 + ~(으)려고 + 하다 > 친구한테 주려고 편지를 썼어요. – I wrote a letter in order to give it to a friend.


When Verb-(으)려고 is followed by 하다(to do) verb, it can mean :

Verb-(으)려고 (in order to) + 하다 (to do) : to do (something) in order to verb

A: 이거 왜 했어요? – Why did you do that?

B: 시간을 때우려고 했어요. – I did that in order to kill time.

시간 때우다: to kill time

However, when Verb-(으)려고 하다 is a sentence ending, it has very little to do with Verb-(으)려고 (in order to), and has different meanings of its own.


Verb-()려고 하다’s THREE main meanings as a sentence ending

  1. to plan to (going to)

When Verb-(으)려고 하다 means “to plan to,” usually the verb is conjugated in present tense -(으)려고 해요, because you’re sharing what you are currently planning to do in the future. It’s often used with the first-person subject “I” or “We.”

오늘 라이브 수업을 하려고 해요– I plan to do a live class today. / I’m going to do a live class today.

내일 일찍 일어나려고 해요. – I plan to wake up early tomorrow. / I’m going to wake up early tomorrow.

오늘 점심을  먹으려고 해요. – I’m planning on not having lunch today. / I’m not going to have lunch today.

오늘은 쉬는 날이라서 지난 주에 산 책을 읽으려고 해요. – Today is my day off, so I plan to read a book that I bought last week.

쉬는 날 / 휴일: a day off


Verb-(으)려고 해요 can be contracted to :

오늘 라이브 수업을 하려고요

내일 일찍 일어나려고요.

오늘 점심을  먹으려고요.

오늘은 쉬는 날이라서 지난 주에 산 책을 읽으려고요.

As you can see, 해 is removed from Verb-(으)려고 해요, and 요 ending is attached to 고 without spacing.

However, this contraction form CANNOT be used with 2nd or 3rd person subjects.


~(으)려고 해요 and ~(으)려고요 are interchangeable only when it’s present tense and only when the subject is the first person (I, We.). 
The only subtle difference would be that ~(으)려고요 sounds lighter.

이따가 한국어 수업을 [들으려고 해요 / 듣으려고 해요.] I plan to take Korean classes later today.

*when ~()려고 하다 is combined with a verb stem ending in ㄷ, ㄷ changes to . This is one of the irregular verbs.


Let’s look at more irregular verbs:

1) ㄷ ending stem + (으)려고

ㄷ is replaced by ㄹ and you add 으:

듣다 (to listen) > 들으려고 하다

걷다 (to walk) > 걸으려고 하다 > 공원에서 잠깐 걸으려고 해요. – I plan to walk in the park for a while.

Note that not all ㄷ ending stems follow this irregular rule:

받다 (to receive) > 받으려고

To find out which verbs are irregular and which are not, you can check out our lesson on Irregular Verbs.

2) ㄹ ending stem + (으)려고

When a verb stem ends in ㄹ, you don’t add 으 – you simply add 려고.

물다 (to bite) > 물려고

만들다 (to make) > 만들려고

3) ㅂ ending stem + (으)려고

ㅂ gets deleted and 우 is added:

줍다 (to pick up) > 주우려고

굽다 (to bake) > 구우려고 

4) ㅅ ending stem + (으)려고

ㅅ gets deleted and you add 으려고.

짓다 (to build / to write / to name) > 지으려고 

붓다 (to pour) > 부으려고


  1. To be about to

The second meaning is “to be about to,” and can be conjugated in present, past, and future tense. Usually used with the first-person subject.

1) Present Tense : (으)려고 해요

이제 저는 자려고 해요 / 자려고요. 다음에 또 얘기해요. – I’m about to go to sleep now. Let’s chat again next time.

2) Past Tense:  (으)려고 했어요

방금 말 끊어서 미안해. 무슨 말을 하려고 했어? – Sorry, I just cut you off. What were you about to say?

A: 저는 내일 이사가요. – I’m moving.

B: 안 그래도 물어보려고 했어요. 이사 잘 하세요. – I was about to ask (even if you didn’t mention it). Goodbye on moving!

*안 그래도: even if you didn’t Verb~ (used in situations when you were about to talk about something, but the other person mentioned it first).

3) Future Tense:  (으)려고 할 거예요

지금 지수한테 말을 걸면 울려고 할 거예요. 시간을 좀 주세요. – If you start a conversation with Jisoo right now, she’ll be about to cry. Give her some time.

말을 걸다: to start a conversation / to initiate a talk


  1. To try to Verb

The last meaning of ~(으)려고 하다 is “to try to Verb” and it can be also conjugated into the present, past, and future tense. Any subject can be used.

Note, that when you want to express the meaning of “to try to Verb”, you can’t use ~(으)려고요 contraction. Otherwise, it’ll deliver the meaning of “to be going to / to be about to”.

1) Present Tense: (으)려고 해요

고양이가 저를 물려고 해요. – The cat is trying to bite me.

저 도둑이 도망가려고 해요. 막아야 되지 않을까요? – That thief is trying to run away. Shouldn’t we stop him?

도둑: a thief

도망가다: to run away

막다: to block sb / to stop sb

2) Past Tense : (으)려고 했어요

Past tense (으)려고 했다 is usually used when you imply that the attempt of doing something has failed.

그 사람이 저를 때리려고 했어요. 정말 나쁜 사람이에요. – That person tried to hit me (but he failed). He’s such a bad person.

새 폰을 사려고 했는데 너무 비싸요. 그래서 대신 중고폰을 샀어요. – I tried to buy a new phone, but it was too expensive. So instead, I bought a second-hand one.
중고: secondhand

3) Future Tense : (으)려고 할 거예요

야생동물한테 다가가면 도망가려고 할 거예요. – If you approach wild animals, they will try to run away.

sb/sth한테/에게 다가가다: to approach sb/sth, to get near sb/sth

지수는 약을 안 먹으려고 할 거예요. 약이 아니라 사탕이라고 거짓말하세요. – Jisoo will try not to take a pill. Say(Lie) that it’s a candy, not a pill.
거짓말하다: to lie


[Sentence Practice]

방학 때 한국에 여행가려고요. – I plan to go traveling to Korea during school vacation.

빵을 맛있게 구우려고 했는데 실패했어요. – I tried to bake a delicious bread (but failed).

커피를 컵에 부으려고 했는데 다 쏟았어요. – I was trying to pour the coffee into the cup, but I spilled it all.

*붓다 + (으)려고 하다 > 부으려고 …

제 친구 선물로 목걸이를 [만들려고 해요 / 만들려고요.] – I’m planning to make a necklace for my friend’s birthday gift. 

음악을 들으려고 했는데 헤드폰이 고장이났어요. – I was going to listen to music, but my headphones broke.

고장이 나다: to break, malfunction 

바닥에 떨어진 지갑을 직접 주우려고 했는데 제가 좀 뻣뻣해요. 좀 도와줄래요? – I tried to pick up the wallet fallen on the floor myself, but I’m too stiff. Can you help me?

안 그래도 저도 전화하려고 했어요. 무슨 일이에요? – I was about to call you too. What’s up?

새 컴퓨터를 [사려고 해요 / 사려고요.] – I’m planning to buy a new computer.


Other Similar Expressions:

Verb ~/ 계획이다 (literally, to be a plan to verb) : to plan to verb
계획: plan

Used when you talk about your plan or share plan details in a more specific way, or in a more serious/formal setting.

e.g. 여름에 한국에 여행갈 계획이에요. – I’m planning to go to Korea during the summer.


Verb ~ㄹ/을예정이다 (literally, to be a schedule to verb) : to plan/be expected to verb
예정: something that is expected/scheduled to happen

오늘 아침에 라이브 수업을 하려고 해요
= 오늘 아침에 라이브 수업을 할 계획이에요
= 오늘 아침에 라이브 수업을 할 예정이에요.
– I’m going ta do a live class.

All these expressions are interchangeable, but Verb ~ㄹ/을 계획이다 and Verb ~ㄹ/을 예정이다 sound a bit more formal or serious.


[Quick Summary]

Verb ~()려고 : a clause connector that is used in the middle of a sentence which can be used only with verbs; in order to Verb

Verb ~()려고 하다: sentence ending with different meanings

Verb ~()려고 하다 meanings:

  1. To plan to (going to) – usually used with first person subject and conjugated in present tense
  2. To be about to –  usually used with first person subject and conjugated in all tenses
    (으)려고 해요 can be contracted to (으)려고요. 
  3. To try to Verb – can be used with all subjects and conjugated in all tenses
    In this case, (으)려고 해요 cannot be contracted to (으)려고요.