Beginner 3 > Lesson 4

Lesson 4. Verb+아/어 보다, 보이다

In today’s lesson, we’re going to learn how to combine “보다” and “보이다” with a present verb and learn how to use it in a sentence. (Verb+아/어 보다, 보이다 / auxiliary verb)

“보다” means “to look, to see, to watch”, but when combined with another verb, it has a different meaning.


  1. The first meaning: to try doing something

The first usage of the “보다” combination with a present verb, is to tell someone to try or to attempt something in order to see the result of doing so.

First, let’s look at the conjugation rule:

Verb + 아/어/여 보다

하다 (to do) > 해보다 (to try doing)

먹다 (to eat) > 먹어보다 (to try eating)

가다 (to go) > 가보다 (to try going)

만지다 (to touch) > 만져보다 (to try touching)

살다 (to live) > 살아보다 (to try living)

이 게임 재미있으니까 너도 해봐. – This game is fun, so try playing it. 

이 빵* 내가 만들었어. 먹어 봐. – I made this bread. Try (eating) it.

*the object can be put first in a sentence in order to emphasize it.

제 강아지 귀엽죠? 만져보세요. – My puppy is cute, right? Try touching (petting) it.

머리가 많이 아프면 병원에 가봐. – If you have a headache, then try going to the hospital.

미국에 살아보고 싶어요. – I want to (would like) try living in the USA.


The combination of “Verb + 아/어 보고 싶다” has the meaning of “to want to try Verb-ing” or “would like to have a chance to Verb-ing”.

Also, the adverb “한 번” is frequently used with “아/어 보다” expression to add some softness to the verb one’s trying to do.

미국에 한 번 살아보고 싶어. – I would like to have a chance to try living in the USA.


  1. The second meaning: have/haven’t tried something

The second meaning is used to talk about one’s past experiences and ask about them. The accurate translation would be “have/haven’t done something”.

Also, you have to notice that “보다” has to be conjugated to the past form to indicate the experience in the past.

Verb + 아/어 봤다

미국에 가봤어요. – I have been to the US. > 미국에 가봤어요? – Have you been to the US?

저는 한국에 두번 가봤어요. – I have been to Korea twice. > 한국에 몇 번 가봤어요? – How many times have you been to Korea?

저는 미국에 살아봤어요. – I have lived in the US before.

지금까지/여태까지 실수를 많이 해봤어요. – I have made many mistakes so far.

그 책을 읽어봤어요. – I have read this book.

저는 말을 타봤어요. – I have ridden a horse.

저는 버블티를 마셔봤어요. – I have tried bubble tea before.

저는 쟤를 봤어요. (=저는 쟤를 본 적이 있어요*)– I have seen her.

*We don’t say 봐봤어요, it is wrong; we instead say “본 적이 있어요.” We’ll learn Verb-ㄴ/은 적이 있다 (talking about the past experience) grammar in the next lesson.


  1. The third meaning: Soft Command

When you want to make your comment less strong and demanding, you can use “Present Verb + 보다 + ~(으)세요” to soften your command, suggestion or encouragement.

For example:

기다리다 (to wait) > 기다려보다

A: 아직도 사장님이 안 오시네요. – The boss hasn’t come yet.

B: 조금만 더 기다려보세요. 곧 올 거예요. – Let’s wait just a bit more. He’ll come soon.

말하다 (to say, to speak) > 말해보다

A: 지금 통화 괜찮으세요? – Is it okay if I call you now?

B: 네, 말해보세요. – Yes, do call me (tell me what you want).

앉다 (to sit) > 앉아보다

앉아보세요. – Have a seat, please.

키다 (to turn on) > 켜보다

끄다 (to turn off) > 꺼보다


불 켜봐. – Turn on the light

불 꺼봐. – Turn off the light.

열다 (to open) > 열어보다

닫다 (to close) > 닫아보다


문 열어봐. – Open the door, please.

문 닫아봐. – Close the door, please.

집에서 냄새가 나면 창문을 열어보세요. – If it smells at home, do open the window.


     4. The fourth meaning: Stay Verb-ing

Another expression is the Present Progressive combined with the “보다” verb to say somebody to keep doing something:

Verb Stem + 고 있다 + 아/어/여 보다

기다리고 있어봐. 곧 갈게. – Stay waiting, please. I will be there soon.

혼자 하고 있어봐요. 이따가 도와줄게. – Stay doing it alone. I will help you later.

먼저 먹고 있어봐. 음료수 가져 올게. – Eat it first, please. I will bring the beverage.

All the expressions above can be used without “보다”, but the verb “보다” makes the sentences softer, politer and more natural.


  1. Adjective + 아/어 보이다

The combination of the present adjective and “보이다” gives the expression “to look like Adjective”.

보이다 (to be seen, to be visible) 

First, let’s look at the conjugation rule:

Present Adjective + 보이다 (=Adjective + 아/어 보이다)


많다 (to be many, a lot) > 많아 보여(요). – It looks like a lot.

적다 (to be small (in quantity)) > 적어 보여(요). – It looks like there aren’t many.

어렵다 (to be difficult) > 한국어는 어려워 보여(요). – Korean looks difficult.

쉽다 (to be easy) > 쉬워*보여(요). – It looks easy.

*When an adjective has “ㅂ” at the end, “ㅂ” has to be deleted and then “운” added.

행복하다 (to be happy) > 행복해 보여(요). – You look happy.

슬프다 (to look sad) > 슬퍼 보여(요). – You look sad.

깨끗하다 (to be clean) / 깔끔하다 (to be neat) >
화장실이 깨끗해 보여(요). – The bathroom looks clean.  / 글씨가 깔끔해 보여요. – The handwriting looks neat.

더럽다 (to be dirty) / 지저분하다 (to be messy) >
더러워 보여요. – It looks dirty. / 지저분해 보여요. – It looks messy.

건강하다 (to be healthy) > 건강해 보이세요. > You look healthy.

피곤하다 (to be tired) > 피곤해 보이세요. 좀 쉬세요. – You look tired. Take some rest.


[Quick Summary]:

To try doing sth: Verb + 아/어/여 보다

Want to try Verb-ing / would like to have a chance to Verb-ing: Verb + 아/어 보고 싶다

Have/haven’t done sth: Verb+ 아/어 + 봤다

Soft Command: Verb +아/어 + 보다 + ~(으)세요

To stay Verb-ing: Verb Stem + 고 있다 + 아/어/여 보다

To look like Adjective: Adjective +아/어 보이다