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Verb Ending: ~것 같아요 vs ~다고/라고 생각해요

learning korean Apr 19, 2024
Verb endings ~거 같다 vs 다고/라고 생각하다

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team

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~것 같다 / 거 같다
~다고/라고 생각하다
Comparing ~것 같다 and ~다고/라고 생각하다


I think… I guess… In my opinion…


We often use these phrases in English when we express our thoughts about something. Similarly, in Korean, we have verb endings to indicate what we think about something or what something seems like to us. The verb endings are ~것 같아요 and ~다고/라고 생각해요.


You may wonder, “What is the difference between these two?” Shall we first learn the meanings and usages of these two verb endings?


~것 같다 / 거 같다


This grammar pattern is a common verb ending in daily conversations. 같다 means 'to be the same', 'to be like', 'to look like', or 'to seem to be.' Therefore, ~것 같다 is equivalent to something seems like, I think something is, or something appears to be like to in English. 


We use ~것 같다 to make a guess or express an uncertain statement, supposition, or prediction when something seems to be like in a way that might be occurring, may have occurred, or may occur in the future. ~것 같다 gives a weak and soft guess, which sometimes sounds more polite than making a daring assumption.


Please note that ~것 같다 is often spoken and written as ~거 같다. These two are the same, and there is no difference in usage. It is also worth noting that it is common for native Koreans to pronounce 겉아(요) as 같애(요).


First, let us see how we use ~것 같다 in a sentence. To use this verb ending, we have to modify the action verb into a noun by adding ㄴ, 은, or 는 것.

How do we know which modifier to use? We decide which modifier to be used based on the tenses of the sentence. As we can use this verb ending in all tenses, we conjugate ~것 같다 according to the following rules:

눈이 오는 것 같아요. 
I think it is snowing.

눈이 온 것 같아요. 
I think it snowed.

눈이 올 것 같아요.
I think it will snow.

*눈: snow
*오다: to come


Let’s take a look at more example sentences.


진 선생님이 지금 라이브 수업을 하고 있는 것 같아요.
I think Teacher Jin is having a live lesson now.
(It seems like Teacher Jin is having a live lesson now.)
*선생님: teacher
*지금: now
*라이브 수업: live lesson
*하고 있다: to be doing, to be having


쿤 씨가 영화를 본 것 같아요.
I think Kun watched a movie.
(It seems like Kun watched a movie.)
*영화: movie
*보다: to watch, to see


카탈린은 김치찌개를 먹은 것 같아요.
I think Katalin ate kimchi stew.
(It seems like Katalin ate kimchi stew.)
*김치찌개: kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)
*먹다: to eat


저는 내년에 한국에 갈 것 같아요.
I think I will go to Korea next year.
(I’m not sure yet, but I think I will go to Korea next year.)
*저: I, me
*내년: next year
*한국: Korea
*가다: to go


~다고/라고 생각하다


Now, let us see what ~다고/라고 생각하다 means.


In Korean, 생각하다 means “to think.” Therefore, ~다고/라고 생각하다 is used to express an opinion that you are certain about. ~다고/라고 생각하다 describes what you think of something or your thoughts and opinions on something. 


You may wonder, when do we use ~다고 생각하다 and ~라고 생각하다? Generally, when you are talking about a noun, you would attach ~라고 생각하다, and for verbs and adjectives, you use ~다고 생각하다.

Example sentences:


그 책이 좋다고 생각해요? (adjective)
Do you think that book is good?
*그: that
*책: book
*좋다: to be good


엄마는 오빠가 그 일로 많은 것을 배웠다고 생각해요. (verb)
Mum thinks my brother learned a lot from that incident.
*엄마: Mum
*오빠: older brother (for female)
*그: that
*일: incident, event, work
*많다: to be a lot
*것: thing
*배우다: to learn 


저는 이 아이가 효자라고 생각해요. (noun)
I think this boy is a good son (to his parent). 
*저: I, me
*이: this
*아이: child 
*효자: devoted, filial, dutiful, good son


팀장님은 프로젝트가 성공할 것이라고 생각합니다. (noun)
The Team Leader thinks the project will be successful.
*팀장님: Team Leader
*프로젝트: project
*성공하다: to be successful
*성공할 것: future tense noun group of 'successful'


Comparing ~것 같다 and ~다고/라고 생각하다


We have now learned both the meaning and usages of ~것 같아요 and ~다고/라고 생각해요. So, what are the differences?


Generally, we use ~것 같아요 when we are making a rough guess or assumption based on supposition or predictions without concrete evidence. On the other hand, we use ~다고/라고 생각해요 when we are expressing opinions that we are certain about.


Let us compare these sentences for a clearer context:

저는 아픈 것 같아요. (O)
제가 아프다고 생각해요. (X)
I think I am sick.
*저: I, me
아프다: to be sick

For these two sentences, we would use ~것 같아요 because being sick is how you actually feel, and it is not your opinion.


비가 오지 않을 것 같아요. (O)
비가 오지 않을 거라고 생각해요. (O)
I don’t think it will rain.
*비: rain
*오다: to come
*지 않다: to not~

Both these sentences are acceptable. The first sentence may be what you think by looking at the sky. The clear sky seems like it will not rain. On the other hand, the second sentence may be your opinion based on analyzing process with weather data. It is something you are sure of because of the information you have.


In conclusion, it is safe to say ~것 같다 means “I think” based on assumption and supposition because something seems like it, while ~다고/라고 생각하다 means “I think” based on your strong opinion of something you are certain about. I hope the above explanations and example sentences help you understand the differences better!


- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team