Indicating intent— ~(으)러 and ~(으)려고

Sometimes we need to indicate our intent or reason for doing something. In those cases, there are two forms we can choose from, ~(으)러 and ~(으)려고. Let’s see how to decide which one to choose, and how to use them both!


is a grammatical form used to show the intent or reason for doing something, but only before a movement verb; that is, a verb like 가다, 오다, or any of their variants that indicate moving in some direction. You can think of -(으)러 as roughly translating to “for the purpose of X,” with X being whatever the action verb that comes before it. Let’s look at the original sentences:

  • 여행하러 왔어요. -> 여행하다 + -(으)러 + 오다 + 았어요 (past tense): This sentence means “I came for the purpose of traveling/vacationing,” or more naturally, “I came here on holiday.”
  • 공부하러 왔어요. -> 공부하다 + -(으)러 + 오다 + 았어요: This sentence means “I came for the purpose of studying,” or more naturally, “I came to study.

Let’s look at a few more examples using other verbs:

  • 저녁을 먹으러 나갔어요. -> 저녁 (dinner) + 을 (object particle) + 먹다 (to eat) +-(으)러 + 나가다 (to go out) + 았어요: I went out to eat dinner.
  • 친구하고 만나 갈 거예요. -> 친구 (friend) + -하고 (with) + 만나다 (to meet) + -(으)러 + 가다 (to go) + -(으)ㄹ 것이다 (”will;” future tense): I will go to meet my friend.


As we saw above, ~(으)러 can only be used when the second verb is a movement verb. If you want to use a different verb instead, you should use -(으)려고. For example:

  • 한국어를 배우려고 책을 샀어요. -> For the purpose of learning Korean, I bought a book. (I bought a book to learn Korean)
  • 따뜻한 곳에서 살려고 새 집을 찾고 있어요. -> For the purpose of living somewhere warm, I’m looking for a new house.

NOTE: 살려고 (and not 살으려고) is correct because the 으 in -(으)려고 is unnecessary when the preceding verb stem ends with ㄹ.


Happy studying~!