What’s the difference?? 있으시다 and 계시다

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Thanks to the person who asked this question! 계시다 is the honorific form of 있다… but 있으시다 is used sometimes, too! So what’s the difference? Before we get into that difference, first we have to make sure we understand 있다 itself.

있다 is a bit special in that it is both a descriptive verb (adjective, 형용사) and an action verb (동사). The definitions of each are as follows (translated from Naver Dictionary):

있다 (descriptive verb):
  • for a person, animal, object, etc. to be in a state of existence
  • for a truth or phenomenon to be in a state of actually existing
있다 (action verb):
  • for a person or animal to not leave or escape a certain place and stay there
  • for a person to continually work at the same place

Simply, we can say that 있다 as a descriptive verb means “to exist” and 있다 as an action verb means “to stay.”

Now let’s look at the two honorific forms of 있다.

 

있으시다

있으시다 is the honorific form of 있다 that should be used when 있다 is used as a descriptive verb (adjective), while 계시다 is used when 있다 is used as an action verb, as we shall see below. So, when we want to apply honorifics to 있다 while saying that something exists, we would use 있으시다.

The descriptive verb 있다 covers the meaning of 있다 that is often translated to “have” in English. For example, “저는 책이 있어요. –> I have a book (literally, ‘As for me, a book exists.’).” Also, descriptive verbs that contain 있다 (멋있다, 맛있다, etc.) also would become 있으시다 when used honorifically. Let’s look at some examples:

  • 우리 엄마는 빨간 가방이 있으셔. (My mom has a red bag.)
    • NOTE: The honorific -(으)시 infix in 있다 to make 있으시다 follows normal conjugation rules when used with the low-formality conjugation 해체/반말, becoming 있으셔 as seen above.
  • 문대통령이 정말 멋있으세요. (President Moon is really cool.)
    • NOTE: The honorific -(으)시 infix in 있으시다 does NOT follow normal conjugation rules when conjugated with the mid-formality conjugation 해요체. Rather, it follows its own special rule and becomes “있으세요” as seen above.
  • 우리 아빠는 오늘 중요한 모임이 있으세요. (My dad has an important meeting today.)

계시다

계시다 is the honorific form of 있다 that should be used when 있다 is used as an action verb. That is, whenever you want to use honorifics while stating that someone or something is staying in a certain place, you would use 계시다. You would also use 계시다 for grammatical constructs that use 있다, such as the progressive -고 있다.

  • 엄마는 집에 계세요. (Mom is at home.)
  • 할머니는 지금 쉬고 계세요. (Grandma is resting now.)
  • 안녕히 계세요. (Goodbye. [LIT- Stay peacefully.])

 

That’s all for 있으시다 and 계시다! Just remember to check if your 있다 is the descriptive verb 있다 or the action verb 있다 before applying your honorifics and you won’t go wrong!

Happy studying, everyone~