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Japanese Lesson: Expressing Want

Japanese has many verb forms, as I'm sure you already know, and expressing both wants and needs are simply part of that cluster of verbs. In this lesson however we will simply be expressing want, both learning how to say "I want (noun)", and "I want to___"

First of all, to say "I want (noun)", it's very simple. You would simply say "_が欲しいです" ga hoshii desu or simply "_が欲しい" _ ga hoshii

An example of this would be 犬が欲しい inu ga hoshii "I wan't a dog."

To express the want to perform a verb, you simply need to conjugate the form of verb into it's ます masu or formal form, and then remove the ます and replace it with たい tai.

食べます tabemasu-To eat -----> 食べたいtabetai- Want to eat

遊びます asobimasu- To play ------>遊びたい asobitai- Want to play

たい is conjugated like an い verb, meaning that to make it negative you replace the い at the end with くない kunai, to describe it as something in the past you replace the い with かったkatta, and to make it past and negative you replace い with くなかった kunakatta'

聞きたい kikitai- Want to listen-------聞きたくないkikitakunai- Don't want to listen

行きたかった ikitakatta- Wanted to go------->行きたくなかった ikitakunakatta- Didn't want to go

Examples using -tai

ご飯を食べたい gohan o tabetai- I want to eat rice

犬は猫を食べたくない inu wa niku o tabetakunai- The dog doesn't want to eat the cat

あの人は僕らと遊びたくなかった ano hito wa bokura to asobitakunakatta- That person didn't want to play with us

こんな靴を買いたかった konna kutsu o kaitakatta- I wanted to buy shoes like these

I realize that these weren't very thorough explanations but I hope that it gave you an idea of things, and at least helped a little bit. As usual, native speakers please correct my mistakes.


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December 13, 2016



Nice, thanks.

December 13, 2016


This is awesome! You should try to make an actual course with this information! :)

December 14, 2016


If by course do you mean a tree? I've tried to submit an application, but Duo's just like 'nah'

December 14, 2016


If I were to say "gohan o tabetai" to someone, would that be informal or rude?

January 3, 2017


It depends on the context and the situation, but I as far as I know, I do not know any more polite or better way to express a desire for eating rice. And if you are a foreigner rather than a Japanese person, then you can most likely expect some leniency on it anyway. But I do remember that is how I have been taught to express my wants in Japanese, so as far I know, you its pretty safe to say it that way. Although, once again it depends when and where you say it.

January 10, 2017


This was an excellent review for me as someone who ran into this before but eventually forgot how it works. Thank you so much! :)

January 10, 2017
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