"I want something to drink."
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~ほしい expresses your own desire for some object, intangible outcome to someone else. 3 keywords: Your own desire, object, and a listener
~ stem of ます + たい form means you or someone else like to do some action. 2 Keywords: you / others, and action
I like to have [ some ] tea OR I want [ some ] tea
こうちゃをのみたいです I want to drink tea
車がほしいです I like to have a car OR I want a car
車を運転したいです I want to drive a car
Note: ~ほしい can only be used by you to describe yourself, it cannot be used to describe any 2nd person, as it will need a different grammar structure
Stem of ます + たい form can be used either way for yourself to describe yourself, or others, or the other way round, does not need any special grammar
I think by default it refers to things that you drink as a beverage for the sake of quenching thirst or enjoyment. Be it water, or a soda or juice or alcohol.
I don't think you'd use it for things like gasoline for example, because it's not something you're supposed to drink, even if you technically can.
Like I think you could use it for gasoline in certain contexts. Like "he asked for a drink and got gasoline" or "gasoline made for the perfect drink for an Autobot" or something along those lines.
I know you can say stuff like: "I drank the medicine", but I don't think you'd call the medicine "a drink". A 飲み物. I think it would still be called medicine, even if it's a liquid you're meant to drink.
I think it should work fairly similarly to the English word. If you can refer to something as a "drink" in English, you can probably use 飲み物 for it in Japanese.
I don't think they forgot so much as they probably translated it the other way around first.
The initial sentence was probably in Japanese - 飲み物がほしい. And the translation for that would be: "I want something to drink".
Then they probably just switched the lesson to have the English sentence that you translate into Japanese. And in such a case, suddenly there are more options.
Duo has mistranslated this, the closest sentence would be "I like to have something to drink", since "I like to have a drink" in some cultures or social environments, it would mean you want an alcoholic drink like wine or beer.
Saying "I want ~" may mean similarly, but does not convey the original Japanese meaning of the unspoken understanding that the listener has the option of denying the speaker's request for whatever reason [ politely, of course ] and the speaker himself is mentally ready to have his request denied without hard feelings on both sides
Deciding which particle to highlight is never completely interchangeable. It always carries a certain degree of change to the focus of the sentence or it can even change the meaning.
In this case I think either could be used, but が makes it a more natural statement that you'd make. は which would highlight the topic would make it sound more like you're answering a question or speaking in some other context.
To help with this, you need to understand that Japanese does not at all function on the same level as English. This sentence is a perfect example of why. To start, "飲み物が欲しいです" DOES directly translate to "I want a drink", but that's not the only way it can be properly interpreted as. What separates English from Japanese is that while English has many complex ways of describing something while still sounding natural, descriptions in Japanese are very simple and ambiguous (Open to many interpretations). For example, you could say in English, "I want to drink something", "I want something to drink", "I want a drink", "I want drinks", "I want to drink", etc., which are all differently worded ways to describe wanting a drink that could be perfectly summed up as "飲み物が欲しいです" in Japanese. You could say "何かを飲みたいです" to say "I want to drink something" or "I want something to drink", but that is completely uneccesary, because things in Japanese don't need literal translations to sound natural. In fact, English-to-Japanese literal translations could sound the complete opposite. "I want something to drink" is literally translated as "飲む何かが欲しいです", but who would say that? That doesn't sound natural at all in Japanese, though it makes perfect sense in English. So all in all, this is not a mistranslation, despite what some people might be saying. It's just a common way to say you want something to drink without directly describing every little detail in the expression like in English, like saying "THE drink" as opposed to "A drink".
欲しい is an adjective and 飲み物 is a subject. を is for marking objects that a verb action is being done to.
So there's really no room for a を here with the words we're working with.
This is where English translations can screw with us 欲しい is often translated as "want", but it's not a verb like it's in English. We're not doing "欲しい" to something. It's more like the thing we're talking about - the drink - is wanted, by us. It's described as being in a state where it's desired.