How to Say You Want Something in Japanese (Sentence Patterns #6)

Updated: Apr 13, 2021


 

To express that you want something in Japanese, say the thing you want and then say が欲しい (ga hoshii).


Saying that you want to do something involves conjugating the verb that describes the activity that you want to do (remove ます from the verb’s polite form and replace it with たい).


Both 欲しい and the -たい form of verbs conjugate as -i adjectives.


 

Sentence Structure #1

私は [Noun] が欲しいです。

わたしは [Noun] がほしいです。

Watashi wa [Noun] ga hoshii desu.


I want [noun].



The trickiest part about this sentence pattern lies in the fact that “want” is a verb in English but an adjective in Japanese. Therefore, you might be tempted to use the particle を before 欲しい. However, because を must be followed by a verb, this would result in an ungrammatical sentence.


This is similar to the adjective 好き (like), which also denotes an object of desire. (Click here for my lesson notes on expressing likes and dislikes.)



Example


私は新しいテレビが欲しいです。

わたしはあたらしいテレビがほしいです。

Watashi wa atarashii terebi ga hoshii desu.


I want a new TV.



Additional Sentence Structures (Negative and Past Forms of 欲しい)

[Noun] が欲しかったです。

[Noun] がほしかったです。

[Noun] ga hoshikatta desu.


I wanted a [noun].



[Noun] が欲しくないです。

[Noun] がほしくないです。

[Noun] ga hoshikunai.


I don’t want a [noun].



[Noun] が欲しくなかったです。

[Noun] がほしくなかったです。

[Noun] ga hoshikunakatta desu.


I didn’t want a [noun].



欲しい is an -I adjective. Therefore, if you know your -i adjective conjugations, you can convert sentences into their past tense and/or negative forms.



Examples


ラーメンが欲しかったです。

ラーメンがほしいかったです。

Ramen ga hoshikatta desu.


I wanted ramen.



誕生日会にたくさんの人が欲しくないです。

たんじょうびかいにたくさんのひとがほしくないです。

Tanjoubikai ni takusan no hito ga hoshikunai desu.


I don’t want a lot of people at my birthday party.



プレゼントが欲しくなかった。

プレゼントがほしくなかった。

Purezento ga hoshikunakatta.


I didn’t want presents.



Sentence Structure #2

私は [-masu stem of a verb + たい] です。

わたしは [-masu stem of a verb + たい] です。

Watashi wa [-masu stem of a verb + tai] desu.


I want to [verb].



To express that you want to do something, you need to conjugate the verb that describes the activity you want to do. Start with the polite (-masu) form of the verb. Then remove ます from the end of the verb, which leaves you with what is called the -masu stem of that verb. Finally, add たい.


For example, the polite form of the verb “to eat” is 食べます (たべます), and so the word that describes wanting to eat is 食べたい.


When verbs are modified in this way, you may mark the object that becomes before it with either が or を.



Examples


私は枝豆が食べたいです。

わたはえだまめがたべたいです。

Watashi wa edamame ga tabetai desu.


I want to eat edamame.



今夜、映画を見たい。

こんや、えいがをみたい。

Konya, eiga o mitai.


I want to watch a movie tonight.



来年、日本に行きたいです。

らいねん、にほんにいきたいです。

Rainen, Nihon ni ikitai desu.


I want to go to Japan next year.



Additional Sentence Structures (Negative and Past Forms of [-masu stem + たい])

[-Masu stem of a verb + たかった] です。

[-Masu stem of a verb + takatta] desu.


I wanted to [verb].



[-Masu stem of a verb + たくない] です。

[-Masu stem of a verb + takunai] desu.


I don’t want to [verb].



[-Masu stem of a verb + たくなかった] です。

[-Masu stem of a verb + takunakatta] desu.


I didn’t want to [verb].



Verbs in the -たい form conjugate as -i adjectives. Therefore, as with 欲しい, if you know your -i adjective conjugations, you can convert sentences into the past tense and negative form.



Examples


お土産を買いたかったです。

おみやげがかいたかったです。

Omiyage ga kaitakatta.


I wanted to buy a souvenir.



明日、午前6時に起きたくない。

あした、ごぜんろくじにおきたくない。

Ashita, gozen rokuji ni okitakunai.


I don’t want to get up at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.



何も忘れたくなかったです。

なにもわすれたくなかったです。

Nani mo wasuretakunakatta desu.


I didn’t want to forget anything.


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