Wild Nihongo!


ほしい Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: い-Adjective

Essential Meaning: To want

Construction: い-Adjective


  • ほしい (しい in kanji) is used to express a person’s (typically the speaker’s) desire for some object (i.e. “Person X wants object Y.”)
  • しい takes the ~は~が construction, with the person who wants something marked by and the object that is wanted marked by . (In subordinate clauses, both the person and the wanted object are marked by ).
  • Because しい expresses an internal personal feeling, it generally requires a first person subject in declarative sentences (i.e. the speaker makes a statement about what he or she likes) or a second person subject in interrogative sentences (i.e. the speaker asks a second person what they like). However, with third person subjects the auxiliary verb がる is generally used.
    • E.g. First Person Subject: わたし日本人にほんじん友達ともだちしい。[I want a Japanese friend.]
    • E.g. Second Person Subject: あなたはいまなにしいですか。[What do you want now?]
    • E.g. Third Person Subject: パムはステレオをしがっている。[Pam wants a stereo.] Because Pam is a third person subject, the auxiliary very がる is affixed. Note that the particle を (Direct Object) is paired with がる.
  • Below are a few exceptional cases in which しい can be used with a third person subject:
    • (1) In the past tense
      • E.g. マークはいいステレオがかった。[Mark wanted a new stereo.]
    • (2) In indirect speech (i.e. quoting someone or expressing hearsay)
      • E.g. ジョンもしいといっている。[John says he wants it, too.]
      • E.g. オスカーもしいそうだ。[I heard that Oscar wants it, too.]
    • (3) When providing an explanation for something or offering an excuse
      • E.g. パメラはイヤリングがしいんです。[It’s because Pamela wants earrings.]
    • (4) When expressing conjecture
      • E.g. フランシスはうで時計とけいしいらしい。[It seems that Francis wants a wristwatch.]
      • E.g. クリスは人形にんぎょうしいようだ。[It appears that Chris wants a doll.]

Example Sentences:

わたしくるましい。[I want a car.]

おとうとぼく自転車じてんしゃしがっている。[My little brother wants my bike.]

わたし日本人にほんじん友達ともだちしい。[I want a Japanese friend.]

あなたはいまなにしいですか。[What do you want now?]

パムはステレオをしがっている。[Pam wants a stereo.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line at 0:51: ねぇ、これしい?、20もあるの [Hey, do you want this? There’s as many as 20 things in here.]

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