Wild Nihongo!


~たい Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Adjective

Essential Meaning: Want to do X


  • Verb ます-Form + たい
    • E.g. はなしたい [I want to speak]
    • E.g. べたい [I want to eat]


  • ~たい expresses a person’s desire to do something. Because it expresses an internal personal feeling, it is generally only used in the first person in declarative sentences (i.e. “I want to do X“) or in the second person in interrogative sentences (i.e. “Do you want to do X?“). The auxiliary verb がる is used when describing a 3rd person’s internal feelings (i.e. He / She wants to do X).
    • E.g. 寿司すしべたい。[I want to eat sushi.]
    • E.g. *ボブが寿司すしべたい。 [Bob wants to eat sushi.] It is generally unacceptable to assume a third person’s internal feelings. Instead, the auxiliary verb がる should be used.
    • E.g. ボブが寿司すしべたがっている。[Bob appears to want to eat sushi.]
  • However, ~たい CAN be used with a 3rd person subject when:
    • (1) Speaking in the past tense:
      • E.g. 一男かずおはとてもきたかった。[Kazuo really wanted to go.]
    • (2) Using indirect speech:
      • E.g. 一郎いちろうきたいとっている。[Ichiro says that he wants to go too.]
      • E.g. 利子としこ日本にほんかえりたいそうだ。 [I heard that Toshiko wants to return to Japan.]
    • (3) Giving an explanation / excuse:
      • E.g. 野村のむらさんはあなたとはなしたいんですよ。[It”s because Nomura-san wants to speak with you.]
    • (4) Making a conjecture:
      • E.g. 村山むらやまさんはのりおどりたいらしい。[It seems that Murayama-san wants to dance with Noriko.]
      • E.g. 早田はやたさんははや家族かぞくいたそうだ。[It looks like Hayata-san wants to meet his family soon.]
  • If the verb that precedes ~たい is transitive, the direct object is usually marked by either or depending on the level of desire. indicates a high level of desire, while indicates a lower level of desire
    • E.g. わたしみずみたい。[I want to drink water.] indicates a high level of desire for water.
    • E.g. わたしみずみたい。[I want to drink water.] indicates a normal / low level of desire for water.
  • However, cannot be used with ~たい in the following situations:
    • (1) The verb and direct object are far apart:
      • E.g. わたしみずかけるまえみたい。[I want to drink water before I go out.] In this sentence, the main verb (i.e. む) and the direct object (i.e. みず) are far apart. Thus, would be inappropriate.
    • (2) The main verb is passive:
      • E.g. わたし先生せんせいにこのをほめられたい。[I want to have this picture praised by my teacher.]
    • (3) The noun that precedes Verb ます-Form + たい is not the direct object:
      • E.g. わたしはやくこの電車でんしゃりたい。[I want to get off this train quickly.] りる [To descend] is an intransitive verb. Thus, 電車でんしゃ is not a direct object in this sentence, but rather an originating point from which the movement begins. would be inappropriate in this sentence.
      • E.g. わたし公園こうえんあるきたい。[I want to walk through this park.] あるく [To walk] is also intransitive, so 公園こうえん cannot be a direct object. It is just the physical space through which the walking takes place.
    • (4) When using the auxiliary verb がる:
      • E.g. 三木みきさんはくるまいたがっている。[Miki-san appears to want to buy a car.]
  • ~たい cannot be used to express an invitation. Instead, a negative question can be used.
    • E.g. わたし一緒いっしょきませんか。[Shall we go together?] This example extends an invitation with a negative question.
    • E.g. *わたし一緒いっしょきたいですか。[Do you want to go with me?] It is unacceptable to use ~たい to convey an invitation, even though it may sound natural in English.
    • E.g. *明日あした食事しょくじにきたいですか。 [Do you want to have a meal together tomorrow?] It is unacceptable to use ~たい to convey an invitation, even though it may sound natural in English.
  • When the speaker wants some THING, しい is used. When the speaker wants someone to do something, しい is used.

Example Sentences:

わたし日本にほんきたいです。[I want to go to Japan.]

ぼくいまピザをべたい。[I want to eat pizza now.]

鈴木すずきさんはアメリカへきたがっている。[Suzuki-san appears to want to go to America.]

ぼくつめたいビルがみたい。[I want to drink a cold beer.]

今日きょうなにべたいですか。[What do you want to eat today?]

三木みきさんはくるまいたがっている。[Miki-san appears to want to buy a car.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:02, listen for this line: 友達ともだちよりはやくエッチをしたいけどキスからさきすすめない [I want to have sex before my friends do, but I’m unable to go further than a kiss.] The basic idea of this song is that the girls are curious about sex, but they decide that it’s a waste to give away their virginities without first giving away their hearts.
The chorus of this song begins as follows: りたい, おしえて, たこともない世界せかい [I want to know, please teach me, about the world that I haven’t even seen]. Another example occurs at 1:16 with this line: いつもそばにいたい [I want to always be by your side]
At 0:32, listen for this line: 人間にんげんなりたい [I want to become a human, you know!]
This song is called はたらきたくない [I don’t want to work]
Listen to this line at 2:40: ぼくてきたすべてをはなしてかせたい [I want to tell tell you about all the things that I kept on seeing]
Listen for this line at 2:53: かがやいていたい、もうめたな [I want to shine, I’ve already decided]
Listen to this line from 5:16: 家族かぞく一人ひとりなりたいわたしいぬなりたい [I want to become part of a family, I want to become a dog]

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