427 - ~たい

Let's start by listing the verbs we'll look at in this lesson.

Dictionary Forms:
食べる(たべる // to eat
見る(みる // to see; to look at; to watch

行く(いく // to go
住む(すむ // to live [in a place]
飼う(かう // to keep [a pet]; to raise [a pet]

結婚する(けっこんする // to marry

You may remember how to conjugate ichidan verbs (like 食べる), godan verbs (like 行く and 住む), and する verbs (like 結婚する) into their masu-form, since we just did this in the last N5 lesson.

Maybe give yourself a chance to try conjugating those verbs now, then I'll show you the masu-form conjugations below...


🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉

🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉

🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉

🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉

🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉

🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉


Masu-Forms:
食べます(たべます // eat
見ます(みます // watch; look at; see

行きます(いきます // go
住みます(すみます // live [in a place]
飼います(かいます // keep [a pet]; raise [a pet]

結婚します(けっこんします // marry


You may have already guessed this, but your next task is to just think of the masu-stems of these verbs.

This time you only get a tiny thinking space.


🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉

Hint: Remove ~ます!

🐉 ❢ Thinking Space ❢ 🐉


Masu-Stems:
食べ-(たべ-
見-(み-

行き-(いき-
住み-(すみ-
飼い-(かい-

結婚し-(けっこんし-

You are so, so, so ready for this lesson now:



JLPT N5: ~たい (want to ~)

Depending on the person, this can be one of the more difficult N5 grammar points to learn, since it is a bit unique.

But it's also so incredibly common that you'll get used to it from exposure over time naturally.


The simple version:

Attach ~たい to the masu-stem of a verb to say "want to VERB."

We already have our verbs:
食べる(たべる // to eat
見る(みる // to see; to look at; to watch
行く(いく // to go
住む(すむ // to live [in a place]
飼う(かう // to keep [a pet]; to raise [a pet]
結婚する(けっこんする // to marry


And their masu-forms:
食べます(たべます // eat
見ます(みます // watch; look at; see
行きます(いきます // go
住みます(すみます // live [in a place]
飼います(かいます // keep [a pet]; raise [a pet]
結婚します(けっこんします // marry


And their masu-stems:
食べ-たべ-
見-み-
行き-いき-
住み-すみ-
飼い-かい-
結婚し-けっこんし-


...to which we attach ~たい
食べたいたべたい // want to eat
たいみたい // want to see; want to watch
行きたいいきたい // want to go
住みたいすみたい // want to live [in a place]
飼いたいかいたい // want to keep [a pet]
結婚たいけっこんしたい // want to get married



The somewhat tricky part about ~たい

...is that it conjugates like an i-adjective.

That is to say, in a casual sentence it can be the last unit in the sentence:

トム・クルーズと結婚たい
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したい。
I want to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + want to do.”


And in a formal sentence, we add です, just like with i-adjectives:

トム・クルーズと結婚たいです。
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したい です。
I want to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + want to do + です.”


Makes sense, yeah?

If so, tell me this: How do we say "don't want to VERB?"

Well, since ~たい is conjugated like an i-adjective, the first thing we should probably do is recall how to make i-adjectives negative.



Here are three common i-adjectives:

大きい(おおきい // big
悲しい(かなしい // sad
忙しい(いそがしい // busy

In casual sentences, i-adjective can come at the very end, yeah? In fact, they can form the whole sentence if we have the context (which we're making up in the following sentences):

大きい。
おおきい。
It's big.
Literally: "big."

悲しい。
かなしい。
I'm sad.
Literally: "sad."

忙しい。
いそがしい。
I'm busy.
Literally: "busy."


Note that these sentence are all casual.

If we want to be more formal, the i-adjectives would need to be followed by です (just like we saw above with ~たいです):

大きいです。
おおきい です。
It's big.
Literally: "big + です."

悲しいです。
かなしい です。
I'm sad.
Literally: "sad + です."

忙しいです。
いそがしい です。
I'm busy.
Literally: "busy + です."

OK. With me so far?



Now let's put on our negativity hats. To do that we remove the い and replace it with "~く+ない":

大きくない。
おおきくない。
It's not big.
Literally: "not big."

大きくないです。
おおきくない です。
It's not big.
Literally: "not big + です."

悲しくない。
かなしくない。
I'm not sad.
Literally: "not sad."

悲しくないです。
かなしくない です。
I'm not sad.
Literally: "not sad + です."

忙しくない。
いそがしくない。
I'm not busy.
Literally: "not busy."

忙しくないです。
いそがしくない です。
I'm not busy.
Literally: "not busy + です."


With all that, maybe you're now ready to say "don't want to VERB."



We already saw "I want to marry Tom Cruise," right?

So how do we say "I don't want to marry Tom Cruise?" That'd be:

トム・クルーズと結婚たくない
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したくない。
I don't want to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + don't want to do.”


And more formally:

トム・クルーズと結婚たくないです。
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したくない です。
I don't want to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + don't want to do + です.”


What about past tense?!

Again, it's the same as our i-adjectives:

大きかった。
おおきかった。
It was big.
Literally: "was big."

大きかったです。
おおきかった です。
It was big.
Literally: "was big + です."

大きくなかった。
おおきく なかった。
It wasn't big.
Literally: "wasn't big."

大きくなかったです。
おおきくなかった です。
It wasn't big.
Literally: "wasn't big + です."

悲しかった。
かなしかった。
I was sad.
Literally: "was sad."

悲しかったです。
かなしかった です。
I was sad.
Literally: "was sad + です."

悲しくなかった。
かなしくなかった。
I wasn't sad.
Literally: "wasn't sad."

悲しくなかったです。
かなしくなかった です。
I wasn't sad.
Literally: "wasn't sad + です."

忙しかった。
いそがしかった。
I was busy.
Literally: "was busy."

忙しかったです。
いそがしかった です。
I was busy.
Literally: "was busy + です."

忙しくなかった。
いそがしくなかった。
I wasn't busy.
Literally: "wasn't busy."

忙しくなかったです。
いそがしくなかった です。
I wasn't busy.
Literally: "wasn't busy + です."

トム・クルーズと結婚たかった
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したかった。
I wanted to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + wanted to do.”

トム・クルーズと結婚たかったです。
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したかった です。
I wanted to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + wanted to do + です.”

トム・クルーズと結婚たくなかった
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したくなかった。
I didn't want to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + didn't want to do.”

トム・クルーズと結婚たくなかったです。
トム・クルーズ と けっこん したくなかった です。
I didn't want to marry Tom Cruise.
Literally: “Tom Cruise + と + marriage + didn't want to do + です.”


Too many conjugations.

Make it stop! Make it stop!

If you're feeling exhausted by all of this conjugating... uh... that sucks...

Hang in there, and so on. We're almost done...



日本のどこに住みたいの?
にほん の どこ に すみたい の?
What part of Japan do you want to live in?
Literally: “Japan + の + where + に + want to live + の?”


This sentence makes sense, yeah?

住む (すむ // to live)
→ 住みます (すみます // live)
→ → 住みたい (すみたい // want to live)

Also, note that it is OK to ask someone "do you want to VERB," as we see in the sentence above.

However, strictly speaking, you should NOT use ~たい in questions addressed to "social superiors" like teachers, bosses, etc.


For example, the following sentence is not recommended:

△ 先生、何がたいですか。
△ せんせい、 なに が みたい ですか。
△ What do you want to watch?
Literally: “teacher, + what + が + want to see + ですか.”


Here is a preferable (& super-formal) alternative:

〇 先生、何をご覧になりますか。
〇 せんせい、 なに を ごらん に なりますか。
〇 What would you like to watch?
Literally: “teacher, + what + を + (honorably) watch (=viewing + に + become) + か.”


Personally, I've been a bit lazy about paying attention to small things like this, but if you really want to have native-like Japanese, then mastering subtle usages and levels of formality is a must. Bummer, right? Sigh.



久しぶりにお母さんの手料理が食べたいなあ。
ひさしぶりに おかあさん の てりょうり が たべたい なあ。
It’d be nice to eat my mom’s cooking again.
Literally: “for the first time in a long while + mother + の + homemade cooking + が + want to eat + なあ.”
Note: The nuance of this sentence is largely lost in translation. The literal breakdown may help.


This has been mentioned in several other NDLs, but ending a sentence with なあ can give off the nuance of the speaker longing for something. We saw many examples of this in the following lesson: [NDL #223] - Still hoping...

食べる (たべる // to eat)
→ 食べます (たべます // eat)
→ → 食べたい (たべたい // want to eat)



Now, a sentence with "don't want to VERB:"

父は病院に行きたくないと言っています。
ちち は びょういん に いきたくない と いっています。
My father says that he doesn’t want to go to the hospital.
Literally: “father / dad + は + hospital + に + does not want to go + と + is saying.”


Please take a moment to congratulate yourself for reading this far.

This is a long lesson with far too many conjugations.

As such, please allow me to apologize in advance for the following.


Although we can use ~たい in questions addressed to others (who are not high-level "social superiors), we CANNOT use ~たい to describe what a third party wants to do.

Wait a second. Didn't we see a sentence with a third-party ~たい? This one:

父は病院に行きたくないと言っています。
ちち は びょういん に いきたくない と いっています。
My father says that he doesn’t want to go to the hospital.
Literally: “father / dad + は + hospital + に + does not want to go + と + is saying.”


Not quite. The key here is the end of the sentence: ~と言っています, "is saying."

In other words, this sentence is quoting what the speaker's father said. The speaker is not attempting to infer what his or her father was feeling, which is a no-no. (How dare you assume what another person is feeling, you scoundrel!)

So what do we do when we have inferred that someone probably "doesn't want to VERB" without using ~たい?

Well... it's complicated. Because technically we would need N4 grammar, like ~そうだ:

父は病院に行きたくなさそうです。
ちち は びょういん に いきたくなさそう です。
My father doesn't seem to want to go to the hospital.
Literally: “father / dad + は + hospital + に + does not seem to want to go + です.”


Yikes.

If that's still too hard, don't fret it. It won't be on the N5 test. Also, we'll have an N4 lesson in it in the future.



The following option for saying that someone "seems to want to VERB" will also not appear on N5, although we will be covering it in a future N4 lesson: ~がる.

~たい → ~たがる
wants to ~ → seems to want to ~


Here's an example:

ブルドッグの子犬を飼い始めました。
ブルドッグ の こいぬ を かい はじめました。
We got a bulldog puppy.
Literally: “bulldog + の + puppy + を + started to keep / raise.”

わたしはあまりペットを飼いたくなかったんですが、彼女が飼いたがっていたのでプレゼントしたんです。
わたし は あまり ペット を かいたくなかった んですが、 かのじょ が かいたがっていた ので プレゼント した んです。
I didn’t really want a pet, but my girlfriend did (seem to want one), so I got it for her as a present.
Literally: “I + は + not really + pet + を + did not want to raise / keep + です + が (=but), + girlfriend (=she) + が + had seemed to want to keep (a pet) + ので (=because) + present + did + んです.”


Too complicated? No worries. We're cover all of this in more detail in the future.

I just wanted to be sure to warn you that we cannot use ~たい when inferring the wants of a third party, while also giving a preview of how we can do that.



Sorry for the long lesson. But I really wanted to give extra attention to this grammar topic because mastering ~たい marks one of the significant "fluency jumps" that occur during JLPT N5 studies.

If parts of this lesson were too complicated, then I recommend either re-reading it or coming back to it in the future when you've gotten a bit more Japanese into your brain. ^^




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