138 - Hi, I'd like to...

I find that the scariest part about using Japanese when out and about in this beautiful country is blurting out the first few words. If you're shy like me, the process might go something like this...

First, you walk into a crazy knife shop, or a custom kimono store, or... fill-in-the-blank store of your dreams.

Second, you panic silently, because you don't know how to talk to the staff.

Then third, you go home and bask in self-induced shame.

Most of us think that we need to have this incredible fluency to manage transactions like complicated purchases, contracts, etc., but in my experience you only need 1 sentence: I'm looking for blah blah blah.

As long as they know that you want a ticket to Kyoto, or a new blue kimono, or a new bank account, or a sharp, beautiful knife, then the rest of the transaction can usually be managed with lots of body language and the occasional English word or two.

I was trying to think of a formula that we could use in various situations, and this is what I (and Rei) came up with...

1) Saying you want to do something.
Note: ~たい form of a verb comes at the beginning.

2) Saying you want something.
Note: Noun comes at the beginning.

For the first one, we can say, for example:

なになに かいたい ん です けど…
I'm looking to do [something]... // I'd like to do [something]...
Literally: "something / such and such + want to buy + んですけど."
Note: なになに is a filler word. So if I wanted to buy a book, I would say 本(ほん) instead of なになに. Also, this んですけど is hard to translate. First we have the "ん(です) of explanation," which just shows that we want some help. If you only said 買いたい and stuck nothing onto the end of it, a Japanese person might sarcastically think (though I doubt they'd say) "OK, good for you." Combining んです with けど shows that we want some help buying [something]. For more on this topic, see this article.

And for the second one...

なになに ほしい んですけど…
I'm looking for something.
Literally: "something / such and such + wanting + んですけど."

You may already know this, but when you want a thing, you use 欲しい:

くるま ほしい!
I want a car!
Literally: "car + wanting!"

あたらしい パソコン ほしい!
I want a new computer!
Literally: "new + PC + wanting!"

かのじょ ほしい!
I want a girlfriend!
Literally: "girlfriend + wanting!"

But when you want to do something, you use ~たい:

ピザ たべたい!
I want to eat pizza!
Literally: "pizza + want to eat!"

I want to go!
Literally: "want to go!"

もう かえりたい!
I want to go home already!
Literally: "already + want to go home!"

↓ ↓ ↓
All we have to do when entering a store, then, is:

Add ~んですけど.
↑ ↑ ↑

Here are some more examples...

Mailing a Package

にもつ がいこくに おくりたい んですけど…
I'd like to send a package overseas.
Literally: "package + foreign country + に + want to send + んですけど…"

Getting & Cancelling a New Phone Contract

けいたい かいたい んですけど…
I'd like to get a cell phone.
Literally: "cell phone + want to buy + んですけど…"

That same sentence could also be phrased like this:

あたらしく けいやく したい んですけど…
I'd like to start a new contract.
Literally: "newly + contract + want to do + んですけど…"

けいたい かいやく したい んですけど…
I'd like to cancel my (phone) contract.
Literally: "cell phone + cancellation of contract + want to do + んですけど…"

Returning an Item

これ へんぴんしたい んですけど…
I'd like to return this item.
Literally: "this + returned goods + want to do + んですけど…"

Opening & Closing a Bank Account

こうざ ひらきたい んですけど…
I'd like to open an account.
Literally: "account + want to open + んですけど…"

こうざ かいやく したい んですけど…
I'd like to close [cancel] my account.
Literally: "account + cancellation of contract + want to do + んですけど…"

Buying a TV

テレビ ほしい んですけど…
I'm looking for a TV.
Literally: "TV + wanting + んですけど…"

The Super List for Your First Week Living in Japan

...is what you just read above. So you might want go over those a few times. ^_^

We don't have too many examples for 欲しい, because we're going look at this more in the next lesson, when we talk about wanting other people to do things.