How to say you want something in Japanese

Learn once and for all to how to say you want something in japanese!
How to say you want something in Japanese

In the Japanese language, there is a difference between saying that you want to do something and that you simply want something.

How to say you want something in Japanese

In the previous article, we learned how to form たい of Japanese verbs to say that we want to perform an action. In today's article, we are going to learn how to use the word 欲しい, which is used when we want or need something.

Hover over Japanese symbols to see kanji pronunciation and translation.

An interesting thing is that according to the dictionary, 欲しい can be translated as an adjective, verb or noun, and all these grammatical forms convey the idea of desire, greed, ambition and so on.

the verb tenses of 欲しい

Because it's translated in several different ways, I can't tell if it's an adjective, noun, or verb. The only things I know is that it will be translated as a verb in today's article and its conjugation will be the same as that of the Japanese adjectives ending in .

the present tense affirmative

In the present tense in the affirmative, 欲しい is used in its most primary form, using the at the end of the word and appearing at the end of sentences.





See too:
fast japanese course!
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the present negative tense

To put 欲しい in the past, just change the ending  by the etension くない.

In this way 欲しい will come 欲しくない.





past tense affirmative

In this tense of Japanese verbs, we change the ending  in 欲しい per かった.

So, 欲しい will come 欲しかった.





past negative tense

The negative past tense is formed by changing the ending  in 欲しい per くなかった.

Thus, 欲しい will come 欲しくなかった.





欲しい and the form 

There is a Japanese sentence construction pattern that uses a action verb in the form  along with the word 欲しい.

This junction of terms conveys the idea that “you want something to do something”, creating a new form of imperative.

Also, this sentence construction should not be used with all people. It is usually used when the speaker is or feels superior, such as a manager talking to his subordinates.




If you've noticed, the pattern for building this type of sentence is always subject +  + something +  + somebody +  + verb in form  + 欲しいです.

Furthermore, the subject +  and です are optional.

Last thoughts

While studying, I found some peculiarities about the use of 欲しいrelating to formality and proper placement within a sentence.

です at the end of sentences is optional, having no translation and serving only to add more formality to the sentence.

when to use 欲しい within a sentence, be careful not to use the object particle . Instead of , it is much more common to use the particle , although it is sometimes possible to find the particle  instead of  and .


Image credits belong to El Fotopakismo.

Kanji calligraphy exercise

Below are the Japanese ideographic symbols used in this article. Selecting the desired kanji, copy and paste them into Worksheet for Kana and Kanji Practice , a new window will open where you can view the printable file and practice Japanese calligraphy by covering the gray symbols and then trying to write yourself. Just print and practice.