Expressing likes, dislikes, and wants


Communicating preferences and desires is a crucial part of daily interaction in any language.

In Japanese, this involves specific patterns that can vary in complexity and subtlety.

This extended guide covers not only the basics but also introduces additional expressions and nuances to help you convey your feelings more precisely.

Expressing Likes

“好き” (suki) is a versatile term used to express likes or love towards people, activities, or objects.

  • Example : “私は猫が好きです。” (Watashi wa neko ga suki desu. – I like cats.)

To emphasize the degree of liking, you can use “とても” (totemo, very) or “大好き” (daisuki, really love).

  • Example : “私はとても音楽が好きです。” (Watashi wa totemo ongaku ga suki desu. – I really like music.)

Expressing Dislikes

To express dislike or aversion, “嫌い” (kirai), meaning “dislike” or “hate,” is used. It’s similarly structured to “好きです.”

  • Example : “辛いものが嫌いです。” (Karai mono ga kirai desu. – I dislike spicy food.)

Besides “あまり”, using “それほど…ない” (sore hodo…nai, not so much) can also soften the expression.

  • Example : “私はそれほど辛いものが好きではありません。” (Watashi wa sore hodo karai mono ga suki dewa arimasen. – I don’t like spicy food that much.)

Expressing Wants

When wanting an object or desiring something tangible, “ほしい” (hoshii), meaning “want,” is applied.

Example: “新しい車がほしいです。” (Atarashii kuruma ga hoshii desu. – I want a new car.)

For actions or experiences, use the verb “したい” (shitai) from “する” (suru), meaning “to do.”

Example: “旅行がしたいです。” (Ryokou ga shitai desu. – I want to travel.)

Advanced Guide to 「ほしい」

In Japanese, when desiring objects or tangible things, “ほしい” (hoshii) is used, as mentioned in the previous section.

Although “want” is often thought of as a verb, “ほしい” is not a verb but an adjective.

Adjectives have the function of describing attributes or states, and “ほしい” in Japanese expresses the state of the subject desiring a specific object or outcome.

Among adjectives, “ほしい” is categorized as an “い-adjective” (i-adjective).

Therefore, it naturally conjugates according to the rules of “い-adjectives.”

This emphasizes the grammatical role of “ほしい” in articulating desires, adhering to the specific conjugation patterns that define “い-adjectives” in the language.

Conjugation Examples:

  • Negative Form: To express not wanting something, “ほしい” becomes “ほしくない” (hoshikunai).
    • Example: “コーヒーがほしくないです。” (Koohii ga hoshikunai desu. – I don’t want coffee.)
  • Past Positive Form: To express having wanted something, “ほしい” turns into “ほしかった” (hoshikatta).
    • Example: “子供の頃、犬がほしかった。” (Kodomo no koro, inu ga hoshikatta. – When I was a child, I wanted a dog.)
  • Past Negative Form: To say you did not want something, “ほしい” changes to “ほしくなかった” (hoshikunakatta).
    • Example: “その時は、何もほしくなかったです。” (Sono toki wa, nani mo hoshikunakatta desu. – I didn’t want anything at that time.)

Advanced Expressions

Increasing Politeness:

“がほしいです” can be made more polite as “をお願いします” (o onegaishimasu) when requesting something.

This expression is often used when ordering in a restaurant and cafe.

  • Example: “コーヒーをお願いします。” (Koohii o onegaishimasu. – I would like a coffee, please.)

Clarifying Dislikes:

To be more explicit about dislikes, “が苦手です” (ga nigate desu, not good at/not fond of) can express difficulty or a lesser preference without strong negativity.

  • Example: “高いところが苦手です。” (Takai tokoro ga nigate desu. – I’m not good with heights.)

Emphasizing Wants:

To emphasize a strong desire or need, “〜が必要です” (〜ga hitsuyou desu, is necessary) can be used.

  • Example: “新しい仕事が必要です。” (Atarashii shigoto ga hitsuyou desu. – I need a new job.)


Mastering these basic sentence patterns for expressing likes, dislikes, and wants in Japanese not only enhances your ability to share personal preferences but also deepens your engagement in conversations.

By practicing these structures, you’ll develop a more nuanced understanding of Japanese communication styles, particularly in navigating the subtleties of expressing personal feelings and desires.