How to Say “I Wish”/”I Want” In Japanese – Using 欲しい

Posted by on April 20, 2020 – Japanese Study
how to say I wish/I want in Japanese

Are you learning Japanese and want to know how to express sentiments like “I wish”? In learning or speaking any language, being able to express yourself and your own wishes is important for communication. For Japanese it can be difficult because it is such an ambiguous language.

If you have been studying Japanese for a little bit, you may have come across the word 欲しい (hoshii) – meaning to wish or desire. If not, that’s ok, because we are going to look at it top-to-bottom in this article.

What is 欲しい(hoshii)?

First and foremost, 欲しい is not a verb – it is actually an i-adjective. (い形容詞 – ikeiyoushi)

However, even though it is technically an adjective, it is often used to express sentiments such as “I want” or “I wish” in Japanese. The long form (polite form) is 欲しいです

Often with i-adjectives, simply adding です (desu) conjugates them to long (polite) form, which is used when speaking with strangers and people above you. So if you are expressing a wish or desire in casual speech or conversation, you can just say 欲しい (hoshii).

欲しい is a super useful word you can use in all sorts of situations to express both positive and negative wishes. Let’s start with using it for simple wishes or desires.

How to Use 欲しいです for a Wish or Desire – “I Want” In Japanese

あのカバンが欲しいです
Ano kaban ga hoshiidesu
I want (desire) that bag

In the above sentence, the first thing to notice is the grammar.

(object of desire) 欲しいです

Whereas the particel を (o) is usually used in Japanese for objects, when using 欲しい you have to use が. So a literal translation of the above example would be something like “That bag is desired” rather than “I want that bag“.

So making your own sentence is easy!

How to Use 欲しいです to Express a Request “I Want You to do…” In Japanese

居酒屋に来て欲しい
Izakaya ni kitehoshii
I want you to come to the Izakaya

This sentence expresses the wish for someone else to do something. You can use 欲しい to make a request. You are expressing the wish or desire for something else to be done!

Also take note, this is a very direct way of speaking, and you probably should only use it in causal conversation. You don’t want to come across as rude, so it’s best to reserve this kind of phrase for people you are close to.

This sentence is also super easy to construct. Conjugate the verb to te-form and add 欲しい to the end. You could also add an ambiguous ending to make it less direct and more nuanced. Like this example:

やり方を教えて欲しいんだけど
Yarikata o oshiete hoshiindakedo
I want you to teach me how to do this/that

By adding 欲しいんだけど to the end you can make it sound a little less direct, which can sound more friendly. Again, this is best to be used with people you are close to such as friends or classmates.

Using 欲しいです with Short Form Negative Te Form – “I Don’t want you you to do…” In Japanese

You can also use the above formula to make a negative request! Simply conjugate the verb to short form negative te-form. For example:

海外に行かないで欲しい
Kaigai ni ikanaide hoshii
I don’t want you to go overseas…

(行く→ 行かない) + で + 欲しい

Since the verb is negative te-form it becomes で which has a “de” sound. Then just stick 欲しい on the end

As with affirmative requests, make sure to use this with people who speak casually with. That said, it’s a great way to express your emotions in Japanese to your friends.

Now You Can Express “I Wish”/”I Want” In Japanese

Now you can go try it out next time you are speaking Japanese with your friends!

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