Using 〜がる with い-Adjectives for "Want..."

    • Adjective
    い-adjectives can take the suffix 〜がる to describe how other people seem to feel, based on how they look or behave. This lets you state what you think someone is experiencing rather than stating it as a fact.

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    What Is い-Adjective がる?

    い-adjectives are used to describe things, including ourselves. One way we do this is by describing how we are feeling, personally. "I am happy," and "I am sad," are both expressed with い-adjectives in Japanese. However, if you want to describe how someone else is feeling, a straight-up い-adjective won't be enough. You'll need to get help from the suffix 〜がる.

    When attached to an adjective, 〜がる means, "showing signs of" that adjective. So while かゆい means "itchy," かゆがる means "showing signs of being itchy" or "seems itchy" or "looks like (they are) itchy."

    You can use 〜がる to express your interpretation of someone's inner thoughts or state based on visible clues, such as facial expressions and behaviors. You can also use 〜がる when you are not sure about your interpretation of that person's inner state. In a case like this, your speech carries a different nuance—something like "that person is pretending to be…" 

    〜がる is closely related to other types of "conjectural language," such as らしい, そう, という, and みたい. These words and phrases are used to talk about someone else's thoughts or feelings, whether you know for sure or are guessing.

    To attach 〜がる to an い-adjective, drop the final 〜い and add 〜がる. Pretty simple!

    悲し + がる = 悲しがる

    It's important to notice that once you've added 〜がる to an い-adjective, it no longer functions like an adjective. For all intents and purposes, it now functions like a verb.

    Using がる in Different Tenses

    〜がる is typically used with adjectives that express subjective thoughts and feelings. These may be psychological, such as 嬉しがる (appears to be happy) and 怖がる (appears to be scared), or physiological, such as 痛がる (appears to be hurt) and 寒がる (appears to be cold).

    Because 〜がる is mostly used to describe how other people feel based on their appearance or behavior, it is generally used in the present continuous or past continuous form, since these forms are used to indicate that an action is currently happening (or was currently happening at a specific time in the past). Let's take a look at each of these:

    • 松本さんは羨ましがっている
    • Matsumoto seems to be jealous.
    • 私が勝った時、松本さんは羨ましがっていた
    • Matsumoto seemed to be jealous when I won.

    However, 〜がる is not always used in a continuous form. For example, when it is used to refer to a hypothetical situation, the simple present form is more appropriate:

    • お兄ちゃんが家を出たらお母さんが寂しがる
    • If my brother moves out of the house, our mom will feel lonely.

    がる to Talk About Yourself

    While the most common usage of 〜がる is to talk about others, it can also be used to talk about yourself. In these cases though, you are not describing your internal state, you are describing your behavior and how it affects others. Here's an example of how this looks:

    • 私がお菓子をほしがると、姉はいつもわけてくれる。
    • When I show that I want snacks, my sister always shares her snacks with me.

    In this sentence, the main focus is on your sister, and the fact that she shares her snacks with you. I wish my sister would do that for me! We used 〜がる here to indicate that you are behaving in a way that alerts your sister of your need for snacks. If you simply wanted to say that you want snacks though, you would omit 〜がる:

    • お菓子がほしい。
    • I want snacks.

    Using Particles with がる

    When describing someone else's feelings with 〜がる, use the particle を in the place where you would use が in a sentence about your own feelings.

    • 僕は松本さん羨ましい。
    • I am jealous of Matsumoto.
    • 松本さんは僕羨ましがっている。
    • Matsumoto is jealous of me.

    がり for Nouns

    By conjugating がる into its stem form, it can turn some adjectives into nouns that mean "a person who shows signs of being…" These noun forms may or may not incorporate 屋 (や), which is the same や in すし屋. For example, 寂しがり屋 is "a lonely person."

    While a few of these nouns, such as 寂しがり, are often paired with や, others are not, such as 暑がり (a person who runs hot), 寒がり (a person who runs cold), and 怖がり (a scaredy-cat). This is because adding や indicates that the adjective is a defining trait for that person—as in, "He is a really lonely person." Feeling hot, cold, or scared are usually temporary states, so it's unnatural to say "He's a cold person," in regards to his temperature—most people don't stay cold for months or years at a time, even if they have a tendency to feel cold.