Table of Contents
- The Basics
- Beyond the Basics
〜たい is used to express your inner desire to do something, just like "want to (do something)" in English. You attach it to a verb to describe what kind of action you want to do. For example, you can turn a verb 食べる (to eat) into 食べたい (want to eat) to express your desire to eat.
Conjugating Verbs to Take 〜たい
たい for Expressing Your Desire
It's pretty straightforward, but 〜たい is used for expressing your desire. For example, you can use it for your run-of-the-mill daily urge.
- I want to go to a bathroom.
Or, even for a bigger, long-term desire, like your future dream.
- I want to become a pilot.
Beyond the Basics
Expressing Desire of Someone Else
〜たい is typically to express your own inner desire, things you want to do, not things someone else wants to do. Unlike using "want to" in English, it sounds awkward if you talk about someone else's desire using 〜たい. At least, if you use it as a standalone.
For example, if you want to speak for your bacon-obsessed friend, Mami, and say マミはベーコンを食べたい meaning "Mami wants to eat bacon," it would sound too assertive and weirdly certain for someone else to say. At the end of the day, you never know what others really think, you know? (Unless you are a mind reader…! 🔮)
You might still come across 〜たい being used for someone else's desire in a story (when characters' desires are narrated), but it is pretty rare in real-life speech. So even if you're pretty sure Mami wants to eat bacon (because she always does), it would be a good idea to make it clear that you're only assuming, or you have some evidence to back it up. Now, let's take a look at some of the options you can use:
と言っていた (they were saying)
- Kimura-san was saying he wants to eat okonomiyaki.
そうだ (I heard that)
- I heard that Tanaka-san wants to go get a drink with Kimura-san.
そうだ (it looks like)
- It looks like Tanaka-san wants to go home.
Note: Check out our 〜そう for more details.
らしい (it seems that)
- It seems that Kimura-san wants to fight.
〜たい also pairs nicely with the explanatory-tone of んです/のです.
- (The situation is) Kimura-san wants to eat okonomiyaki.
There's also a way of describing someone else's desire without using 〜たい. Check out 〜たがる to learn all about it!