Hitting the Curveball

Here is some kind help from a reader called nahcirn. It is listed as a comment under a previous post, but I wanted to share it in a post on its own

I previously wrote about the fact that 欲しい (want) is an adjective in Japanese. (Since I just posted it yesterday, I won’t bore you by going into a bunch of detail today.)

Here’s the helpful comment:

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Here’s a small piece of info that might spare you some confusion:

It did, by the way, so thank you again.

There’s a verb form of 欲しい. It’s 欲しがる.

Aha! There’s that nice verb ending!

You’ve probably seen this written in te-form as 欲しがっている, which literally means something like “shows signs of wanting”.

This verb form of 欲しい is important, because you CAN’T use 欲しい when you’re referring to a third person (e.g. “Pamela wants a computer.”)

My book mentions this fact and then simply drops the whole issue, at least for the time being. I assume that it will come back to it in a later chapter, but that’s quite a cliff to leave a hapless student hanging on, don’t you think?

This would imply that you know the feelings of Pamela, which I guess is an impolite implication; for that reason, you have to use 欲しがっている.

Ah, that wonderful Japanese politeness! When you learn a language, you also learn a lot about the culture that the language arose in.

One other thing to add is about particles. When using the verb form, 欲しがる, the correct particle to use is を to designate a direct object. But when using the adjectival form, 欲しい, you need to use が. (E.g. コンプューターが欲しいです。) That’s because the verb in this case is です, which doesn’t take a direct object.

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That is great to know. As you can see, my example sentence yesterday was incorrect, and I am delighted to have my errors fixed, especially when they are fixed with such a succinct and clear explanation!

Japanese is still a language of mystery and wonder, but now it isn’t quite as mysterious as it was before!

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