How to say “Want” in Japanese: Tai + Hoshii + Hoshigatteiru / Tagatteiru

Want to know how to say want in Japanese?

Well, just remember these 3 ways.

Tai + Hoshii + Hoshigatteiru / Tagatteiru

Say them out loud. Think about them. Why? I’m priming your brain to grasp these grammar points.

Tai + Hoshii + Hoshigatteiru / Tagatteiru

Once you start reading, you’ll understand exactly how tai, hoshii, and hoshigatteru / tagatteiru work… and learn to say want in Japanese. Priming helps people learn faster.

Soy, let’s jump into Tai + Hoshii + Hoshigatteiru / Tagatteiru and how to say want in Japanese.

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1. Want + Noun – Hoshii

When you want a noun (person, place, or thing) like…

Water, watermelon, or an ice cream…

You’d use “hoshii,” or 欲しい,  which means “to want.”

You can use the particle “ga” or が to connect it to the noun.

To create a phrase, you get a noun, such as “book” or 本(hon), and then you would combine it by forming the words 本が欲しい (Hon ga hoshii) or “I want a book.”

  • アイスクリームが欲しい。
    • Aisukuriimu ga hoshii.
    • I want an ice cream.
  • 私はカバンが欲しい。
    • Watashi wa kaban ga hoshii.
    • I want a bag.
  • 彼は車が欲しい。
    • Kare wa kuruma ga hoshii.
    • He wants a car.
say want in japanese

What item do you hoshii? Leave a comment below.

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2. Want + Verb – Tai

If you want to say you want to DO something…

Meaning, use a verb, use “tai” or たい.

For example, if you want to say “want to eat,” you can say 食べたい or “tabetai.”

The verb to eat is “taberu” or 食べる, and adding “tai” turns it into a “want.”

Although you can use this in the present tense to refer to other people, Japanese people tend to use it when talking about their own wants. 

  • 私は日本に行きたい。
    • Watashi wa nihon ni ikitai.
    • I want to go to Japan.
  • 私は本を読みたい。
    • Watashi wa hon o yomitai.
    • I want to read a book.
  • 私は映画が見たい。
    • Watashi wa eiga ga mitai.
    • I want to watch a movie.

So, hoshii and -tai are the 2 most common ways to say want in Japanese.

say want in japanese

What do you want to do / tai? Leave a comment.

3. Past Tense – Hoshikatta / Takatta

To say what you wanted in the past…

You’d use the past tense of “Hoshii” or “Tai”

How? You drop the final “i” and add a “katta.”

You’d get “hoshikatta” or 欲しかった and “Takatta” or たかった.

All you have to do is to add this past tense ending in both situations.

  • アイスクリームが欲しかった。
    • Aisukuriimu ga hoshikatta.
    • I want an ice cream.
  • 私はカバンが欲しかった。
    • Watashi wa kaban ga hoshikatta.
    • I wanted a bag.
  • 彼は車が欲しかった。
    • Kare wa kuruma ga hoshikatta.
    • He wanted a car.
  • 私は日本に行きたかった。
    • Watashi wa nihon ni ikitakatta.
    • I wanted to go to Japan.
  • 私は本を読みたかった。
    • Watashi wa hon o yomitakatta.
    • I wanted to read a book.

4. Would have wanted – Hoshikatta kedo / Takatta kedo

To say “would have wanted” in Japanese…

You should add “kedo” or けど to the past tense form.

There is no excellent direct translation for “would have wanted,” but it is possible to say “Would have wanted but…” to mean the same thing. 

For example, you could transform the sentence “I wanted to eat sushi” or 私は寿司が食べたかった。(Watashi wa sushi ga tabetakatta)

And change it to “I would have wanted to eat sushi, but there was none” or 私は寿司が食べたかったけど、なかった。(Watashi wa sushi ga tabetakatta kedo, nakatta).

  • アメリカに行きたかったけど、航空券が高かった。
    • Amerika ni ikitakatta kedo, koukuu ken ga takakatta.
    • I would have wanted to go to the U.S. but the flight ticket was expensive.
  • 新しい鉛筆が欲しかったけど、売ってなかった。
    • Atarashii enpitsu ga hoshikatta kedo, utte nakatta.
    • I would have wanted a new pencil, but they didn’t sell any.

5. Don’t want – Hoshikunai / Takunai

To change “to want” into “don’t want,” you can use “hoshikunai” or 欲しくない for nouns or “takunai” or たくない for verbs.

It’s easy to convert any sentence that uses “hoshii” or “tai” using this method.

  • 病気になりたくない。
    • Byouki ni nari takunai.
    • I don’t want to get sick.
  • 学校に行きたくない。
    • Gakkou ni ikitakunai.
    • I don’t want to go to school.
  • お金は欲しくない。
    • Okane wa hoshikunai.
    • I don’t want money.
  • 新しいゲームは欲しくない。
    • Atarashii geemu wa hoshikunai.
    • I don’t want a new video game.

6. Someone else is wanting – Hoshigatteiru / Tagatteiru

If you want to say else wants something…

You can use “hoshigatte iru” or 欲しがっている for nouns and “tagatteiru” or たがっている for verbs.

These phrases can be helpful when you are trying to make assumptions or predictions about someone.

Generally, when discussing someone else, it’s more common to say “is wanting” instead of “to want” in Japanese… hence the “te-iru.”

  • 彼は新しいテレビを欲しがっている。
    • Kare wa atarashii terebi o hoshigatte iru.
    • He is wanting a new T.V.
  • 彼女はイギリスに行きたがっている。
    • Kanojo wa igirisu ni ikitagatte iru.
    • She is wanting to go to the U.K.

7. When You Want Someone to Do Something

If you want to ask someone to do something for you, use the verb “suru” / する with “hoshii” or 欲しい.

The entire phrase ending would be “shite hoshii” or して欲しい.

You can also request someone to do things with verbs besides “to do.”

You can say “tabete hoshii” or 食べて欲しい if you want someone to eat.

You must change the verb to the て form and add “hoshii” or 欲しい.

  • 買い物に行って欲しい。
    • Kaimono ni itte hoshii.
    • I want you to go shopping.
  • 仕事をして欲しい。
    • Shigoto o shite hoshii.
    • I want you to do work.

8. Asking “Do you want to…” / Invitation

“Want to come eat with me?”

That’s an invitation that involves “want.”

And in Japanese, you can use this by conjugating the verbs to the negative question form. 

For example, “Taberu” or “to eat” becomes “tabenai,” which can also mean “do you want to eat?” when asked casually.”

“Tabemasen,” the polite negative form, turns into “tabemasenka,” which is the question form.

This grammar structure can also mean “would you like to eat?” or “do you want to eat?”

You can learn more: How to ask questions in Japanese.

The negative question can be confusing for Japanese learners, so make sure to check the examples below!

  • 映画館に行きませんか?
    • Eiga kan ni iki masenka?
    • Would you like to go to the movies?
  • 明日食べに行かない?
    • Ashita tabe ni ikanai?
    • Do you want to eat somewhere tomorrow?
  • 旅行に行きませんか?
    • Ryokou ni iki masenka?
    • Would you like to go on a trip?
  • 買い物に行かない?
    • Kaimono ni ikanai?
    • Do you want to go shopping?

Back to You:

Now you know how to say want in Japanese.

You learned how to use Tai + Hoshii + Hoshigatteiru / Tagatteiru.

So leave me, Lingua Junkie, a comment.

What thing do you hoshii?

What do you want someone to shite-hoshii?

What do you want to do / tai?

Leave a comment. I read ’em all.

– The Main Lingua Junkie

P.S. Remember: the more you expose yourself to the language, the better you get.

P.P.S. Interested in learning Japanese? This Japanese course for Absolute Beginners from JapanesePod101 is FREE for a limited time only. They plan to close it down in the future, but while it’s still open, give it a try. Click the image below.

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