が and を with -たい

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kr0ed

New Member
Norwegian
Hi guys!

I know 雪見たいです means "I want to see the snow".
Does 雪見たいです mean excactly the same, or is there any nuance between the two sentences?

And just a follow-up question, because it makes me curious:
Does the sentence 雪見たいです make any sense? Considering the little Japanese I know it looks incomplete, I'd translate it as "The snow wants to see [missing words]"
 
  • frokat

    Member
    English - US
    I think the が and を versions are both very common and there’s not really a difference. I tend to prefer the が version.

    「雪は見たいです」 can be an acceptable sentence, but I don’t think it would be very common. It would still mean “I want to see snow,” but with a certain kind of emphasis.

    A different example might make more sense. Here’s a dialogue: B is eating sushi, and A asks for some maguro. But B has already eaten it, so B offers A some ikura instead.
    A: 「B君のおすし、美味しそうだね。マグロをもらっていい?」
    B: 「ごめん、マグロはもう食べたけど、いくらをあげるよ」

    In this context, マグロはもう食べた doesn’t mean that the Maguro has already eaten. It’s more like “oh, maguro?... I already ate it”

    I think it’s useful to know that は doesn’t always indicate the grammatical subject of a sentence. There are a lot of articles describing use of は vs が out there that may be interesting to you - は is a really subtle point for Japanese learners and it takes time to get comfortable with.
     

    kanadaaa

    Senior Member
    Japanese (Tokai)
    Marking an object with が is possible only when the sentence involves a modal auxiliary.
    There's no dramatic difference in meaning between が-marked and を-marked objects, as long as this condition is met.

    And 雪は見たいです means "the snow, I want to see".
    There is a null subject and thus the sentence is complete.
    This sentence would be completely acceptable as long as there's a context in which you have multiple items to compare and pick "the snow" out of them.
     
    Last edited:

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    The particle "が" refers to something new while the particle "は" refers to something has been already mentioned.
    The particle "を" usually signifies an object.

    So "が" can be used when referring to both a subject and an object.

    I guess that: 雪が見たいです can be used
    when you are requested to choose what you are to see from among several things. Somebody asks you what you want see and says that you can see the snow, the lake, the ocean, or the mountains.
    It is not only natural to answer, " 雪が見たいです" but also it has stronger stress than "
    雪を見たいです" because "が" implies you are positively choosing it by suggesting you take it as something new.
     
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    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    "が" can not be used in a sentence when referring to things that is already mentioned in the same sentence.
    So
    何を選びますか?
    is idiomatic
    but
    何が選びますか?
    is not. This is because things from which you can choose are tacidly implied in that sentence as
    雪と川と湖と海と山の中で、何を選びますか?

    But it is interesting that
    雪と川と湖と海と山の中で、何が好きですか?
    is idiomatic.
    I guess this is because 好き is subjective whereas 選ぶ is objective so 好き can carry more positive nuances.

    雪は見たいです would mean a situation like when you have already been asked about 雪.
    A: What do you want to see? The snow or the lake or the sea. I'd like to recommend the snow because this year we have wonderful snow.
    B: 雪は見たいです
    is idiomatic because 雪 has been referred to as something you should choose.
    In that context "は" means that 雪 has already mentioned by the other party and you take 雪 as something you agreed to.
     
    Last edited:

    frokat

    Member
    English - US
    I think that 好き appears in the form アイス好きです because 好き acts as an adjective describing アイス. So I think of が in アイスが好きです as the same exact subject-marking が as in 部屋が綺麗だ or 魚が泳ぐ。

    Similarly I've sort of wondered if there's a reasonable analysis where the たい forms of verbs become 形容詞 / い adjectives, like 寒い. 〜たい conjugates for negation and past tense in the same way as a 形容詞 and interacts with words like です in the same way. Does たい turns a verb into an adjective meaning something like “is desirable to (verb)”? If so that would seem to parallel 好き. I don't know how to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

    The appeal to me is that it explains these usages of が in a way that's fully harmonious with the general rule that が marks the grammatical subject of a sentence (or maybe I should say of a verb phrase). I'd be curious to know more about the evolution of the 〜たい form and of modern usage of が and を, and if を〜たい or が〜たい came first - or if there are any patterns to when speakers are more likely to use を vs が with 〜たい (regional variation? speaker's gender? avoiding ambiguity with some other word needing to be marked with が in the same sentence? does it depend on the verb? does it depend on the noun?)
     
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