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I was trying to express the idea of "Like + do something", as in "I like to drink tea" or "I like to eat pasta".

After a quick search I found that you can express it like this, omitting the parts to drink/to eat:

1a. (私は)パスタが好きです。
2a. (私は)お茶が好きです。

But couldn't this be seen simply as "I like tea/pasta"? While being more or less the same meaning, it doesn't have the same nuance.

And if I wanted to make it clearer, would they be something like this?

1b. (私は)パスタを食べる好きです。
2b. (私は)お茶を飲む好きです。

I've used numbers and letters so it's easier to refer to the single sentences.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

パスタが好きです means “I like pasta,” and お茶が好きです means “I like tea.”

You cannot use 1b or 2b. The …が好きだ is “I like …,” and “…” must be a noun and you need が.

How should you specify a verb? The answer is by using nominalizer particle の, which turns a verb (or a verb phrase) into a noun phrase.

パスタが好きです。 I like pasta.
パスタを食べるのが好きです。 I like to eat pasta.
パスタを作るのが好きです。 I like to cook pasta.

(As you can see, this is exactly analogous to what happens in English grammar; we use to-infinitive to turn a verb phrase into a noun phrase.)

Here nominalizer の turns a verb representing some action into a noun phrase meaning the abstract notion of doing that action. There are other uses of nominalizer の (for example, it can also attach to an adjective), but I will omit them for this answer.

(Just in case, this is about “I like to do something,” not “I’d like to do something,” which is a completely different thing.)

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Yes of course, I asked about the statement "I like", not "I'd like". :) Very clear explanation. Then for the tea one, it should be "お茶を飲むのが好きです", right? –  Alenanno Feb 19 '13 at 14:24
    
Yes, お茶を飲むのが好きです is correct. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 19 '13 at 14:28
    
@TsuyoshiIto So お茶を飲むことが好きです is wrong? –  dotnetN00b Feb 19 '13 at 21:05
    
@dotnetN00b: It is not wrong, and I have never claimed that it is wrong. But お茶を飲むのが好きです sounds more natural because こと is semantically heavier than の and there is no reason to put emphasis on the nominalizer here. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Feb 20 '13 at 22:31

Firstly, in 1b and 2b, the verbs are transitive, so they take a direct object. Direct objects are marked by -wo, not -ga. Hence, パスタを食べる and お茶を飲む.

Now to your question, consider the English. "I drink tea" --> "I like drinkING tea". Similarly, in Japanese you need to nominalize the the verb phrase "otya wo nomu". This can be done by adding no to the end of the phrase. suki da requires a subject, which is marked by -ga. Putting this all together, this becomes "otya wo nomu no ga suki da".

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Mistake fixed (so we focus on the other part). –  Alenanno Feb 19 '13 at 14:30

パスタが好きです/お茶が好きです is very simply I like tea/pasta - no more no less but, yes, just as in English, it conveys the msg that you like eating tea/pasta.

I think it is fair to say that verbs do not usually modify adjectives or at least not in the context you are looking for (although it might work in less formal conversation(?)).

If you want to say you "like eating pasta", as opposed to just you "like pasta" (ie so the reader will infer that you like to eat it, as opposed to appreciating it for some other unspecified reason) then you should use a nominalizer. eg:

パスタを食べるのが好きです。

[ Note: 食べる is a transitive verb, it takes an object, "(私は)パスタが食べる好きです" is non-grammatcial.]

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Mistake fixed, thanks (I'm telling you so you can fix the answer). :) –  Alenanno Feb 19 '13 at 14:31

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