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Can "みたい" mean "want to see", or does it always mean "looks like"/"seems like"? If not, how would "want to see" be expressed?

Specifically, assuming it has both uses, it would seem ambiguous to me here: なんだか違う映画みたいだなあ

Would that be "I want to see a somewhat different movie", or "That seems like a somewhat different movie"?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

"That seems like a somewhat different movie" would be

なんだか違う映画みたいだなあ

Whereas "I want to see a different movie" would be

なんだか違う映画をみたいなあ

So to answer your question directly, yes, "を見たい" means "want to see" -- and you'd use the kanji "見たい", in most general cases. (There's no だ after みたい in this case.)

When you want to say "is like", you'd say "みたい" without a particle in front, and without kanji.

Though "見たい" is the most general kanji for "want to see/look", you can use more specific ones:

"診たい" -- want to examine, as in examine a patient.

"観たい" -- want to watch, as in sightseeing or watching a movie.

"看たい" -- want to look after, as in looking after a patient, from 看病 (かんびょう) -- not too common.

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【視る】を忘れないように... –  istrasci Jul 3 '11 at 22:50
7  
one trick is that typically verb-like grammatical structures in japanese are written in hiragana. –  Mark Hosang Jul 4 '11 at 0:55
    
@Mark Hmm... really? 死ぬ、出る、現れる、倒れる... Bigger words are more often hiragana especially these days, but that doesn't seem to be limited to verbs or verb-like structures. –  Rei Miyasaka Jul 4 '11 at 1:37
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Yes, I think that usage dictates that normal verbs are in kanji, while auxiliaries have to be in hiragana. So, "違う映画みたい" and "違う映画を観たい". Same goes for "〜てくる"、"〜ていく", "〜ておく"… –  Axioplase Jul 4 '11 at 2:27
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@h4xnoodle みたい as in みたいだ is not a noun. If anything it's a な-adjective. –  ジョン Apr 14 '12 at 11:41
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