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I want my heart to always be beautiful.

心がいつも美しくして欲しいです (Incorrect)


I want my heart to always be beautiful.(?)

My Japanese friend wrote the first sentence, while I wrote it over attempting to use 欲しい instead. I am unfamiliar with this use of ある, and have a few questions about it.

Is it derived from the same "existence" verb, ある -- 在る ?

My other question is how personal is the nuance when expressing a wish or desire, compared to 欲しい? If the second version that I wrote with 欲しい is acceptable, how do the two sentences differ in tone, politeness, meaning and expression?

I am wondering if ありたい expresses a more, or less personal desire than 欲しい.

Furthermore, can one rewrite the original sentence using another verb, while retaining the same meaning? Lastly, is my translation correct? Or should it read "I want my heart to always be beautiful."? I had thought that the original sentence corresponded to something like "I always want the person on the inside to be beautiful (just like how I am on the outside)," but maybe I am wrong. Thank you.

share|improve this question
FYI, if you're going to write ある with kanji, 有る is usually for "have"/"possess"; Existence is 在る. – istrasci Feb 28 '12 at 18:53
thank you, i'll change it. – yadokari Feb 28 '12 at 18:59
@yadokari Updated my answer again in regards to your latest part of the question. – summea Feb 28 '12 at 21:09
up vote 4 down vote accepted
  • たい is used when the expected change is on the subject or it is about the subject's action.

'I want to eat some/the snack.'

  • ほしい is used when it is about something other than the subject.

'I want someone to eat some/the snack.'

Your second sentence is ungrammatical because is the object. It should be:


But this sentence cannot be interpreted as describing your own mind. It has to mean the mind of someone else. The same thing can be said about your third sentence.

A possible rewrite of the first example is:


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Can you explain the downvotes, please? – summea Feb 28 '12 at 18:55
ほしい can still be used about oneself; for example: アイスが欲しい. – summea Feb 28 '12 at 19:05
ありがとう。 On the last sentence you suggested, 心がいつも美しくなりたいです, could this be interpreted as, "I always want to become beautiful inside" as opposed to "be beautiful inside"? Which interpretation is more correct? – yadokari Feb 28 '12 at 19:07
@summea That is the main predicate usage of 欲しい, which is different from the auxiliary ほしい that comes after . – user458 Feb 28 '12 at 19:07
@yadokari I am not sure about your question, but do you mean the scope of いつも, that is: "always [want to become beautiful]" vs. "want to [always become beautiful]"? If so, then it can only mean the latter. – user458 Feb 28 '12 at 19:10

I hear ありたい used when it is more of a long term desire:

i.e. "I want to be a kind person."

I hear ほしい used when it is more of a short term desire:

i.e. "I want an ice cream cone."


As far as your question goes about how the two sentences differ, I still think that you'd want to use ありたい for something that is more of a long term desire (i.e. something one wants to become.) Otherwise, it sounds (to me, at least,) that you only want to be beautiful on the inside... but just for the moment.

Edit Two:

For double-checking your translation, we could try breaking up the sentence like this:

心がいつも美しくありたいです ↓

ありたいです (want to be)

美しくありたいです (want to be beautiful)

いつも美しくありたいです (want to be always beautiful)

心がいつも美しくありたいです (Would that my heart be always beautiful.)

share|improve this answer
Thank you. If this second sentence is correct, do they mean the same thing? How do they differ? 心がいつも美しくありたいです I always want to be beautiful on the inside. 心がいつも美しくして欲しいです I always want to be beautiful on the inside. – yadokari Feb 28 '12 at 18:26
Edited answer to hopefully address your question about how those particular sentences differ. – summea Feb 28 '12 at 18:33
This is how the original writer interpreted it: I want to be beautiful in my heart.(her english is not fluent) Are you suggesting it has the feel of a poetic phrase? or is it just hard to translate? would this be a statement used in everyday convo? or does it sound as rarefied as your last translation? thanks 4 yr input btw. – yadokari Feb 28 '12 at 21:55
I think one problem is the fact that 美しい is an adjective. In order to form the negative form, you first transform 美しい to x 美しくある, then transform ある to ない (美しくない). Similarly, to form the desiderative of 美しい, you have to first transform 美しい to x 美しくある, then transform ある to ありたい (美しくありたい). A similar process occurs with the use of は (that is, 美しい - x 美しくある - 美しくはある). I've marked the intermediate state of 美しくある with an 'x' as it doesn't normally occur in Japanese. – Bathrobe Mar 1 '12 at 0:22
Another possible rendition of the intended meaning, with a different nuance, is いつも心が美しいままでいたい. – Bathrobe Mar 1 '12 at 0:27

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