I have the following sentence to translate.


So far I have the following.

My wife
in the Sea of Japan
... so
she was saying that she needs to buy a new swimsuit. 

My problem is the 泳ぎたがっている. I think it means she is wanting to swim, but I would expect that to be written as follows.

泳ぐ - I swim
泳ぎたい - I want to swim
泳ぎたくている - I am wanting to swim

So I don't understand why it's がって instead of くて. I thought the たい form was considered an i-adjective. And I can't think of any way to get the form used in the sentence.

  • You can't use 〜ている on adjectives like that, and at any rate you aren't supposed to use 〜たい with a non-first-person subject.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 22:17
  • Thanks for the info. I think my professor mentioned the たい 1st person thing, but so far that is all he's taught us. So that's probably why he wrote the sentence that way. Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 22:27
  • Nothing to do with your question but 日本の海(にほんのうみ) here means "a beach someplace in Japan". "The Sea of Japan" is 日本海(にほんかい).
    – user4032
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 0:32
  • 1
    Related: Aren't がる and たがる the same thing?
    – istrasci
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 2:12

2 Answers 2


You can't directly use 〜たい if you are talking about other people's state of mind. You need to attach 〜がる (which attaches to the root of any i-adj).

泳ぐ - (I/he/she) swim(s)
泳ぎたい - I want to swim
泳ぎたがる - He/she (shows signs that he/she) wants to swim
泳ぎたがっている - He/she (is showing signs that he/she) wants to swim

For the most part 〜たがる and 〜たがっている are pretty similar, just a difference in nuance as to how "current"/"right now" the signs are.

As in your sentence, often the fact that something is happening now is the relevant part, requiring you to use 〜ている.

  • Oh thanks. My professor said we didn't have to worry about the 1st person vs 3rd person etc stuff when we learned the structure. I looked it up in my textbook. Now it makes perfect sense. Thanks so much :D Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 22:48
  • Interchangeable?? No native speakers would say 「妻は日本の海で泳ぎたがる。」 in that context. It sounds strange because it means she habitually and repeatedly expresses her desire to go to the beach in Japan. 「泳ぎたがっている」 is the only proper form one could use there.
    – user4032
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 1:42
  • @TokyoNagoya I think "interchangeable" was the wrong word. Thank you for pointing that out. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 2:02
  • Though I'm having trouble coming up with a satisfying explanation of when one or the other needs to be used. What I currently have written seems a little vague. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 2:09
泳ぎたい I want to swim

The above can also be used for others in questions (with friends).

泳ぎたがる - she wants to swim (present tense)
泳ぎたがっている she is wanting to swim. (progressive tense)

In many contexts, these two translate to the same English. The latter is the present progressive; the former is the present indicative. In Japanese, the present progressive is often used to indicate a state rather than an activity in progress. (English does the same).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .