I noticed that there are some adjectives that have ~がる suffix to make them into verbs. Some examples from WWWJDIC:


Apparently ~たい form also can take the ~がる suffix to become ~たがる suffix:


Rikaichan popup explains the ~がる as:

to feel (on adj-stem to represent third party's apparent emotion); to behave as if one were

So I thought that I could append this suffix to any adjectives to add those connotations. However, it seems that not all adjectives and ~たい have the suffix. WWWJDIC does not return any exact matches for the following words:

やさしがる (to behave as if one were nice?)
きたがる (to feel that one wants to come? - Since いきたがる exists so logically きたがる should exist too?)
ねむがる (to behave as if one were sleepy?)

My question is, as in the title, is ~がる suffix limited to specific adjectives only? How do we know which adjectives can have the suffix and which adjectives can't?

1 Answer 1


As explained by the Rikaichan popup you reference in your question, ~がる is a suffix for representing a third party's apparent emotion. As such, you cannot use it with やさしい or ねむい as these are not adjectives which describe emotions.

As it was explained to me, you cannot generally know another person's emotions or thoughts, and so when speaking of them, you use either ~がる (e.g. うれしがる) or ~そう (e.g. うれしそう). To some extent, this is true even in English -- "John seems sad today" seems more generally applicable than "John is sad today" (without John having said so himself).

To answer your question: you use this for adjectives (including ~たい) which represent emotional or psychological states. It's very difficult to provide an exhaustive list of such adjectives.

  • As for an instance of 来たがる, how about the following? You are at a concert or a party and talking about your friend who is not there: 山田さんも来たがっていたけれど、残念ながら仕事で来られないんだ。 Since you are there, 行きたがっていた would sound strange in this example. Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 4:39
  • @Tsuyoshi: I think I would lean more toward 山田さんも来たかったそうだけれど (likely this is my own failing)... But you make a good point.
    – rintaun
    Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 4:45
  • @rintaun @Tsuyoshi: I can understand why the adjectives need to be related to emotion in order to use the -garu suffix. What strikes me as strange is that the suffix is also selective on the -tai form, which is related to emotion (as in, to desire to do something is related to emotion).
    – Lukman
    Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 5:01
  • 4
    @rintaun: Suppose that 山田さん did not tell you explicitly that he/she wanted to come to the concert, but instead it was obvious that he/she wanted to come from what he/she said or did. (Maybe 山田さん is a little childish.) In this case, 来たがっていた describes the situation more accurately than 来たかったそうだ. (But depending on the context, the use of -たがる can be impolite because it implies that the desire of the subject is apparent from his/her behavior.) Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 5:11
  • 5
    “Apparent emotion” is a good explanation, but it does not explain everything. For example, 強がる means to try to act tough, but I think that it is a stretch to say that 強い (strong) is an emotion. I doubt that there is a perfect explanation why 強がる is used and 優しがる is not. Commented Jun 26, 2011 at 5:57

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