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I just learnt about 〜てみる and the book introduced 〜てみたい in an exercise.

I can see the difference between, say, 食べたい and 食べてみたい, but with 行きたい and 行ってみたい it's not so clear.

Would I be right to assume the first expresses my desire to go somewhere, and the second my desire to go and check out if I like it?

  • 3
    What did you learn about 〜てみる exactly? Seems like if you understand that, you should understand the difference of the 〜たい forms. – istrasci Apr 14 '15 at 19:12
  • -てみる is used for 'doing something tentatively'. For example, 去年は日本で初めて寿司を食べてみました。So, I understand 今年は日本でタコの寿司を食べてみたいです。 as I want to eat octopus sushi in Japan and see if I like it or not (I wanted to avoid translating to be honest). So I'd like to know if I'm correct in assuming that's the idea -てみたい expresses – Daniel Apr 14 '15 at 19:37
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I would like to add a note on the implications of 〜てみたい. Consider the case of the verb 行く. In a simple sentence such as Xに行ってみたい, it may imply you have never been to X before.

In general, however, it implies that the verbal action is in some sense something new to you, and that you'd like to experience it. Or in other words, if you are trying out something to see how it is, you would not have to try it out or see how it is if you were familar with it already.

But perhaps this is better illustrated by examples.

行くのはいつも春から秋。冬にも行ってみたい。

The speaker is saying that he has been there [滝野【たきの】すずらん丘陵公園【きゅうりょうこうえん] already, but only during summer or autumn. He has never experienced it during winter. The speaker would like to pay a visit during winter as well.

今年(2014年)初めて熊谷【くまがや】うちわ祭【まつり】に行きました。素晴らしいお祭りでしたが、公式サイトでも、熊谷市のサイトでもスケジュールがほとんどわからず、GPSの山車・屋台情報も混雑で(?)表示されませんでした。来年も行ってみたいのですが事前にある程度詳しい情報を入手できるサイトなどは無いでしょうか?

The speaker has already been to the festival at Kumagaya. However, the festivals from two different years are never the same. The speaker is hoping the logistics will be better next year.

《中禅寺湖【ちゅうぜんじこ】》日光の紅葉は経験上、ハズレがなく満足度が高いです。今年も行ってみたい。

Similar to the above. For all we know this year might be different and it could turn out not be fun; but the speaker is convinced otherwise and wants to go and find out. It could be a new or different experience compared to last year.

商業施設での香りが消費者行動に影響:

  • 「好意的な印象 86.3%」
  • また行ってみたい 70.3%」
  • 「より長くそのお店にいたい 69.5%」

(source)

A survey on the effect of releasing pleasant fragrances in shops. About 70% answered they would like to go there again. As above, they could find new products, better prices &c. -- it might be worth a try.

もう何年も故郷に帰ってない感じがして、ふとした瞬間に「懐かしい故郷の学校へ行ってみたいな」と思うような気持ちがして、こう言う時って、誰にでもあると思うんですよ。

Obviously the speaker has already been to the school they attended as a child, but many years have passed since. The speaker wants to see his old school again and see what has become of it.


Especially the last example shows that the notion of never having done it before needs to can be rather subtle. The construction 〜てみる adds some sense of trying something new or different or seeing how it is, but the details vary depending on the context.

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First, whether the main verb is 「[食]{た}べる」 or 「[行]{い}く」, the usages of 「~~たい」 and 「~~てみたい」 stay the same.

If I said 「スペインに行ってみたい。」, what should you know as a listener? You should know that:

1) I am interested in going to Spain.

And also that;

2) I have never been to Spain. ← This is an implied fact.

From this simple sentence alone, however, you would not know how much I really want to go there. The chances that I might actually go may or may not be very high.

Now, what if I said 「スペインに行きたい。」 instead? You would know that:

1) I have a fairly strong desire to go to Spain.

You would not know if I have been to Spain before.

Therefore, a person saying 「スペインに行きたい。」 would generally have a higher chance of finding himself in Spain in the near future than a person saying 「スペインに行ってみたい。」.

Here is a children's song that should "explain" nicely the nuance of 「~~てみたい」. Not many people went abroad at the time this song came out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlXJEuWqu3I

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~たい expresses your desire to do something. ~てみる is used to express that you will try something (usually for the first time). so when you put them together, ~てみたい expresses that you want to try to do something for the first time. (which would imply that you will see if you like it or not). This works for all verbs.

夏休みに日本に行きたいです。 I want to go to Japan during summer vacation.

夏休みに日本に行ってみます。I will try to go to Japan during summer vacation.

夏休みに日本に行ってみたいです。I want to try to go to Japan during summer vacation.

  • your translations are wrong. – oldergod Apr 15 '15 at 8:49
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    Problem with the English here. ~てみたい means you want to try doing something, not try to do something. To "try to go to Japan" means something like (できたら)日本に行こうと思っています。 ... but it actually sounds a bit odd, because what would be stopping you? In fact it is much easier to understand what ~てみる means, than to find a 1-1 translation for it that always works. For example, here you might say "I'd like to go to Japan and see what it is really like." In other cases, you might use the verb "try" on its own: "I would like to try sushi" is more natural than "I would like to try eating sushi". – Brian Chandler Apr 15 '15 at 9:14

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