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I heard that we cannot describe the feeling of a third person using たい, ほしい, 楽しい, and others? Is it true?

For example, the following sentences are considered incorrect.

  • あの人は楽しかったです。
  • 亀は寂しいです。
  • 彼はお好み焼きを食べたいです。
  • 彼女は赤ちゃんがほしいです。
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It is not exactly incorrect to do that, but you should try to avoid assuming other people's emotions because you can never know them for sure.

The way to get around it is to add uncertainty to the statement. Most commonly, at least in casual conversation, you use でしょう at the end.

彼はピザを食べたいでしょう - (it seems) he wants to eat pizza.

You can also use the -がる grammar for adjectives, but this often has an impersonal and distant feel to it, so it's not used as often.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yeah, -がる is often used when you refer to general tendency, but not often when you describe how the person present there is like. – user4092 Aug 24 '15 at 3:44
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    Using the quotative particle って is pretty common as well, if the person in question expressed aloud his/her state of mind. 「ピザが食べたいなぁ」 → 彼は、ピザが食べたいって 'He said he wanted pizza.' – oals Aug 24 '15 at 5:37
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    「彼はピザを食べたそうにしている」「彼女は赤ちゃんを欲しがっている」 --- these are perfectly fine when describing his/her want objectively from the third person's view. – naruto Aug 24 '15 at 22:20

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