I have 3 sentences, each with relative clause as follows. By considering the English translation, is my understanding correct?

A: 私が好きな女性はたばこを吸わない。

A': The woman who likes me does not smoke.

B: 私は好きな女性がたばこを吸わない。

B': The woman I like does not smoke.

C: 私はたばこを吸わない女性が好きだ。

C': I like women who don't smoke.

  • 2
    "I like a woman who doesn't smoke." would be 私はたばこを吸わない女性が好きだ, no?
    – chocolate
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 5:30
  • So, maybe you meant to say 私が好きな女性 can be "the woman I like" and "the woman who likes me"?
    – chocolate
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 5:50
  • @choco: Yes.... Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 5:51

2 Answers 2


A can have two meanings.
One is the meaning of A', the other is of B'.
Actually, I took A as the same meaning as B' when I read at first.

When you say "歌{うた}が好{す}きな彼{かれ}が...", I understand that as "he who likes songs...". However, if you say "彼が好きな歌が..." I take it as "a song or songs he likes..."

Generally, "Xが好きなY" has different shades of meaning depending on the context.
In this case, you probably get the right meaning easily because a song cannot like someone.

However, using "私が好きな女性" would embarrass you because I may like a woman, and a woman also may like me.

To avoid misunderstanding:

  1. To express "a woman that likes me", almost all Japanese use のこと:

  2. To express "a woman who I like", some use の instead of が:

By the way, sentence B is not natural. "私が好きな女性は" or "私の好きな女性は" is more natural.

Furthermore, C also may have two meanings.

  1. I generally prefer women who don't smoke. (This is the interpretation C' you gave, isn't this?)
  2. I like a woman who doesn't smoke (whose name is XXX. I.e. a particular woman).

If you'd like to disambiguate them, you can say ''たばこを吸わない女性のほうが好きだ'' for situation 1 above, and ''たばこを吸わない女性のことが好きだ'' for situation 2.


  • Xが好きなY -> Y that X likes, or Y that likes X.
  • Xの好きなY -> Y that X likes.
  • Xのことが好きなY -> Y that likes X.
  • 1
    I have edited this post to (1) clear up the pairs of references between the English sentence and the Japanese sentence from the question and (2) improve the visual structure. If you feel that your original meaning or intention is lost, please rollback the edit.
    – Flaw
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 16:22
  • 1
    I appreciate your edit. It became much better thanks to you.
    – Toshihiko
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 16:34

I think it is best to think 好き in terms of "being liked".

私が好きなものだ can be understood like "The thing that is liked by me" indeed nobody would say that in English since there is the sorter and more natural "The thing I like".

Therefore, 私がすきな女性 is "the woman/women that is/are liked by me" ( = "the woman/women I like". By putting the theme particle は after 女性, you thematize your sentence which means 私がすきな女性 becomes the core topic of your sentence.

As for the woman/women I like, they do not smoke.

You are expressing a characteristic of the woman/women you like.

On the other hand, if you choose to put は after 私, 私 becomes the core topic, this time everything revolves around 私.

As for me, the woman/women I like do not smoke.

You are expressing a property of 私, here, clearly, 私 does not like "woman/women who do(es) smoke".

For expressing "the woman who loves me" I think it will be difficult to express it unambiguously with 好き only. I think that you have to use the verb 愛する which basically means "to love".
Depending on the context, you may want to have the focus on you or on the woman that loves you. This is done by play with active and passive voices.

The woman/women who love(s) me do(es) not smoke.


The woman/women by whom I am loved do not smoke.

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