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I was wondering what the correct version of this sentence is

私{わたし}が木{き}好{す}きです。 私{わたし}は木{き}好{す}きです。

If the correct version is even there.

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    Hey, I think you forgot to put は between 木 and 好 in your sentences.
    – kuchitsu
    Jul 9, 2016 at 20:17

3 Answers 3

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は is generally used in the sentence with adjective like 彼女は美しい、海は広い. So 私は木が好きです is general.

However when it is the answer for a question and you identify the person, が is used. For example, "誰が学校で一番美しいですか?""彼女が一番美しいです". So if you identify the person who likes trees is you, you say 私が木が好きです. http://www.alc.co.jp/jpn/article/faq/03/19.html

In addition, you can place が and は after 木, if you use が, it has normal meaning, but if you use は, you can imply contrast or emphasis like you especially like trees. However I feel 私が木は好きです is unnatural.

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  • が can be used twice in a sentence? I thought it acted like は in the way that it can only be used once.
    – Vander
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:36
  • Yes, you can use が twice in a sentence like "私が、木が好きです" in the case as I explained. Jul 10, 2016 at 16:49
  • You say 私は木は… when both of 私 and 木 are simply a topic too, without particularly emphasized.
    – user4092
    Jul 11, 2016 at 2:26
  • @user4092 The ideas of I and you seem to be different. It is difficult to explain how は is used as you know because it is according to speaker's nuance. I think は in 木は is contrast or emphasis than simple topic maker because it is completely replaced by 木が. Jul 11, 2016 at 4:39
  • When you consider a question「あなたは木についてどう思いますか?」and a reply 「私は木は好きです」, those は-s are definitely a (simple) topic. If you pronounce it strongly, you can of course imply that other things may not be nice. But that doesn't mean they lost the function to denote a topic. In this case, it's contrastive and simultaneously a topic.
    – user4092
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:01
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bcloutier’s answer makes a dangerous shortcut! The truth is that は marks the topic, not the subject, and が marks the subject, not the object.

Often, the topic and subject coincide, but in this case they’re different. 好き just means “favourable, enjoyable”. It’s closer to an adjective than a verb (though the two concepts blur together a little in Japanese). If something is 好き for you, that means you like it. It’s not a transitive verb like English’s “to like”. And the absolutely 100% literal translation of the correct sentence, 「私は木が好きです」, is something like “(Topic: me.) Trees are favourable.” In other words:

  • The topic is 私: this sentence is from my point of view; it has to do with me.
  • The predicate is 好き: this sentence describes some subject X as favourable.
  • The subject is 木: said X is “trees”.

Now, in this specific case, from an English angle, the topic is very subject-y, and the subject is very object-y. But it’s dangerous to look at it that way, because it’s vague, and hides what is really going on.

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    I understand the point of regarding 好き as (English) adjectives like "favorable" or so, but that idea is probably a major factor to lure learners to write incorrect sentences like 私には木が好き. In addition, 私は木が好き is semantically closer to "I like trees" than "for me, trees are nice", which is 私にとっては木は良い or so.
    – user4092
    Jul 10, 2016 at 6:03
  • You’re totally right. I fear there’s probably “no way to win”: every translation of 私は木が好き is bound to be somehow misleading, and the simple fact of the matter is that learning Japanese entirely in terms of English translations is a bad idea. I think I’ll change “for me” into something more vague, though!
    – lynn
    Jul 10, 2016 at 12:09
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It should be 私は木が好きです。は comes first because it defines 私 as the subject. Since 木 is the object, it gets が after it. 木は私が好きです would mean "the tree likes me".

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