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I thought that "suki" was a verb which meant "to like". It is hard to me to make sense why it seems to be always used with "desu".

Now in a webpage I read that suki is an adjective, which means something like "liked" like some sort of passive voice I guess? That's why it uses the verb desu almost always I supposed. But I also see in another webpage that suki is a verb with all its conjugations.

The question is, is it suki an adjective, a verb, or both, and if it's also a verb, when it's used like a verb with its respective conjugations and without desu? (Assuming it can be used without desu.)

  • 5
    Generally speaking, the more romaji a website uses, the more misinformation it gives. – l'électeur Jan 13 '17 at 12:09
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    Even though 好き is an adjective, it doesn't mean it corresponds with English adjectives like "likable" etc. Grammatical error over 好き often stems from believing 好き is "likable". – user4092 Jan 13 '17 at 19:16
  • @torazaburo you know, after this topic and before your comment I was exactly thinking about that, if the notion of nouns, verbs and adjectives are the same in english and japanese. At least I found that in my native language (spanish) we also use verbs as nouns and as some sort of adjectives, something I didnt realize before. May be they should be called by their original japanese names Keiyōshi, Meishi which might have different connotations – Pablo Jan 14 '17 at 5:57
  • @torazaburo The things you're typing should really be posted as an answer rather than as comments. – snailcar Jan 14 '17 at 18:14
  • in english can't you just use any adjective that way? and they dont have any special noun characteristic because of that? it's beautiful, strong, tall, etc. it's a dog, cat, house, etc. when in other japanese adjectives you can't say (adjective) da ? – Pablo Jan 14 '17 at 18:25
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好き suki is a difficult word.

What is clear is that it derives from the verb 好く suku, which is still in use (most often in the passive voice: 好かれる "to be liked").

However, like the 連用形 ren'yōkei "masu-stem" of so many other verbs, it took on a life of its own, primarily as what is quite naturally analyzed as 形容動詞 keiyōdōshi "na-adjective".

Hence we have

  1. 〇〇が好きです
    〇〇 ga suki desu
    cf. 〇〇がきれいです

  2. 好き〇〇
    suki na 〇〇
    cf. きれい〇〇

A literal translation might be "X is likeable/nice", which equates to "I like X".


Note that 嫌い kirai (from 嫌う kirau, also often seen in the passive 嫌われる) works almost exactly the same.

  • 「ペキフルーツが好きじゃない」 「ペキフルーツが嫌いです」 「嫌いなペキフルーツ」 – Geyslan G. Bem Jul 10 at 19:23
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好き is indeed tricky and I was also tricked when I was learning to use this word. 好き is a na-adjective 形容動詞. To be abstract, it means the "quality of being liked", which is different from "likable" (好かれる or 好ましい). If this confuses you, there are two rules of thumb:

  • 好きだ/好きです is the closest equivalent to the English verb "like". e.g. モーニング娘。のことが好きです means "(I) like Morning Musume", NOT "Morning Musume is likable".
  • 好きな〇〇 means "the liked 〇〇". e.g. 好きな人 means "the person (someone) likes".

Once you understand these two rules, use 好き as you would any na-adjective. e.g., "liked" is 好きだった/好きでした, and "don't like" is 好きじゃない.

(and I do like Morning Musume)

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