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When I saw this sentence alone Mari wa neru koto ga suki desu I first thought neru koto is the direct object of the answer and should have an "o" particle, and not a "ga". Later I thought I might dont understand very well and may be actions can't be direct object or something, but after seeing the structure of the question that originates that answer more confusion arises:

Nani o suru koto ga suki desu ka?

Here Nani is marked as "o" (direct object) and in the answer that "what" becomes "suru koto" (which is marked as "ga" so supposedly it isnt a direct object) . isnt this contradictory? is it simply this way a valid syntactic rule or am I missunderstanding something more?

  • so, is it simply a syntactic rule that "When using the potential form of a verb, the particle を becomes が. " ? – Pablo Jun 25 '17 at 20:17
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    There's no potential form here. – snailcar Jun 25 '17 at 21:58
  • I guess I confused potential form with gerund. I couldnt understand the answer linked yet – Pablo Jun 25 '17 at 22:06
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    Suppose there's an agent, A, an entity, B, and you want to state that B is something that A likes; A is in the state of liking B. In English, this is phrased as an action/state of A: "A likes B". In Japanese, this is stated as a property of B: "B is liked (by A)". In other words, English express this state of things with a verb qualifying A ("to like"), whereas Japanese do it with an adjective qualifying B (suki). That's why there's no direct object particle; suki is an adjective, not a verb. (Here B = neru koto; it works just like Mari wa ringo ga suki desu.) – melissa_boiko Jun 26 '17 at 7:06
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    @leobokio you might want to leave an answer here too: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/42493/… – Pablo Jun 26 '17 at 9:53
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(All that grammar they've taught you is a necessary oversimplification.)

If you want 「好」 to have the equivalent of a direct object such as we have in English, use [好む]{このむ}. But don't do that until you've heard several natives say it and recognized how they are using it.

「好く」 means something like "to be liked", in the proper grammar. So you can't really have a direct object, only an object complement. (Which is also a necessary oversimplification.)

That having been said, modern Japanese usage, especially among the young, will see a bit of self-assertion, trading the stuffy 「ピザを好みます。」 for the "incorrect" 「ピザを好きです。」

(Since Chocalate asks, I'll add this, which I have heard from a 国語先生、 「好かれる」 should generally be understood as a polite construction. This is one of the reasons I have generally objected to "A is liked by B." examples for passive form in 英語 classes, and when I point this out after classes, the 英語先生 has almost always agreed and given me time to help them prepare more natural examples.)

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    「好く」 means something like "to be liked" So.. in 彼は誰からも好かれる, the 好かれる means...? (Maybe you meant to type 好 (i-adjective) not 好 (verb) ?) – Chocolate Jun 26 '17 at 4:12
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    「好かれる」 should generally be understood as a polite construction (O.o) Are you saying the れる in 彼はみんなから好かれる is not passive but honorific?? It means "He is loved by everyone", you know? – Chocolate Jun 26 '17 at 9:00
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    @Pablo why the question "Nani o suru koto ga suki desu ka?" uses an "o" -- You use を here cos なに is the direct object of the transitive verb する. It also uses "suki" but it has an "o" and not a "ga" -- Hmm? It has a が in なにをすることすき... – Chocolate Jun 26 '17 at 15:50
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    好く is a transitive verb, and we say XX好く / XX好いている / XX好いていない, not XX好く/XX好いている etc., to mean "I like XX / I don't like XX." XXが好く/XXが好いている means "XX likes (something)." 好かれる is commonly used to say "to be liked", eg XXはみんなに好かれる, 好かれている, lit. "XX is liked by everyone". (I can't think of a natural example where 好かれる is used in the sense of honorific 好いていらっしゃる). And the れる in みんなに好かれる/好かれている is not honorific but passive, cos XXはみんなに好く, with the れる removed, makes no sense and doesn't mean "XX is liked by everyone". – Chocolate Jun 27 '17 at 4:33
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    I know you have a lot of understanding of Japanese -- 日本語母語話者だから当たり前やと思いますけど... you're making a common mistake. Do you mean, I'm making a mistake that's commonly made by native Japanese speakers? 好かれる is used as a polite form-- Sorry, I don't understand what you're trying to say. 「好かれる」is non-polite. Its polite form (丁寧形) is 「好かれます.」 I still don't understand your point, I'm afraid. According to my 国語辞典, the definitions of the auxiliary れる・られる and the verb 好く and their example sentences, the れる in 好かれる is 受け身の助動詞(passive auxiliary), rather than 尊敬の助動詞(honorific auxiliary). – Chocolate Jun 27 '17 at 8:02

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