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I would like to learn how to say "I like to go bowling" rather than "I like bowling." That is, I want to emphasize that I like to do it, rather than that I like the sport in general.

I believe 「ボウリングが好きです。」 would be how you'd say "I like bowling (the sport)" but not necessarily that you like to do it yourself.

I see that ボウリング is a suru verb. Does that mean that I should change it to a verb and then noun-ify it with の as in 「ボウリングするのが好きです。」? Or would this be unnatural because ボウリング is already a noun?

  • good point... but I feel like in the case of bowling either would work as "I like to do it". But in sports like football, baseball, etc it would make the difference between being general or specifically stating you like to practice the sport – Felipe Oliveira Feb 26 at 16:13
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    If you like to do it more than you actually like the sport itself, what do you like about doing it? Is it the good memories with your group of friends? Is it some kind of nostalgia from when you were younger? Think about how you'd answer that, and emphasize those points. I believe this is a scenario that would require additional explanation to make your specific point; one phrase isn't gonna be enough to disambiguate your meanings. – istrasci Feb 26 at 16:24
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    @istrasci I think it's more like the difference between 'I like [to watch] football [on my couch]' and 'I like to play football'. – Mathieu Bouville Feb 26 at 18:35
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I don't know why ボウリング is categorized as a suru-verb in jisho.org, but sport names are generally just nouns in Japanese. Some English sport names are based on verbs ("to ski", "to fence", etc.), but they are still nouns in Japanese. You have to say スキーする, ボウリングする and so on in formal and standard Japanese. (But, as always, を can be omitted in colloquial language.)

ボウリングが好きです。
I like bowling. (unspecific)

ボウリングするのが好きです。
I like (to go) to bowl. (i.e., actually playing it myself)

If you want to be very explicit for some reason, you can add 実際に ("actually"). For example:

見るのではなくて、実際にボウリングをするのが好きです。


By the way, you can safely nominalize a (true) suru-verb with の, too. For example, 車の運転が好きです and 車を運転するのが好きです are both perfectly fine.

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