This question is posted exactly because it's been answered a few times and various other sources describe it differently as well - varying degree to which one is preferred and why.
So far I've come across 7 different explanations (as I understood them):

  1. With たい you use が (I don't think this is frequent)
  2. With たい you should use が, but sometimes people would use を
  3. With たい it is preferred to use が, but を is fine
  4. With たい you sometimes change を to が (no specific criteria)
  5. With たい you can use either, no preference no criteria
  6. With たい using が focuses the target of desire and を focuses the desire itself
  7. With たい there are various criteria that you use to decide between が and を, those outside can use either? Source: https://www.wasabi-jpn.com/japanese-grammar/how-to-express-desire/ - haven't found anything as specific elsewhere

What is the ultimate take? Is it one if these? A combination of them? Something completely different?
I feel like I do hear が comparatively more often, but haven't been able to infer a specific ruleset Thank you


I found some interesting papers about this topic. I think this is the best article for you.
「助詞「が」と「を」の置換性について」東山 篤規

He says that it used to be that が is the only correct choice, but in younger generations, the number of people who use を is increasing. There are some patterns where younger generations use を instead of が.

For example, when the verb is a pure static verb (such as できる or 好き), most people chose が, but when the verb is an action verb (such as 折りたい from 折る+たい, or 弾ける from 弾く+ける), people tend to use を.

And I also think it's interesting that, in sentences with longer context, using を feels more natural.

There are several conditions where younger generations use を instead が. I recommend you to read this article.

Ritsumeikan university is a famous private university in eastern Japan. I think this survey is reliable considering the literature level of the students.

As a young native Japanese speaker, I choose が or を unconsciously. I feel (and it's written in the article) that there are some cases where:

  1. が and を is interchangeable
  2. が is more natural
  3. を is more natural

Some people may say only が is correct because they learned it when they are children. But language is always changing!

  • 1
    折りたい←折る+たい、弾ける←弾く+ける <- 「折りたい」は動詞「折る」と助動詞「たい」から成りますが... 「弾ける」も、動詞「弾く」と助動詞「ける」から成る、っておっしゃってるように見えてしまうと思うんですが... あと、「He says that used to be が is only correct choice」はどういう意味ですか?
    – Chocolate
    Jul 6 '19 at 23:05
  • @Chocolate "He says that only が used to be the correct choice" / "He says that it used to be that が was the only correct choice" etc. It's not perfect, but I think the OP's English is fairly easily comprehensible by a native English speaker at least. Jul 7 '19 at 9:37
  • @user, Ahh now I understand. Thank you!
    – Chocolate
    Jul 7 '19 at 11:17
  • @Chocolate すいません、たしかに弾けるに関しては深く考えずに書いてしまいました。かつては「たい」に対して「を」を使う場合はなかったという旨です。質問者さんの1にあたります。
    – tatmius
    Jul 7 '19 at 12:03
  • 文法をよりナチュラルにするように言葉遣いを多少調整しました。(^^) Jul 9 '19 at 15:42

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