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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

1 Answer 1

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I found some interesting papers about this topic. I think this is the best article for you.
http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/acd/cg/lt/rb/599/599pdf/higasiya.pdf
「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!

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  • 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, 2019 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, 2019 at 9:37
  • @user, Ahh now I understand. Thank you!
    – chocolate
    Jul 7, 2019 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, 2019 at 12:03
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    立命館大学リポジトリの改修によりリンクが死んでいるのに気がついたので、現在のリンクに変更しました。
    – tatmius
    Mar 28, 2021 at 6:46

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