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I know there are already a few questions about this topic on this website, however none of them seemed to really help me with the issue.

The ~てほしい contruction is used to express that someone wants someone/something else to do something. Now, my problem is with the particle that is used to mark the person/thing that is supposed to carry out the desired action: Should it be が or に, or can it be both?

In most examples I saw, に was used. For example:

あなたに幸せになってほしい。

But occasionally, there were also examples with が. So I tried to think about a solution, and I came up with the idea that maybe が was only used to avoid misunderstandings, such as in the following example provided by Toshihiko in the answer to the question てほしい particle usage:

私はあなたが彼に英語を教えてほしい。
I want you to teach him English.

But then I found another example sentence:

冬が早く来て欲しい。
I want winter to come soon.

Here, the が doesn't seem to be used to avoid any misunderstandings because the sentence is simple enough as it is.

So after all, what determines if you should use が or に to mark the person or thing that should carry out the action when using the ~てほしい construction?

5

が is emphasizing the noun before it than に.

あなたに幸せになってほしい
I want you to be happy.

あなたが幸せになってほしい
I want YOU to be happy. It's not common and must be some important meaning on 'you'. More like dialogue in a movie.

Although I feel your second example is simply wrong. In this case we should use に. Even it has to be "you" who teach him English.

  • What would be the purpose of emphasizing 冬 in 冬が早く来て欲しい。? – Darius Jahandarie Sep 9 at 13:32
  • Totally depends on a context, but for me I can feel that a person awaiting winter who said that. It's very difficult which would be used, even a writer, I guess. – ゆるキャン Sep 9 at 20:55
  • @Darius, あ~確かに 「冬早く来てほしい」は言いそうですけど、「冬早く来て欲しい。」って言いませんよね・・なんででしょうね。。 – Chocolate Sep 12 at 7:37
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    I think 〜に probably requires some agency of the thing bring marked. – Darius Jahandarie Sep 12 at 14:33
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    ^ 「夏早く来てほしい」-- 「私は冬早く来てほしい」← Then, it means that (冬)に is more emphasized than (夏)が, no? – Chocolate Sep 13 at 3:04
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+50

Kimi Tanaka's answer

First I want to cite Kimi Tanaka's answer and he/she says that:

冬が早く来て欲しい

This is not simply a request, but you are hoping something to happen. 〜が...て欲しい does not supply a particular instruction though, it could be a request in a roundabout way. In this case, the winter does not listen to your request. So, 冬に早く来て欲しい is strange.

I agree to this explanation.

For general, XがYする means X does Y for X's own demand. And ZがXにYをさせる means Z makes X to do Y for Z's demand.

So like

冬が来る。 ("Winter comes.")

sounds natural while

冬に早く来て欲しい。

is strange because the winter comes no matter if you wish it to come earlier.

ゆるキャン's answer

ゆるキャン showed a good point and I agree to it.

Summary

I don't have no reference but I think:

  1. has emphasizing effect, but can easily be strange if you mention to things you can't control / ask to do something
  2. には has almost same effect of . In some cases には is effective to emphasize what you mention to.

Some examples here.

あなたに幸せになってほしい。 (Sounds natural)

あなたが幸せになってほしい。 (Sounds a bit strange but not invalid. It sounds like it emphasizes あなた)

あなたには幸せになってほしい。(Sounds way natural, and the speaker is not hoping another person's happiness but yours. Better emphasis than .)

彼にこの仕事をやってほしい (Natural. It means "I want him to do this job")

彼がこの仕事をやってほしい (Sounds wrong / invalid)

彼にはこの仕事をやってほしい (Natural, almost equivalent to version)

あの犬に元気になってほしい (Natural. It means "I hope that dog gets better.")

あの犬が元気になってほしい (Very strange, almost invalid)

あの犬には元気になってほしい (Natural, and perhaps more natural than version)

あなたに彼に英語を教えてほしい has another object 彼に in it and it causes difference to , , には usages.

あなたに彼に英語を教えてほしい (A bit strange, it's because the same postpositional particle occurs multiple times. It should be avoided.)

あなたが彼に英語を教えてほしい (Natural. There may be other people who can teach English but the speaker wishes YOU to teach him English.)

あなたには彼に英語を教えてほしい (Natural. The speaker assigns you to teach him English. It's unclear that there are more people who can teach English.)

and には has similar usage so they can be used to avoid the same postpositional particle to appear multiple times in one sentence.

  • 1
    Since あの犬に元気になってほしい is natural while 冬に早く来て欲しい is not because I have no control over Winter coming, does the former imply I'm doing/want to do something about it? Also, why is あなたが幸せになってほしい right, and 彼がこの仕事をやってほしい wrong? In both cases I can do something about it, so I'm not sure what's the difference. – Mauro Sep 20 at 7:43
  • 1. I'm not sure but in my feeling is frequently used to human and animals compared to other inanimate things. 2. Hard to explain but 彼がこの仕事をやってほしい is so strange.. anyway あなたが幸せになってほしい is not impossible but strange. I don't say like this. – Takumi Sueda Sep 20 at 17:49
2

あなたに幸せになってほしい。

This sentence implies encouraging the listener when the speaker will help the partner need to be happy.

In a similar way, next sentence is also kind of encouragement.

私はあなた彼に英語を教えてほしい。 I request/ask you to teach English.

This is the mix of emphatic "が" to specify the person and requesting/asking them to.

While,

冬が早く来て欲しい。I expect/look forward winter to coming soon.

This is not simply a request, but you are hoping something to happen. 〜が...て欲しい does not supply a particular instruction though, it could be a request in a roundabout way. In this case, the winter does not listen to your request. So, 冬に早く来て欲しい is strange.

ex) 電気が早く通ってほしい。 

Whether the electricity will immediately run during blackout/power outage is not really under your control. Saying so might indirectly be telling local governments/electric power companies to react on soon though.

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