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I am a bit confused using suki (na) or kirai (na) directly with a noun.

I read that for instance suki na hito means "person (i) like" or suki na shigoto "work (i) like". Why does this not simply translate as "a nice person" "a nice job"?

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    Well you could argue that "person I like" and "nice person" have very similar meanings (unless for some reason you like horrible people), but the simple reason is that 'suki' means 'like' and not 'nice'. I think you need to clarify your problem a little more. – user3856370 Nov 13 '20 at 15:09
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    a nice person is more like "yasashii hito" or "ii hito". "suki na hito" is literally "person who is liked" they are different nuances – Janusz ヤヌシュ Nov 13 '20 at 15:49
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    Note that like in English is a verb, and [好き]{suki} in Japanese is an adjective. A very tight and direct translation of [好き]{suki }[な]{na }[人]{hito} into English would be more like "liked person". You can tell whom the person is liked by, by whomever is marked as the topic (using the [は]{wa} particle), or by the context (since Japanese is a so-called "pro-drop" language, where the topic is generally omitted if possible). – Eiríkr Útlendi Nov 13 '20 at 18:11
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Because 好き doesn't mean "nice". There's no reason necessary, that's just the way it is.

Translations are always approximations, and the nearest approximation for the Japanese word 好き in English is "like".

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