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I was reading an example sentence:

僕が好きなのは日本料理ではなくタイ料理だ

Here, I understand that 僕 is the subject in the first part of the sentence 僕が好きなのは. But as I understand the sentence as a whole, it means that:

I like not Japanese dishes but Thai dishes.

But 好き describes the subject as the one being liked. 僕 is not the one we like, right?

Is it correct to say that 僕が好きなのは日本料理ではなくタイ料理だ can also be written:

僕が好きな料理は日本料理ではなくタイ料理だ?

What verb is then 僕 the subject for?

2 Answers 2

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But 好き describes the subject as the one being liked. 僕 is not the one we like, right?

In main clauses, yes, this is true. In "AはBが好きだ", B is the one being liked. However, in relative clauses, you cannot use は, and both A and B can be marked with が:

  • AはBが好きだ。
    A likes B. (literally: As for A, B is a favorite).
  • ____Bが好きなA
    A who likes B
    (A has been pulled out)
  • A____好きなB
    B which A likes
    (B has been pulled out, and Aは has been changed to Aが)

See my previous answers, too:

Your sentence is a cleft sentence, which involves a type of relative clause before the の. This means 僕が好きなのはXだ is indeed an ambiguous sentence that can technically mean either of the following:

  • The thing I like is X. / It's X that I like.
  • The one who likes me is X. / It's X who likes me.

In your sentence, X corresponds to 日本料理ではなくタイ料理 ("not Japanese dishes but Thai dishes"), which never loves a person. So the only possible interpretation is the former.

Practically speaking, in more than 90% of the time, 僕が好きなのはXだ should mean "It's X that I like". But in the following context, 僕が好きなのはXだ clearly means "It's X who like(s) me".

この4人の女の子は、みんな太郎と僕のどちらかのことが好きだ。太郎のことが好きなのはAさんとBさんで、僕が好きなのはCさんとDさん
All these four girls like either Taro or me. It's A and B who like Taro, and it's C and D who like me.

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  • Thanks, the articles were super useful!
    – firuvi
    Feb 8, 2022 at 18:02
  • So if I understand it now, it is ambiguous because we don't know if this が is a は used in a relative clause that has become a が?
    – firuvi
    Feb 8, 2022 at 18:36
  • @firuvi Yes, but as explained in this answer, there is a way to disambiguate. 僕の好きなのはXだ only means "It's X that I like". 僕のことが好きなのはXだ and 僕を好きなのはXだ only mean "It's X who likes me".
    – naruto
    Feb 9, 2022 at 6:55
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僕がすきなのは is the な form of です, modifying の which is a noun that stands in for the 料理... 僕が is the subject of すきです.

The thing that I like. The one that I like.

"The food that I like is Thai, not Japanese."

You could say.. "It is Thai food that I like, not Japanese (food)."

If it were 僕がすきな料理は then it is still the subject of すきな. "The cooking that I like."

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  • Yes, but doesn't having 僕 be the subject of 好きだ change the logic of the sentence? That's where I'm confused, because 好き is not a verb, so it doesn't have a direct object.
    – firuvi
    Feb 7, 2022 at 15:38
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    Normally you would say 僕はタイ料理が好きだ。 But the use of のは forces you to change 僕は to 僕が because you can't have two topic markers. Maybe also there's an element of possessive in the が in this sense because you could also say 僕の好きなのは. "My favourite cooking is...". Feb 7, 2022 at 16:06
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    @firuvi This might be of help: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/9788/30454 There are other similarly focused answers but off the top of my head I can't remember them.
    – Eddie Kal
    Feb 7, 2022 at 17:12
  • Also see Tonky's answers at forum.wordreference.com/threads/… Feb 7, 2022 at 18:00
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    @OliverSlay You can have two topic markers. What you can't do is use a topic marker in a relative clause, though. Feb 8, 2022 at 1:40

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