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It seems the native speakers often use this sentence 食べて飲みたい to mean I want to eat and drink, but I think it should be considered I eat and want to drink. When I say that, I will use 食べたり飲んだりしたい. So how does 食べて飲みたい work? It can be seen by me as 食べる+飲みたい, but hardly as 食べて飲む+たい.

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  • There is no grammatical reason to think the English sentence means I want (to eat and drink) instead of I want (to eat) and drink, is there?
    – sundowner
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 3:12

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食べて飲みたい sounds a bit informal to me, unless what you want to do is perform the two actions of 食べる and 飲む one after the other in that order. If that’s not what you mean and you want to be engaged in one activity where eating and drinking are involved, it would be much more natural to say 食べたり飲んだりしたい as you suggest.

The V1-て V2-たい construction sounds completely natural when the order of V1 and V2 is important. This also includes cases where the association with て indicates method or attendant circumstances.

居酒屋に行って飲みたい。[sequential actions / means]

学校に行って勉強したい。[means]

新しい服を着て出かけたい。[attendant circumstances]

Rephrasing these with V1-たり V2-たりしたい would change their meanings.

While it may not be impossible for たい to be associated with only V2 in some contexts, that is much less likely. In most cases, たい works on the whole of V1-て V2. The semantic link between V1 and V2 tends to be stronger.

Even in the case of 食べて飲みたい, where the two verbs are rather independent from each other, most people would still understand it as [食べて飲み]たい unless context strongly suggests otherwise. I cannot think of a good example for such contexts.

If V1 is not part of your desire but something you already plan to do, then you should probably consider some other way to say it. For example, the following two sentences mean two different things.

近くまで行って会いたい。

近くまで行くので会いたい。

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  • Thanks for your answer. I also heard of some usages like V1-て-V2-ればorよう, for example 君はこちらへ行って、私はそちらへ行けば... Are these usages informal?To my ears these are abnormal. Maybe they are the same as V1-て V2-たい ?
    – nudi
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 5:54
  • @nudi - On the syntactical level, they are all normal. Whether they make sense semantically depends on the combination of verbs and the context in which they are used.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 9:41
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It might seem counterintuitive to use this kind of grammatical construction, but wording it like this implies that you want to do the two actions together or at the same time. You can certainly say 食べたり飲んだりしたい, but it has the implication of not necessarily doing them at the same time. This expression might be more appropriate if you were talking about, for example, traveling.

メキシコに行って、食べたり飲んだりをしたいです。

"I want to go to Mexico and eat and drink."

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    Not sure if you intended this but your last example can be seen as a case where たい works on both the verb before て (in this case 行く) and the one(s) after.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 0:56

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