7

英語が上手になりたい is the correct way to say it, and I have always considered 英語を上手になりたい incorrect. I occasionally see/hear the を version from native speakers, but it didn't bother me that much, thinking that this is a mistake that native speakers may also make. But I have been seeing and hearing more of that lately. Today, on two separate occasions two native speakers (mis)corrected beginner learners' ~が上手になりたい to ~を上手になりたい, and I finally flipped the table and came here to put this as a question to the community.

The Internet seems to abound with such examples:

アメリカ人のように英語を上手になりたいので練習(勉強)するとします。(source)

漠然と英語を上手になりたい、と思っていた時と違って何をいつまでにしないといけないかが分かるので、出来そうな気がしますよね。(source)

3
  • 2
    Related: Usage of ~を好き outside of embedded clauses Please also take a look at the article posted as a comment; it says the usage of を is increasing in younger generations.
    – naruto
    Jul 28, 2022 at 1:10
  • As I understood it, your doubt is not so much about the frequently asked question on the interchangeability between が and を with the たい-form of a verb as it is about the use of を with an intransitive verb like なる. Isn’t it right?
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 28, 2022 at 8:24
  • @aguijonazo I think so.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jul 28, 2022 at 17:00

2 Answers 2

4

In my opinion, が上手になりたい and を上手になりたい sound equally correct, but I understand it if others claim the latter is incorrect. At least, ~を上手 is not always correct.

  • ✅英語が好きになりたい / ✅英語を好きになりたい
  • ✅英語が好きになる本 / ✅英語を好きになる本
  • ✅彼は英語が好きだ / ❌彼は英語を好きだ
  • ✅英語が上手になりたい / ✅英語を上手になりたい
  • ✅英語が上手になる本 / ❌英語を上手になる本
  • ✅彼は英語が上手だ / ❌彼は英語を上手だ

According to Higashiyama, more and more young people have started to use を with words like ~たい, 好き, できる, etc. In particular, he found を tended to be more common when combined with ~にする/なる.

東山篤規. 助詞「が」と「を」の置換性について ─文例と世代の比較─ (PDF)

本調査の結果では,希望,好悪,能力などを表すことばを文末に置く場合と,そのことばのうしろに「・・・ようにした」とか「・・・ようになった」を置いて柔らかく表現したとき(課題文 15,17)や体言を修飾したときには(課題文 16,18),「が」の選択頻度が減少し「を」の頻度が有意に上昇した。 もし外国語学習が助詞の選択に効果をもつとすれば,文の構造にかかわらず同じ効果が現れると考えられるが,調査の結果は今見たように,希望,好悪,能力などを表すことばで言い切ったときに「が」の選択頻度が高くなるのである(課題文 10~ 13)。


「したい」のように希望を表すことばが述部に置かれたとき,その対象を「が」によって表すことが元々の日本語であるとすれば(佐久間,1959),近年では徐々に「が」の代わりに「を」が用いられるようになり,本調査の青年にいたっては,「が」と「を」の頻度が逆転して「を」を使うことが多数化している

He gives two possible reasons for this shift:

  • English may have influenced the grammar of Japanese.
  • The particle が may risk making the sentence sound too strong because が has an exhaustive-listing function.
5
  • What troubled me was how two young native speakers seemed to think がなりたい was incorrect...
    – Eddie Kal
    Jul 28, 2022 at 4:44
  • 1
    @EddieKal They shouldn't have corrected it, and I also am a little surprised that there are now people who even feel が is wrong. BTW, like 上手, 英語を得意になりたい sounds okay to me but 英語を得意です is (still) definitely unnatural. Japanese is hard...
    – naruto
    Jul 28, 2022 at 4:49
  • 1
    So why ✅英語を好きになる本, but not ❌英語を上手になる本? Seems arbitrary.
    – Will
    Jul 28, 2022 at 8:04
  • @Will I have no idea. It's...arbitrary.
    – naruto
    Jul 28, 2022 at 8:37
  • Maybe that specific sentence pair could be opened as a separate question? I think it’s interesting Jul 28, 2022 at 14:56
3

This is only my opinion, but I would say it is acceptable but still incorrect. It’s definitely less correct than the version with が.

I read the version with が this way.

(私は)[英語が上手]になりたい。

The part I put in brackets describes the desired state for the speaker.

In contrast, I read the version with を this way.

(私は)[英語]を上手になりたい。

This is incorrect because 上手になる is not supposed to take a direct object to be marked with を. On the other hand, it is acceptable because 上手になる means the same as 上達する and 英語を上達する is somewhat acceptable, although 英語を上達させる should be more correct. 英語 can be seen as an object of deliberate improving.

Unlike a similar sentence with 好き, the following statement would be totally unacceptable.

x(私は)英語を上手だ。

This is because the adjective 上手 by itself doesn’t seem to work towards any object, unlike 好き. It’s more static, so to speak. It is the change indicated by なる that is making を somewhat acceptable.

It doesn’t always work, though, as the following is not acceptable.

x(私は)頭をよくなりたい。

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .