Expressing Japanese Likes and Dislikes
- Free Japanese Lessons: 9

Japanese likes and dislikes are actually na-adjectives. This is different from what we have learned in English where both "likes" and "dislikes" are verbs.

The Japanese word for "like" is 好き (suki) and the one for "dislike" is 嫌い (kirai).

Japanese Likes and Dislikes

At this moment, try avoiding using them to express your feelings towards people because suki and kirai can mean "love" and "hate" respectively when you say that to a person.

Only use them towards people when you have a good grasp of the language.

So how do you use Japanese likes and dislikes to express your feelings towards something in a Japanese sentence?

Sentence Patterns

It's best to learn by memorizing the sentence patterns. Take a look at the following patterns...

Subject は Noun すきです
Subject wa Noun ga suki desu
Meaning: Subject likes Noun.

Subject は Noun きらいです
Subject wa Noun ga kirai desu
Meaning: Subject dislikes/hates Noun.

Take note that since すき (suki) and きらい (kirai) are adjectives, particle が (ga) is used in the expressions. So using some examples...

  • わたしはねこすきです。
    watashi wa neko ga suki desu
    Meaning: I like cat.
  • わたしわいぬきらいです。
    watashi wa inu ga kirai desu
    Meaning: I dislike dog.

Since Japanese likes and dislikes are na-adjectives, you need to add "ではありません" (dewa arimasen) at the end in order to form the negative form, just like...

suki dewa arimasen
Meaning: don't like.

kirai dewa arimasen
Meaning: don't dislike.

Yes/No Questions in Japanese Like and Dislike Sentences

It's simple to turn the Japanese like and dislike sentences into questions by adding the particle か (ka) at the end, such as...

  • あなたはねこがすきです
    anata wa neko ga suki desu ka
    Meaning: Do you like cat?

You have to answer yes or no in this type of question.

  • はい、わたしはねこがすきです。
    hai, watashi wa neko ga suki desu
    Meaning: Yes, I like cat. 
  • いいえ、わたしはねこ すきではありません。
    iie, watashi wa neko ga wa suki dewa arimasen
    Meaning: No, I don't like cat.

When answering "no" to a yes/no question, always remember to change the particle が (ga) to は (wa). Please don't forget this grammar rule.

Using どんな (donna) to Ask Questions

If you want to ask questions like "What Noun do you like?" or "What kind of Noun do you like?", use the question word どんな (donna).

For example, if you want to ask someone "What dish does he like?" or "What kind of dish does he like?...

  • Question: どんなりょうりがすきですか。 (donna ryouri ga suki desu ka)

    Answer 1: にほんりょうりがすきです。 (nihon ryouri ga suki desu)
    Meaning: I like Japanese dish. (giving one particular name)

    Answer 2: あまいりょうりがすきです。 (amai ryouri ga suki desu)
    Meaning: I like sweet dish. (describing the category with adjective)

Asking for Preference Using the Adjective いい (ii)

Other than questions for Japanese likes and dislikes, if you wish to ask someone for his/her preference, use the i-adjective いい (ii) instead.

See the following expression...

Topic はどれが いいですか
Topic wa dore ga ii desu ka

Meaning: Which Topic do you prefer?

Using an example to show the expression...

  • Question: ペンはどれがいいですか。 (pen wa dore ga ii desu ka)
    Answer 1: ペンはこれがいいです。 (pen wa kore ga ii desu)
    Answer 2: ペンはこのあかいペンがいいです。 (pen wa kono akai pen ga ii desu)

    Question: Which pen do you prefer?
    Answer 1: I prefer this pen.
    Answer 2: I prefer this red pen.

When there are only 3 or 4 choices, use the question word どれ (dore). When there more than 4 choices use the question word なに (nani).

  • Question: ばんごはんはなにがいいですか。
    bangohan wa nani ga ii desu ka
    Meaning: What dishes do you prefer for dinner?

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