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~たい question

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~たい question

Postby ピーター » Thu 07.29.2010 6:51 am

Greetings all.
I almost feel silly making a thread about such a minor point, but this has been bugging me for a while. :sweatdrop: With the ~たい ending added to a verb to express a desire to do something, why, when in the negative form, is it sometimes conjugated as ~たくないです? According to Genki it conjugates it as an い-adjective, and the example sentences for the grammar point all follow the ~たくありません pattern I would expect based off of that, but later on the book the ~たくないです form starts appearing in some exercises, such as in the one of the questions:

どんな人になりたくないですか。

Are both forms equally correct and it's merely a question of the writer's preferred style, or is there something I'm missing here?

Thanks in advance for any help. :)
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Re: ~たい question

Postby NileCat » Thu 07.29.2010 11:59 am

Hi ピーター,

I didn't think your question was silly or minor. Because those differences are that even we natives sometimes find difficult to use properly.
But, because I'm not quite sure how much you are familiar with Japanese polite expressions, let me begin with the basic form.

~たい
e.g. 有名な人になりたい。I want to be a famous man.
(ゆうめいなひとになりたい)
"naru" means "become" here. "tai" can deliver the sense of desire.
"naru" (dictionary form) alters to nari when it's followed by -tai.
But, because it's only a basic form, it doesn't contain any polite expression in it.
The easiest way to make a polite expression is simple. We only add -desu at the end.
有名な人になりたいです。

When you want to make a negative sentence. 
なる+たい → なる+たくない = なりたくない

有名な人になりたくない。( basic/casual )
And you can make a polite form by adding the -desu as well.
有名な人になりたくないです。( polite )

BUT, there exist some other ways to express politeness in the sentence.
A common expression is to use a negative word ありません here.
有名な人になりたくありません。
And because this form is more difficult to make, it is considered to be more polite than the simple -desu form. And you could suppose the reason that we have more variety in "negative expression" than "positive expression". Because it should be polite when you convey a negative meaning in many cases. JFYI, more polite expression is "有名な人になりたくございません".


Regarding the question form:
どんな人になりたくないですか? is fine. Polite enough in many cases.
But as a more polite expression, we use
どんな人になりたくありませんか?

Hope it helps.
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Re: ~たい question

Postby ピーター » Thu 07.29.2010 3:56 pm

Thank you for your reply and help. :)

I'd initially considered that it might be something to do with politeness, but I didn't realise there were quite so many nuances, and dismissed that thought as I presumed a です and an ありません ending would be on the same politeness level. I know about about some of the varying politeness levels, but tended to group those items together, I didn't think such intricate details could have such an effect on politeness. :blush: It's certainly a fascinating topic, to say the least.

Now that I've been told, it certainly seems logical that ありません would be more polite however, given the tendancy for polite terms to be longer. The part about having more options in the negative makes sense as well now.

Your post has indeed been a massive help, as this was an issue which was really bothering me - it makes me feel uncertain in my studies when I see things which I've studied and feel I should understand but don't.
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Re: ~たい question

Postby NileCat » Thu 07.29.2010 4:17 pm

I know exactly what you mean.
Because I always find problems something like that in my English study.
Please feel free to make a correction if you find mistakes in my posts.
:)
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Re: ~たい question

Postby furrykef » Thu 07.29.2010 8:50 pm

This actually applies to all i-adjectives, not just たい forms:

Positive: 青いです
Negative: 青くありません、青くないです

(It doesn't apply to -ます verbs, though: 食べません, not 食べないです... though I think the latter does occur in some dialects and maybe really colloquial speech, just not Standard Japanese)

I think -- I'm ridiculously far from an expert, here -- that the difference between the ないです and ありません forms is more a matter of formality than politeness, which is slightly different (though obviously the two overlap heavily). For instance, the way you talk to a stranger in the street, though it may be very polite, tends to be less formal than the way you'd talk to somebody in writing, or in a formal ceremony. For instance, using contractions in English ("it's", "I'm", etc., etc.) is informal, but not impolite.

I've had people correcting my Japanese writing on the web change 青くないです to 青くありません and I've had others do it the other way around. Sometimes you can't win, really. :)
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Re: ~たい question

Postby NileCat » Fri 07.30.2010 3:38 am

furrykef, you're absolutely right!
I mixed up politeness and formality.

Regarding your very interesting remark:
furrykef wrote:I've had people correcting my Japanese writing on the web change 青くないです to 青くありません and I've had others do it the other way around. Sometimes you can't win, really.

At your high level, I can easily imagine that you find many corrections you get by native people illogical.
Let me offer a quick and dirty tip to win . :P
Try 青くないです instead of 青くないです when you don't want to say ありません.
This "ん" can give a kind of "natural feeling" to your sentence for some reason in many cases. :)
Last edited by NileCat on Sat 07.31.2010 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ~たい question

Postby furrykef » Fri 07.30.2010 4:02 am

NileCat wrote:At your high level

I think you greatly overestimate my level... :lol: I'm still intermediate at best. Thanks for the tip, though :)
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Re: ~たい question

Postby NileCat » Sat 07.31.2010 8:09 am

No, furrykef. I mean it.
Fluency is kinda different from understanding. In Japan, even idiots :roll: speak Japanese "fluently". I don't assume their levels are high. :D
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Re: ~たい question

Postby ピーター » Sat 07.31.2010 8:23 am

Ah, thanks for the clarification in the subtle difference in this case between being more polite and being more formal. I assumed this pattern/ending would apply to all い-adjectives, so it's certainly nice to have that confirmed as well. It makes more sense now, as the difference in formality, now that I hear it, indeed seems perfectly logical.
The ~ないです ending is certainly less of a mouthful, so I can see why ~ありません would be more prevalent in written material.

Once more, thank you both for your kind help.
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