Japanese Lesson – The volitional たい form

Hello Everyone,

In this lesson I will present how you can express you want something using the たい form.


The たい form


The たい form is used to express willingness to do or have something (I want to…, I would like to…).

This form is generally called the volitional form.


The たい form is built as follows:

Type I and Type II verbs:

Type III verbs:

  • くる ⇒ きたい
  • する ⇒ したい


  • The たい form is not applicable to the copula.


  • Type I
    • 休む (やすむ) / to rest / ⇒ 休みたい (やすみたい) / (I) want to/wish i could rest/
  • Type II
    • 食べる (たべる) / to eat (something) / ⇒ 食べたい (たべたい) / (I) want to/wish I could eat (something) /

Note: I precise “something” here in the translation as you cannot use たべたい to say you are basically hungry. You use たべたい when you see something you find tasty and wish you could eat it. To say you are hungry you should use: おなか が すきました., and the same with 飲む (のむ) / to drink (something) /, to say you are thirsty you should say: のど が かわきました.

The たい form conjugations

One particularity of the たい form is that a verb at the たい form becomes an adjective, allowing you to say things such as “The house I want to buy is expansive.” where “I want to buy” is a qualificative for the house.


  • 買いたい家は高いです。 (かいたい うち は たかい です。) / (This is) the house I want to buy is expansive. /

As such it folllows the adjective conjugation rules to be declined according to the degree of politeness you want to express, or the tense, or positive/negative aspects.

Polite conjugations:

  • Polite positive present/future: たいです
  • Polite negative present/future:たくないです
  • Polite positive past: たかったです
  • Polite negative past: たなかったです

Casual conjugations:

  • Casual positive present/future: たい(だ)
  • Casual negative present/future:たくない
  • Casual positive past: たかった
  • Casual negative past: たなかった


  • 行きたかった場所です。 (いきたかった ばしょ です。) / (This was) the place where I wanted to go. /
  • 言いたくなかったことです。 (いいたくなかった こと です。) / (This was) a fact I did not want to say. /


Exercise 1:

Put the following verbs at the たい form:

  • 行く (いく) / to go /
  • 言う (いう) / to say /
  • 食べる (たべる) / to eat /
  • 買う (かう) / to buy /
  • 知る (しる) / to know /

Exercise 2:

Conjugate the following sentences putting the verb between brackets (「」) at the たい polite present positive, present negative, past positive and past negative forms:

  • ケーキが「食べる」。 (ケーキ が 「たべる」。) / cake / (focus) / (to eat) /
  • コーヒーが「飲む」。 (コーヒーが「のむ」。) . / coffee / (focus) / (to drink) /

Answers 1:

  • 行く ⇒ 行きたい (いきたい) / I want to go /
  • 言う ⇒ 言いたい (いいたい) / I want to say /
  • 食べる ⇒ 食べたい (たべたい) / I want to eat /
  • 買う ⇒ 買いたい (かいたい) / I want to buy /
  • 知る ⇒ 知りたい (しりたい) / I want to know /

Answers 2:

  • ケーキが「食べる」。
    • ケーキが食べたいです。 (ケーキ が たべたい です。) / I want to eat cake. /
    • ケーキが食べたくないです。 (ケーキ が たべたくない です。) / I don’t want to eat cake. /
    • ケーキが食べたかったです。 (ケーキ が たべたかった です。) / I wanted to eat cake. /
    • ケーキが食べたなかったです。 (ケーキ が たべたなかった です。) / I didn’t want to eat cake. /
  • コーヒーが「飲む」。
    • コーヒーが飲みたいです。 (コーヒー が のみたい です。) / I want to drink coffee. /
    • コーヒーが飲みたくないです。 (コーヒー が のみたくない です。) / I don’t want to drink coffee. /
    • コーヒーが飲みたかったです。 (コーヒー が のみたかった です。) / I wanted to drink coffee. /
    • コーヒーが飲みたくなかったです。 (コーヒー が のみたくなかった です。) / I did not want to drink coffee. /


Here it is for this lesson! Once again, this is not complicated, but you will need a little practice to master this form. And if you watch anime or drama, or read manga, you will see that this form is quite frequently used.



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