3.3 Describing Likes and Dislikes

In this module, we will focus on a simple sentence pattern to express your likes and dislikes using adjectives: 好(す)き (suki) and 嫌(きら)い (kirai).

In Japanese, expressing likes and dislikes is a bit different from English. Instead of using verbs, you will use adjectives! The word for ‘likeable’ is 好(す)き(な) (suki[na]), and the word for dislikeable is 嫌(きら)い(な)(kirai[na]).

Here is how you can structure a sentence to say that you like something:

私(わたし)は Y が好きです。

Watashi wa Y ga suki desu.

I like Y [literally, ‘For me, Y is likeable’].

To replace ‘likeable’ with ‘dislikeable’, you simply replace 好き (suki) with 嫌い (kirai). Don’t use the final な at this stage.

If you want to express a stronger level of liking or disliking, you use the word 大(だい)(dai) before 好き and 嫌い to mean ‘very’. So you can say 大好き (dai suki) for ‘love’ and 大嫌い (dai kirai) for ‘strongly dislike’.

For example, if you are a lover of ramen (ラーメン [らあめん]: raamen), you can say:


Ramen Noodles
Figure 1: Ramen Noodles


Watashi wa raamen ga dai suki desu.

I love ramen [literally, ‘For me, ramen is very likeable’].


Now, let’s explore three important points to remember when using this pattern at this stage.

Point 1. Use a noun in the position marked by Y

A noun or a verb can be placed in the position of Y in the sentence pattern ‘XはYが好きです。’. However, to keep it simple, using a noun in the position of Y is recommended because it does not require any conjugations.


Point 2. Use the particle が after Y

Make sure you use the particle が (ga), instead of the particle は (wa), when you first state what you like and dislike with the adjectives 好き and 嫌い.

However, when contrasting two opposing ideas of liking and disliking, you can use the particle は.

For example:

Figure 2: Tomato Juice


Watashi wa tomato ga suki desu.

I like tomatoes [literally, ‘For me, tomatoes are likeable’].


Demo, tomato juusu wa kirai desu.

But, I dislike tomato juice [literally, ‘But tomato juice is dislikeable’].


The word でも (demo) is a conjunction that links two contrasting sentences. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with it yet – you will learn all about how to use it later in Module 5.5!

Point 3. Opt for softer expressions instead of using 嫌い (kirai) and 大嫌い (dai kirai)

It is worth considering that the adjectives 嫌い and 大嫌い carry a strong negative connotation.

When you want to express that you don’t particularly like something, it is safer and more natural to negate 好きです and use the expression ‘Yがあまり好きじゃないです (Y ga amari suki ja nai desu), which translates to ‘I don’t really like Y’.

Here, the adverb あまり, meaning ‘not very much’, is used in a negative sentence and placed before 好きじゃないです. You can use this expression to convey your preference without sounding overly negative or strong.

We will delve deeper into the negative ending じゃないです (ja nai desu) in Module 5.2.

Exercise 1

To provide a comprehensive understanding of how to use 好き and 嫌い in your conversations, the second section will guide you through formulating sentences and crafting appropriate responses.



To ask someone whether they like something or someone, use the following sentence pattern for questions:

Y は好きですか。

Y wa suki desu ka.

Do you like Y? [Literally, ‘Is Y likeable?’]

As shown, you simply add the question particle か at the end. In this context, it is more natural to use the particle は, instead of が, when first posing the question without any prior information about the topic.

Also, remember that in Japanese, it’s often more natural and polite to use the person’s name instead of the pronoun ‘you’ (あなた: anata). Don’t forget to add さん (san) after the name!

So for example, to ask if someone named Ms Yoshida likes fish, which is 魚 (さかな: sakana) in Japanese, without any prior information about the topic, you would ask:


Yoshida-san, sakana wa suki desu ka.

Do you like fish, Ms Yoshida?

Affirmative response

To answer the above question in the affirmative, you would say:


Hai, suki desu.

Yes, I do [literally, ‘Yes, it’s likeable’].

Negative response

To answer the above question in the negative, you would say:


Iie, amari suki janai desu.

No, I don’t really like it [literally, ‘No, it’s not very likeable’].


Exercise 2


1 “Ramen Noodles” (untitled) by Quang Anh Ha Nguyen. Pexels. Licensed under Pexels licence.

2 “Tomato Juice” (untitled). Uncredited. PxHere. Licenced under CC 0.





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Japanese Introductory 1 Copyright © 2024 by Iori Hamada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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