568 - ～がる
If you're an English-speaking barbarian like me, then you probably say sentences like these from time to time:
- My dad wants to see the new Star Wars movie.
- My daughter doesn't want to eat any animal products.
- There are a lot of people that get annoyed by the ads in their mail.
These sentences have to be changed a bit when we're speaking Japanese because in Japanese we do not assume what other people want or feel.
Instead, the Japanese (which we'll look at in depth in just a moment) looks a bit more like:
- My dad seems to want to see the new Star Wars movie.
- My daughter appears to not want to eat any animal products.
- There are a lot of people that seem to get annoyed by the ads in their email.
We can also quote people―for example, "My dad said that he wants to see the new Star Wars movie"―but that's not the focus of this lesson!
While I used verbs like "seem" and "appear" above, neither of them are the perfect equivalent of what we're looking at in this lesson, which is...
JLPT N4: ～がる (seem to ～; apparently ～; act like one is ～)
The best way to explain ～がる, I think, is to look at the i-adjective 欲しい (ほしい), meaning "wanted" or "wished for."
We had an entire lesson on this before: [NDL #378] - JLPT N5: がほしい.
N5 Review: 欲しい！
wanted; desired; wished for
English: "I want something."
Japanese: "Something が ほしい."
Perhaps the most glaring difference between these two sentence formations is that while "want" is a verb, 欲しい is an i-adjective.
So a more direct translation of "something が ほしい" might be "something is wanted by me." Only the Japanese is much simpler.
While the concept of using adjectives in Japanese the way we use verbs in English can be a little difficult to grasp at first, it does feel totally natural in time. An example:
わたし は シャネル の バッグ が ほしい です。
I want a Chanel bag.
Literally: "I + は + Chanel + の + bag / purse + が + wanted + です."
I want a bag.
↑ Got it?
Now, that's how we use 欲しい to say what we personally want.
But when we want to talk about what other people want, we would use ～がる.
欲しい（ほしい // wanted; wished for）
→ 欲しがる（ほしがる // to seem to be wanted / wished for）
Here's an example:
のらいぬ が たべもの を ほしがって、 そば に よって きた。
Wanting something to eat, a stray dog came up to me.
Literally: “stray dog + が + food + を + seems to want (and), + beside / near / close + に + came up to (=approach [and] came).”
Note: While we use the particle が before 欲しい, the particle を is used with 欲しがる, as we can see in this example.
And as I implied before, this example shows how ～がる is used when describing other people's (or in this case, other animals') emotions and feelings... rather than assuming that you know others' feeling the way that we do in English.
👷 Construction 👷
In case you didn't notice just now, we attach ～がる to i-adjectives by simply dropping the い and adding ～がる.
Here's one more:
痛い（いたい // painful; hurting）
→ 痛がる（いたがる // to seem to be hurting / in pain）
かれ は けが を する と おおげさ に いたがる。
He exaggerates about how much pain he's in when he gets hurt.
Literally: “he + は + injury + を + do + と + exaggerated + に + seems to be in pain.”
We can also attach ～がる to na-adjectives.
This is even easier. Just snap it right onto the end of a na-adjective and you're good to go:
残念（ざんねん // disappointed; regretful）
→ 残念がる（ざんねんがる // to seem disappointed）
てらしまさん が これない と きいて、 かのじょ は とても ざんねんがっている。
She seems very disappointed to hear that Terashima-san cannot come.
Literally: “Terashima-san + が + cannot come + と + hear (and), + she + は + very + seeming disappointed.”
We don't necessarily have to be talking about specific people, either. We can also generalize:
迷惑（めいわく // troubling; bothersome; annoying）
→ 迷惑がる（めいわくがる // to seem bothered / annoyed）
ちらし の ポスティング を めいわくがる ひと は おおい。
There are a lot of people that get annoyed by the ads in their mail.
Literally: “leaflets / flyers + の + posting + を + seem to be annoyed / bothered + person + は + many.”
Wanting to ～がる
One thing that has the potential to throw you off is that ～がる can attach to the ～たい form.
We've had a lesson on this form before, too: [NDL #427] - JLPT N5: ～たい.
It took me about four years to realize this, but ～たい form verbs are actually i-adjectives:
見る（みる // to see）
→ 見たい（みたい // want to see）
→ → 見たがる（みたがる // to seem to want to see）
食べる（たべる // to eat）
→ 食べたい（たべたい // want to eat）
→ → 食べたがる（たべたがる // to seem to want to eat）
↑ If you can't make these conjugations yourself, you need to go back and review this lesson.
Here is (～たい→) ～たがる in some examples:
おとうさん は スター・ウォーズ の しんさく えいが を みたがっています。
My dad wants to see the new Star Wars movie.
Literally: “dad + は + Star Wars + の + new work/production + movie + を + is seeming to want to see.””
むすめ は どうぶつせい の しょくひん を たべたがらない ので、 しょくじ の じゅんび が たいへん です。
Preparing meals is difficult because my daughter doesn’t want to eat any animal products.
Literally: “daughter + は + (from) animal + の + food products + を + seems to not want to eat + ので (=because), + meals + の + preparations + が + tough / difficult + です.”
And you've made it to the end!
This is one of those grammar points that I came across relatively early in my studies but put off mastering for far too long. If you're at a high enough level to understand most of the sentences above, then I recommend drilling this grammar point as many times as is necessary to be able to bust it out in a conversation.
It will come in handy. I promise you.