Like It or Love It?: The Difference Between 好きです and 大好きです in Japanese :There are different levels to how much enjoyment we get out of things—or even people! We can just “like” them, or we could even go so far as to “love” them. Today, we’re going to learn how to express to what degree we like something (or someone) by use of the words 好き (suki) and 大好き (dai-suki).    

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Like It or Love It?: The Difference Between 好きです and 大好きです in Japanese

Suki (like), when written using kanji, looks like this:

好き

The first character is a combination of two kanji radicals. The radical to the left is 女 (onna), which means “woman,” and the radical to the right is 子 (ko), which means “child.” Putting the two radicals together to form one kanji character gives us a woman and a child (or mother and child). This is where the meaning of “like” (and sometimes “love”) comes from.

The second character is the hiragana character “ki.”

Dai-suki (love), when written in kanji, looks like this:

大好き 

It is the same as suki, but “dai” (big) has been added to the beginning. Therefore, translated literally, dai-suki means “big like.”

Both suki and dai-suki can function as nouns, naadjectives, or adverbs. Suki can also function as a compound noun by attaching it to the end of another noun. (For example, “Yama-zuki” [mountain-lover], “Neko-zuki” [cat-lover], etc.)

Let’s take a look at some examples below to learn how to use “suki” and “dai-suki” in a sentence.  

好き (Suki) /大好き (Dai-suki):  

When we express that we like something in Japanese, a good sentence pattern to follow for beginners is the one below:

(Subject) + wa + (object) + ga + suki (+ desu)

So, if we want to say “I like dogs,” here’s how we would fit it into the pattern:

I + wa + dogs + ga + suki

Here’s what it looks like in Japanese:

Watashi wa inu ga suki.

If we want to say “I love dogs,” the pattern is exactly the same, except we substitute “suki” with “dai-suki” like so:

Watashi wa inu ga dai-suki

Here are a few more examples using different subjects.

Anata wa pizza ga suki deshou? 
(You like pizza, right?)
Kanojo wa ice cream ga dai-suki. 
(She loves ice cream.)
Takahiro wa anime ga suki. 
(Takahiro likes anime.)

The exception to this pattern is when contrasting likes and dislikes in the same sentence. In this situation, “ga” changes to “wa.”

Kare-tachi wa o-niku wa suki desu ga, buta-niku wa suki dewa arimasen. 
(They like meat, but they don’t like pork.)

(NOTE: The “ga” in the center after “desu” is used as the conjunction “but.”)

Used in the Negative (Suki/Dai-suki):

When expressing the negative we add particlesdewa” or “ja” to the end of suki. We then follow it by adding negative verbsarimasen” or “nai.” Dewa arimasen, dewa nai, and ja nai are all different ways of expressing “don’t like” when paired with suki. Dewa arimasen is the most formal, dewa nai is less formal, and the least formal is ja nai.

Takahashi-san wa green peas ga suki dewa nai. 
(Mr. Takahashi doesn’t like green peas.)

Watashi wa anata ga suki ja nai! (I don’t like you!)

Koumori wa akarui tokoro ga suki dewa arimasen. (Bats don’t like bright places.)

Used As a Question (Suki/Dai-suki):

When forming questions, the same sentence pattern applies.

(Subject) + wa + (object) + ga + suki (+ desu)

Anata wa nani ga suki? 
(What do you like?)
Kare wa sushi ga suki desu ka? 
(Does he like sushi?)
Tabemono wa nani ga suki desu ka? 
(What food do you like?)
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Let’s Make a Conversation!:

Now, let’s take some of the key points above and put them into a conversation. Below, a young boy and girl are sitting on the pier at the famous date spot Minato-Mirai in Yokohama. The boy is in love with the girl, but she doesn’t share the same feelings. Let’s take a look at what they have to say. 

BOY: Boku wa kimi no koto ga suki desu. (I like you.)
GIRL: Watashi ga suki nan da… (You like me, huh…)
BOY: Kimi wa, boku no koto mo suki desu ka? (Do you like me too?)
GIRL: Suki dakedo, dai-suki dewa nai. (I like you, but I don’t love you.)
BOY: Dou iu fuu suki desu ka? (In what way do you like me?)
GIRL: “Dai-suki” to iu no wa, couple no hanashi deshou? (If I say, “I love you,” then that means we’re a couple, right?)
BOY: Sou desu ne. (Yup.)
GIRL: Watashi wa anata ga suki dakedo, couple no hanashi ja nai. Tomodachi toshite wa dou? (I like you, but I’m not talking about being a couple. How about we be just friends?)
BOY: Yada! Sayonnara! (No! Goodbye!)  

Ouch! Well, at least he learned a good lesson about the difference between suki and dai-suki.

Now, it’s your turn to get out there and practice! Take what you’ve learned today and tell a Japanese speaker what you “suki” and what you “dai-suki.” You might find that your speaking partner also likes and loves the same things you do! So, get out there, practice your Japanese, and make a friend today!

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