How to Make New Year’s Resolutions in Japanese

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Photo by Becca Miller Design

新年明け shinnen akeましておめでとうございます (Happy New Year)!

So what do you want to do in the New Year? Whether you are hoping to study something, get ripped for summer or ask out that person you’ve had your eye on, the New Year is a time for making goals and sticking to them.

What’s the best way to make sure that you keep to your resolutions? Tell someone. Even better would be to practice your language skills by telling someone in Japanese. This may sound tricky to do, but luckily it needn’t be. Japanese actually has a lot of words for resolutions.

One of the first ones that learners study is the ~たい (want to~) ending to verbs. Using this pattern, やる becomes やりたい; する becomes したい, etc. This is always useful when describing things that you intend to do in Japanese.

If you want to talk about what other people want, you will often hear the ~たがる-ending being used. The ~がる part of this grammar point is used to add an element of uncertainty as obviously we can never be too sure about what’s really going on in other people’s minds.

The next one people learn is hoしい. You will often hear this word used as a stronger form of したい to talk about something that someone seriously wants. One of the interesting things is that this is an adjective, whereas in English this is a verb, so remember the usual form of this adjective is ~が欲しい instead of を欲しい (although it is occasionally used).

After that, the words get a little bit more difficult. A stronger word similar to 欲しい is the verb akogaれる which means “to long for something.” Much like the English equivalent, this verb is considered pretty strong and you will rarely hear it used in day-to-day life.

One interesting use of this verb that I found online was its use by bodybuilders to talk about their dream look. oきい muneに憧れる (I want to get a huge chest) is one of the many phrases that you will find along with famous person みたいになりたい (I want to look like “famous person”).

Another common form is verb + なることです. This grammar is used to say that you want to strongly do something. For example, at New Year you may say something like imouto yasaしくなることです (I want to be nicer to my little sister).

As well as these adjectives and verbs, you will also hear the noun 抱負 houfu (ambition) used. This word is probably the closest in meaning to the English idea of a New Year’s resolution. A common sentence that you will hear using this word is naniか新年の抱負があるの? (Do you have any resolutions for New Year?). It is also used to talk about other people’s resolutions such as kareの抱負は~ (His resolutions are~).

As is traditional at this time of year, learners will want to make some resolutions for the coming year. For most of us, buckling down and studying Japanese will be one of ours. Make sure to check into study.gaijinpot for some advice on studying and the best of luck in this coming year!

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