I don't understand why 嫌い is defined as "to dislike"

The Noun / Na Adjective 嫌い (きらい) is given the primary meaning of “to dislike” in WaniKani, and I can’t for the life of me understand why. There’s really nothing verb-ish about it that I can see. Not only that, but the “Meaning Explanation” does everything possible to confuse the issue (apparently on purpose):

You dislike something. This is one of those weird words in Japanese where it’s an adjective in Japanese but in English it’s a verb but in Japanese it’s treated like a verb and omegad I just confused you didn’t I? Anyways, you’ll learn to dislike this word because even though it looks like an adjective we’re going to treat it like it’s a verb by making it “to dislike” with a “to” and everything.

WaniKani is usually reasonably good at keeping parts of speech categorized more or less correctly, even going to far as using a “to” to distinguish verbs. But this one breaks their own rules for no benefit that I can see. I’m especially befuddled by this part of the explanation: “in Japanese it’s treated like a verb”. When? How?

あの人は嫌いだ。
嫌いな野菜はどれですか。

How is 嫌い used more like a verb than きれい is (besides that “hate” and “dislike” happen to be verbs as well as nouns in English)?

Anyway, the obvious opposite of 嫌い would be 好き and that has “to like” as an alternative meaning (not accurate, but better than making it the primary meaning, in my opinion.) And its Meaning Explanation includes “This is a weird word, though. It’s kind of half an adjective, half a noun.” What?

嫌です!

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While I agree that the thing you quoted from them makes no sense, I don’t necessarily have an issue with the English meanings not matching the part of speech of the Japanese words.

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I believe 嫌い is a derivitave of the word 嫌う and 好き a derivative of 好く. They might just be the masu stems of the verb that could have changed to more properly convey that they are descriptions. At least, that was my impression.

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This is also true, but they are categorized as nouns and な adjectives. It would be fine if they said 嫌う is a verb and 嫌い comes from that, but saying 嫌い is “treated like a verb” doesn’t mean much to me.

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Yeah, I agree. I think it is for beginners not to get to overwhelmed in having them treat the words like they are verbs in some scenarios. Like for the sentence あの人は嫌いだ. In English, we would never say this person is a dislike. We would say I dislike this person.

It’s still wrong to call it a verb though. It’s an adjective that’s just taking a different form than what we see in English.

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I made a post complaining about something similar awhile back. I can understand why WK (and many other sources such as Tae Kim) anglicize words this way, but I personally think it’s a very bad practice in the field of Japanese pedagogy. Sure, it makes this particular instance of a word easier to understand, but it makes a total hash of the grammar for new learners.

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Japanese grammar doesn’t perfectly correlate to English.

The important thing to know is that 好き and 嫌い are na adjective and nouns. Therefore, you use them as such.

お茶が好き.
If you want to force it to sounding like an adjective in English you could think about it as “tea is likable,” but that sounds dumb and not really what is meant. It just means “I like tea.”

So, the best, natural translation to English would be “to like” and “to dislike”
It’s just a translation.

Also similar explanations: https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/42493/is-suki-an-adjective-and-a-verb

and: https://books.google.com/books?id=ZZvTAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT355&lpg=PT355&dq=japanese+すき+like+verb&source=bl&ots=HpgjARSQv-&sig=obirU1fy8a7XMdiQ5o8FFkXM5MI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjF9d237qjbAhUl_4MKHRiXAiI4FBDoAQgwMAE#v=onepage&q=japanese%20すき%20like%20verb&f=false

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I think sezme knows all that, but the WK explanation is still needlessly complicated, if not downright nonsensical.

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just to throw my 50p in: aren’t na adjectives (形容動詞) kinda considered verbs? Like a grey area across nouns, verbs and adjectives?

Also, as others have already mentioned, there are some bits and bobs that don’t translate 100% into english. In this case 嫌い has the meaning of “possessing the characteristic of disliking something”, aka “to dislike”, even if it behaves as a adjective.

TL;DR
It’s how japanese goes :slight_smile:

What makes you say that? And when you use “verbs” in that sentence are you using it to mean 動詞 or a concept of verbs in English?

Saying “aren’t 形容動詞 kinda considered 動詞” doesn’t make much sense to me, without further explanation.

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The second part of speech that acts like adjectives is called Keiyōdōshi 形容動詞. This name literally means “adjectival verb.” The name comes from the fact that all adjectives in this class must use the copula to conjugate. Confusingly, however, they’re essentially adjectival nouns.

Are you thinking of something like this explanation? This was from imabi

Personally, they are what they are, I don’t think too hard about equating them to anything else. As long as I know how to use it.

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I like the discussion. To clarify my point a little, I was specifically complaining that the part of speech 形容動詞 that includes 嫌い is not reflected in the primary meaning. It’s unfair to language learners to say that this is a noun / na-adjective but define it as a verb just because we use a verb to express the same feeling in English, especially since those same words are also nouns in English.

As to 形容動詞 being sorta verbs, I don’t see it, but if we did define them that way, then it would apply to all such words of which there are many.

My concern is that saying 嫌い means “to dislike” and is treated like a verb in Japanese will lead Japanese learners to confusion, thinking this is a special case na-adjective and that you could say something like 私はあの人に嫌い.

ETA: Since I said in my first post that I didn’t understand why it was defined that way, Leebo’s post does clarify it (i.e. that the English definition’s part of speech doesn’t have to match the Japanese part of speech). So at least I understand the reasoning a little better even though it still bothers me (and it should be consistent with 好き).

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The first textbook I ever used translated 好き as “to like” right on chapter 1, with no further explanation, and it gave me a world of trouble. That’s why I like the likeable/dislikeable explanation that @audball mentioned. As soon as I read that it clicked and everything became clear.

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I see what you mean about them being inconsistent.

The part of speech for all of them seems to be な adjectives, that seems fine to leave at that.

But then maybe wanikani could move the “to dislike” to be an alternate meaning instead and modify the meaning section for both 好き and 嫌い to something like:

"好き is a な adjective meaning something that is likable, but it is commonly translated as “to like” in English. (or something) ?

And leave out anything claiming its like a verb.

If you email the confusion and inconsistencies to wanikani I think they’d look into adjusting it.

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You’re right. I’ll send them a message. And I like your proposed wording.

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My wife yells, “Exanimus 嫌い!!!”, all the time. Totally verby… (And painful :cry: )

I’ve seen this same confusion a lot on multiple sites (and in real life learning). The hurdle here is, a sentence like お茶が好きです is super useful and likely to come up for a beginner. But properly understanding how it works needs the whole wa/ga discussion that typically comes later. The teacher is pretty much forced into a situation where it’s “I’m going to tell you a useful white lie for now, but come back to it later.”

That said, I don’t think it’s helpful to call it “like” a verb.

Exactly this. That was my experience using Tae Kim. As a new learner trying to understand the intricacies of は and が and other things, translating 私は魚が好きです as “I like fish,” was hugely confusing and ultimately led to me ditching Tae Kim. I really could not understand how that sentence fit together and probably spent three or four days trying to figure it out before moving on to other resources. It wasn’t until some time later that it occurred to me that 好き is not in fact a verb (lacks that -う ending).

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I think everyone sees how it’s like a verb in English, but how is it “treated like a verb in Japanese”? How is that different from the way that 形容詞 work, for instance.

何々怖い!

…is not particularly different in form, but isn’t like a verb in Japanese or English (except in the ways that any 形容詞 is like a verb already, which is arguably more so than 形容動詞).

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not really. In japanese grammar, na adjectives are nouns that attribute their meaning to another noun using な instead of (or in addition to) の.

(it is also interesting to note that when new adjective uses are coined in japanese they are na-adjectives since the i-adjectives are a closed class)

and everything (except particles) in japanese can predicate a sentence with the correct ending:
dictionary form for “verbs” and “i-adjectives”
word + だ for “nouns” and “na-adjectives”

some version of the above is how Japanese sources usually describe the grammar (the below has a grammar section):

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