Need a little help with Japanese nominalization


Okay, so I’ve been having a little bit of trouble understanding when to use nominalization in Japanese. I know how to use it, but I don’t really understand why I should/need to use it.

From what I’ve gathered, you can’t use が好き after a verb/adjective etc. You can only use it after a noun, correct? So, if the object of your が好き isn’t a noun, then you have to nominalize, right?

For example:

私はお菓子を食べるが好きです <- Grammatically wrong.
私はお菓子を食べるのが好きです <- Grammatically sound.


Well then, what about this?

私はお菓子が好きです <- Grammatically sound.
私はお菓子のが好きです <- Grammatically wrong?

The second example shouldn’t need nominalization since the object of the が好き is お菓子, which is already a noun. Does this make the statement 私はお菓子のが好きです completely wrong, or does it just make it sound “weird” (but still grammatically correct)?

Okay, so what about other types of nominalization, because right now I’ve been exclusively writing about が好き, so what if I want to identify something else with が? All I can think of right now is きらい, as in 私はお菓子を食べるのがきらいです. This would be correct, right?

What about some other examples where I would have to use のが instead of が?

Also, there’s のは as well, from what I’ve seen it follows the same “rule” as のが, right?

The funny thing is, now that I have written all of this, the topic became rather clear to me. It seems like this whole のは and のが deal is the same as the gerund in English. For example, you couldn’t say “I like run”, you’d have to nominalize it with the gerund, run -> running, so it would become “I like running”.

I guess I have answered my own question, but I’d still like to get a second opinion on this.


Well, の after a noun takes the meaning of “of”.
So that sentence would mean, “I like the one of the candy”.
So it’s technically correct, but the meaning is definitely not the one you were going for.


I don’t actually know if you can do that, but if you can it would be a possessive の. An example that makes more sense is something like あなたのが好きです (I like yours).

I want to say that sounds okay, but I don’t know for sure off the top of my head. Been a while since I nailed down some of these beginner concepts again.

Your sentence is like “I like the candy’s (something)” but it’s clearly not the same meaning you were referring to with the other example.


By the way, there’s another way to nominalize a sentence: you can end it with こと, which then takes more or less the meaing of “the fact of …”

For instance: お菓子を食べることができない。

Here’s a link explaining the difference between the two.


I don’t have an IME right now, so sorry for the Romaji. I think you got it already, but things started to click for me when I saw an explanation like the one below and started to really understand the structure, so maybe it will help someone who reads this.

Words like suki and kirai, which in English are the verbs “to like” and “to dislike”, are adjectives. So, the thing that is liked and disliked is not the object of the sentence, but rather the subject. To understand the grammatical structure, it’s helpful to translate these words are adjectives, such as “likeable” and “dislikeable”.

I (subject) like (verb) chocolate (object).
Watashi ha (topic) chokoreeto ga (subject) suki (adjective) desu.
As for me, chocolate is likeable.

Osake ga suki desu ka?
Is sake likeable? > Do you like sake?

When the thing liked is an action rather than a noun, you have to nominalize it (that is, to turn it into a noun) so it can be the subject of such a sentence. So, taberu (to eat) becomes taberu no ga (the action of eating), which is a noun.

Watashi ha taberu no ga suki desu.
As for me, the action of eating is likeable. > I like to eat.

Hayaku okiru no ga suki desu ka?
Is the action of waking up early likeable? > Do you like waking up early?

Biiru wo nomu no ga kirai.
The action of drinking is dislikeable. > I don’t like drinking beer.

Benkyou suru no ga kirai desu.
The action of studying is dislikeable. > I don’t like studying.

You can also use this with any adjective, really, to describe an action.

Kanji wo anki suru no ga muzukashii desu.
The action of memorising kanji is difficult.

Tabako wo suu no ga abunai desu.
The action of smoking tobacco is dangerous.

Yes, the gerund in English works in a similar way.
“Drinking is bad for you.”
“Is eating vegetables is good for your health?”
"Do you like waking up early?"
In all these cases, the gerund causes the verb to be treated as a noun.