Why is 〇〇はあかいです acceptable but not 〇〇は好きです if they're both adjectives?


I’m currently following Japanese From Zero 1 (as recommended by Tofugu so don’t stone me) and I have come across this phrase:

This raises two questions. Why isn’t it 白い? But most importantly: why is は acceptable?
You see, 好き is an adjective. So is 白い. And here’s an excerpt from the very same book:

To say you like or dislike something with すき and きらい, the subject particle が is used after the thing that is liked or disliked.

WHY? Why is there a double standard for adjectives?

は and が is a separate question from this, I feel. There’s nothing specifically about adjectives that determines it.

Both 〇〇がすきです and 〇〇はすきです are grammatically correct sentences, but in the second sentence the connotations associated with は come into play (〇〇 could be the topic, it could be contrasted with something, etc.)

I don’t think it’s a double standard. It’s just that there are multiple layers of grammar coming into play, but they’re only explaining one thing at a time.


This makes total sense! Ga would emphasize the liking, wa would emphasize that you like cars and not busses or something.

Still, why did he use 白 instead of 白い in that bit?


The は and が particles don’t have anything to do with whether or not adjectives are being used. The が particle simply marks the subject of the sentence (the entity that is doing a verb or being a noun or adjective.)

は is a topic-marking particle that serves a different purpose from が. I don’t feel like I have a solid grasp of the distinction between the two particles just yet, so I don’t want to try and go into detail and accidentally say something wrong.

As for 白 vs. 白い, from what I can tell they’re both ways of saying that something is white. The difference is that 白 is grammatically a noun while 白い is an adjective.


There are two things here. 1) は = topic, vs が = nominative case
2) あかい is an adjective 形容詞; 好き is a nominal adjective 形容動詞 work more like nouns. Also, in this specific case, if you took spanish in school, 好き works just like gustar.
私は猫が好きです。For me-[topic], cats [subject] are pleasant. || me gusta los gatos.

TECHNICALLY 〇〇はすきです CAN be correct, but this is more like the beginning of a paragraph than a random sentence.

Further reading: は and が: What's the Difference, Really?


Could 私が好きです mean I like something or is it necessarily “I am likeable”?

I remember this Cure Dolly lesson in which she explains 私がウナギです would necessarily mean I’m an eel so I thought… maybe that’s how it works.

That’s a completely separate thing in that です can be added as a politeness tag with no grammatical function.

私の車は白いです - です as politeness marker since 白い grammatically ends the sentence
私の車は白です - です as copula since you’re using the noun form of 白い

Also, while the former is technically allowed, it can come off as a bit awkward.

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I think a sentence like that would quite literally mean “I am desirable/likeable” (which may or may not come off as boastful, I’m not sure.)

Something I think you should know early on in studying Japanese: Japanese is a less ego-centric language than English, so it’s quite common to have an inanimate object as the subject of a sentence rather than a living or sentient being. So instead of saying “I like X” I think it would more commonly phrased as “X is desirable” (in the context of talking about yourself.)


yeah me too but deepl is giving me this curveball. Kinda need someone who is sure, this thing is pretty damn accurate

Hm, this sounds like might be related to a Cure Dolly lesson I recently watched concerning expressing subjectivities and how they can be described from either the perspective of the thing inducing the feeling or the thing experiencing the feeling. I haven’t quite wrapped my head fully around it yet.

好き as “likeable” is kind of pushing it. There’s no “-able” in that word. You’d need to supply it from elsewhere.
you could go the direct route and add a verb with “can” built into it.
君は私のことが好きになれるでしょう || you could [be]come to like me

Or change the phrasing out a little. 2 example sentences from ejje.webio.jp
He was a very likeable person. || 彼はとても感じのいい人でした。

the state of being attractive and likeable. || 魅力的で好感がもてるさま

Or you could change out “likeable” for another adjective with an adjacent meaning
彼は好ましい人ですよね || he’s a pleasant person, isn’t he

Japanese will assume that the person who likes something is the speaker, unless suggested otherwise. So in the sentence 花が好きです, since the topic (the thing that the sentence is about) isn’t provided, Japanese people will just have to assume the most probable topic.

I feel like the original question misses the fact that the use of the subject marker is different in each sentence.

私の車は/が青いです - This is an objective, complete statement. “My car is blue”. No extra information is necessary, so both the topic marker and the subject marker work, since 私の車 works as both.

花は好きです - This is different because it is subjective. The information depends on the topic of conversation, since “like flowers / flowers are likeable” will make people think “by who?”. It’s not that using は is wrong since (like with most Japanese) it depends on the context and other factors, but in most cases, it sounds weird because you’re using up the topic marker which normally provides the key information (who is doing the liking) to provide information on what is being liked.

Disclaimer: I haven’t read most of the replies so if I’ve just repeated what someone else has said, that’s why


There have been some other good answers, but I think suki and kirai are special for reasons you might not be aware of.

To me they are special because you can use them with を. Not what you asked, but I can’t think of other adjectives off the top of my head that can use を.

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I think if you want to make a relatively neutral statement you’d say 花が好きです. You’re simply saying that you like flowers and nothing else. If instead you say 花は好きです it sounds like you’re contrasting something, as in there’s an implied “as opposed to other possible options”. At least that’s one possible situation/interpretation. Also, personally I wouldn’t consider は to be the topic particle in this case. I don’t know the “technically correct” grammatical way to view it though.


Pretty happy giving this a solution.
Still would like to know what’s up with 私が好きです tho

Its saying I like it. What about it is confusing?

wouldnt 私 be implied though? if youre trying to say i like myself i feel like it would be 自分

dont always trust me though sometimes i have no clue wht im saying

What? Did I miss a second question?

yeah there was something abt translating it in deepl and getting confused

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I have learned from many sources that this (私が好きです) would necessarily mean “I am likeable”. “I like it” should be along the lines of 私は(〇〇が)好きです.
On that note, 私は好きです means “I like it”, right?