Expressing interest in Japanese

By | March 19, 2015

In Japanese, you can use the word 興味 (‘kyoumi’) to talk about interest in something. It is typically coupled with the が or は, plus the verb for inanimate existence, ある (‘aru’), or some derivation of it (negative form, polite form, etc.). Let’s start with a simple example:

  • それは全然興味がありません。
  • I am not interested in that at all.

Often the particle に (or more formal “に対して”) is used before the object of interest, as in:

  • スポーツに興味がある。
  • I’m interested in sports.

Instead of using ある, the verb 持つ (“motsu”, to hold) can be used after 興味. The particle for indicating direct object を (‘wo’) is usually placed before 興味.

  • スポーツに興味を持ってる。
  • I’m interested in sports. (literally: “(I) am holding an interest in sports”).

You can use the past tense of 持つ, which is 持った (“motta”) in order to describe gaining an interest in something.

  • 日本に興味を持ったのは、高校の時だった。
  • I become interested in Japan in high school (literally: “The time that I gained an interest in Japanese was in high school.”)

Alternatively, you can use some form of 持ち始める (“mochihajimeru”, to begin to hold).

Another expression with a similar meaning is 興味が湧く, where 湧く(“waku”) means “to gush out”. (“waku” can also mean “to boil”, but that is written “沸く”.)

  • アキラを見たら日本語に興味が湧いてきた。
  • When I watched Akira I gained an interest in Japanese.

The phrase 興味津々 (“kyoumi shinshin”) is used to express great interest in something.

  • ゲーム会社に勤めるなんて興味津々だよ。
  • I’m really interested in working at a (computer) game company.

If you wanted to express absolutely no interest in something, the phrase ”どうでもいい” (“dou demo ii”) would be appropriate.

  • 家事なんてどうでもいい。
  • I have no interest in chores.

Finally, the word 関心 (“kanshin”) can be used interchangeably with 興味.

  • これは関心ある。
  • I’m interested in this.

“kanshin” also can be used to mean “admire” or “impress”, though that usage is written as “感心”。


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