Hoikuen ni iku no o iyagatte-iru-n desu. He refuses to go to nursery school.

Situation 1: Mrs. Shiba is frustrated with baby Jun.

妻: 最近、じゅんが保育園に行くのをいやがっているの。

夫: なんでだろう。いじわるな子がいるのかなあ。

Tsuma: Saikin, Jun ga hoikuen ni iku no o iyagatte-iru no.

Otto: Nande darō. Ijiwaruna ko ga iru no kanā.

Wife: Recently, Jun has been refusing to go to nursery school.

Husband: I wonder why. Maybe there’s a bully there.

Let’s look at the meanings and usages of the compound verb “Xがる,” which is used to indicate that a person other than the speaker is showing signs of something or desires something. In this structure, “X” is often the stem of an i-adjective like 痛(いた)い (painful), 寂(さび)しい (lonely) or 寒(さむ)い (cold), which become 痛がる, 寂しがる and 寒がる respectively:

息子(むすこ)が寒がるといけないからヒーターをつけておこう。 (I’ll turn on the heater so my son doesn’t feel so cold.)

愛子(あいこ)がタブレットPCを欲(ほ)しがっている。 (Aiko wants a tablet computer.)

In Situation 1, the wife’s いやがる (to dislike) is an example where “X” is a na-adjective, the word いやな. However, only a few na-adjectives are usually used in the Xがる pattern: 退屈 (たいくつ)な (boring), 窮屈(きゅうくつ)な (feeling narrow or tight), 面倒 (めんどう)な (troublesome), 不思議(ふしぎ)な (wondrous) and 残念 (ざんねん)な (regrettable) are among them:

Since “Xがる” indicates that the desire or feelings of someone can be seen, inferred or imagined from outside, it can be rendered in English as “show signs of.” The pattern can carry a connotation of reproach so it is usually used to describe children, animals and anyone in the speaker’s inner circle, as opposed to customers and superiors, which would be considered impolite.

Situation 2: An education specialist is giving a lecture.

講師: 親は、無理に子どもに勉強させたがるものですが、将来のことを考えると、それはいい方法ではありません。子どもの能力は、自由な遊びをすることで、自然に高まっていくものです。

Kōshi: Oya wa, muri ni kodomo ni benkyō sasetagaru mono desu ga, shōrai no koto o kangaeru to, sore wa ii hōhō dewa arimasen. Kodomo no nōryoku wa, jiyūna asobi o suru koto de, shizen ni takamatte-iku mono desu.

Lecturer: Parents tend to force their children to study but, when considering their futures, that’s not a good method. A child’s abilities will naturally increase when they play freely.

When using a verb in the place of “X,” take the stem of the masu-form of the verb and add on “たがる.” For example, 行(い)く (to go) becomes 行きたがる (he/she/they want to go): 子(こ)どもが眠(ねむ)たがっている。 (The children want to go to sleep.)

In Situation 2 this pattern is formed using させる, the causative form of the verb する (to do), and becomes させたがる (he/she/they want to make someone do).

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Gray is speaking to Mr. Mita at work when their boss, Mr. Okubo, interrupts them.

グレイ: 調査課(ちょうさか)って、ずっと暇(ひま)だと思(おも)っていたの。でも、新(あたら)しい課長(かちょう)が来(き)てから残業(ざんぎょう)が多(おお)いみたい。今(いま)も、まだだれも帰(かえ)る様子(ようす)がなかった。

三田(みた): 大宮(おおみや)課長は、終業(しゅうぎょう)時間(じかん)少(すこ)し前(まえ)になると、その日(ひ)のまとめのスピーチをするらしいよ。みんな早(はや)く帰りたがっているのに、スピーチが長(なが)くて、なかなか帰れないんだって。

グレイ: スピーチをするのはいいけれど、終業時間は守(まも)ってほしいよね。

三田: うちの課長はスピーチ好(ず)きじゃなくてよかったけど、終業時間近(ちか)くになると、いつも新しい仕事(しごと)を持(も)って来(く)る… 。

大久保(おおくぼ): [入ってくる] 三田くん、ちょっとこの書類(しょるい)、見(み)てくれないか。

三田: [ひとりごと] こういうことをするからみんなが煙(けむ)たがるんだ。

大久保: え?なんか言(い)った?

三田: いえ、課長、何(なん)でもありません。すぐに始(はじ)めます。

Gray: I thought our research section had free time. But it seems like there’s been a lot of overtime since the new section chief arrived. Even now it didn’t yet look like anyone was going home.

Mita: I heard Mr. Omiya gives a speech summarizing that day’s events just before quitting time. Even though everyone wants to go home early, his speeches are long and they can’t quite leave.

Gray: It’s OK to give a speech but I wish he’d abide by the working hours.

Mita: It’s good that our chief doesn’t like doing speeches, but when it gets to the end of the day he always brings me new work to do.

Okubo: [Enters] Mr. Mita, would you take a look at this document for me?

Mita: [To himself] This is why the staff seems uneasy with him, because he does stuff like this.

Okubo: Huh? Did you say something?

Mita: No, boss, it’s nothing. I’ll start on these right away.