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How Do You Say 'To Want'?

'Querer' Is Most Common Translation

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Quisiera dos gaseosas por favor. (I would like two carbonated drinks, please.)

Photo by Carlos de Paz; licensed via Creative Commons.

While the English verb "to want" is usually used in getting your needs met, it also has other uses. One of the suggested verbs here should work for "to want" in nearly every situation.

The most common Spanish verb meaning "to want" is querer, which can be used in a wide variety of situations. Even though it can be used in a variety of mundane situations, the verb also can mean "to love" (te quiero is a common way of saying "I love you").

Usually synonymous with querer is desear, which isn't nearly as common as querer. It is frequently taught to beginning Spanish students, however, because it is a regular verb while querer is not. Like querer, desear can have romantic or sexual overtones in some contexts (it comes from the same origin as the English verb "desire"), so you should exercise caution when using it to refer to people.

  • Examples: Quisiera dos gaseosas por favor. I would like two carbonated drinks, please. Quiero una casa grande. I want a large house. ¿Deseas ayudar? Do you want to help?

Where "to want" means "to ask" or "to request," the verb pedir is frequently used.

  • Example: ¿Cuánto pide ella por su coche? How much does she want for her car?

If a person is wanted, such as to perform a task, you can use the verb buscar, which also is translated as "to seek" or "to look for."

  • Example: Te buscan en la oficina. You're wanted at the office. (Literally, they're looking for you at the office.)

Although not as common in modern English as it used to be, "to want" is sometimes used to mean "to need." In such cases, a verb such as necesitar or faltar can be used.

  • Examples: ¿Necesitas dinero? Are you wanting for money? El Señor es mi pastor, nada me faltará. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Occasionally, other words can be used as well. The important thing is to convey the idea that you wish to get across — in effect, to think in Spanish — not merely to use a synonym for the English word.

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