Vouloir – to want

Vouloir - to want
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Wanting a French verb

The French verb vouloir usually means "to want" and has irregular conjugations in just about every tense and mood.

Vouloir = to want

Je veux être médecin.   I want to be a doctor.
Il veut plus d’argent.   He wants more money.

Vouloir = request

You can use vouloir to soften a request in three different ways:

Ask a question

Voulez-vous vous patienter, s’il vous plaît ?   Will you wait, please?
Est-ce que tu veux passer le riz ?   Will you pass the rice?

Use the conditional

Je voudrais un sandwich.   I’d like a sandwich.
Nous voudrions deux cafés, s’il vous plaît.   We’d like two coffees, please.

Be extra polite with the imperative

Veuillez patienter un instant.   Please be so kind as to wait a moment.
Veuillez vous asseoir.   Please do sit down.

Vouloir bien

Statement = to be willing / happy to

Je veux bien t’accompagner.   I’m willing to go with you.
Nous voulons bien vous prêter de l’argent.   We’d be happy to lend you some money.

Request = to be so kind as to

Répondez au téléphone, si vous voulez bien.   Answer the phone, if you’d be so kind.
Si vous voulez bien me suivre.   Follow me, please.

Vouloir dire = to mean

– Que veut-dire « bon appétit » ?   – What does "bon appétit" mean?
– Ça veut dire que j’espère que ton repas te plaira.   – It means that I hope you’ll enjoy your meal.

En vouloir à quelqu’un = to hold a grudge against, be upset with

J’espère que tu ne m’en veux pas.   I hope you’re not upset with me.
Pourquoi est-ce qu’elle vous en veut ?   Why is she holding a grudge against you?

Vouloir + another verb

Semi-auxiliary verb: vouloir plus the infinitive (no preposition in between).

Je veux partir.   I want to leave.
Nous voulons y aller.   We want to go there.

Main clause verb: vouloir que must be followed by the subjunctive.

Je veux que tu partes.   I want you to leave.
Nous voulons qu’ils y aillent.   We want them to go there.

 Vouloir in the passé composé

In the imperfect, vouloir means "to want" or "to hope" but it has different meanings in the passé composé.

Affirmative: to decide / try to

J’ai voulu finir le projet.   I decided to finish the project.
Avez-vous voulu partir tôt ?   Did you try to leave early?

Negative: to refuse

Je n’ai pas voulu finir le projet.   I refused to finish the project.
Il n’a pas voulu lire.   He refused to read.

Vouloir in action

 Related lessons

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Vouloir - to want

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