Conjugating Querer in Spanish: It’s NOT the same as “to want”

Conjugating Querer in Spanish: It’s NOT the same as “to want”

¿Qué quieres? Ahh, estoy segura que quieres aprender como utilizar el verbo querer. (What do you want? Ohh, I’m sure you want to learn how to use the verb “to want”.)

The Spanish verb querer is tricky. It means “to want”, but is not always used exactly the same way as its English equivalent… AND it’s an irregular verb, with a special conjugation!

So, what better way to learn its conjugation and when to use it than… you guessed it: with chunks! Maura, Spring Spanish teacher, is here for you! Let’s start with querer chunk número uno.

1. Chunks with querer you cannot live without

  • Te quiero (I love you): Querer (To want) can work as an alternative to “amar” (to love) in Spanish. Cory made a whole video about this that you can check out here if you’re feeling curious, romantic or both. Use it towards people or pets, it doesn’t really work with things. So you can say:
  • En mi familia nos queremos mucho. (In my family, we love each other very much.)
  • Mis amigos me quieren un montón y yo a ellos. (My friends love me a lot and I love them.)
  • Si quieres (If you want): works as an answer just like it would in English. Use this anytime you feel neutral about something.

ACTOR 1
¿Pedimos comida?
(Shall we order food?)

ACTOR 2
Si quieres.
(If you want)

  • Cuando quieras (Whenever you want): works very similarly, but specifies that we’re talking about when to do something. Sometimes it also works as an invitation to do something. For example, waiters might say this when they’re waiting for you to pay for your meal, so you know you can do it now. Dónde (Where) and quién (who) can also work with this quieras.

ACTOR 1
¿Dónde comemos?
(Where should we eat?)

ACTOR 2
Donde quieras.
(Wherever you want.)

ACTOR 1
Y, ¿a quién invito?
(And, who do I invite?)

ACTOR 2
A quien quieras.
(Whoever you want.)

  • Ya quisiera (I wish): this is basically the “I wish” of English. It shows doubt. At the same time, it clarifies that yes I would like it to be true, but the reality is either the opposite or the thing is very unlikely.

ACTOR 1
¿Y si invitamos a Angelina Jolie?
(What if we invite Angelina Jolie?)

ACTOR 2
¡Ja! Ya quisiera.
(Ha! I wish.)

  • Quiera o no quiera / quiera o no (Whether I want to or not): this one you can use to say something has to happen regardless of how you feel about it. The second option is just shorter without the quiera at the end. So you can say things like:
  • Estoy full de trabajo, así que tengo que quedarme en casa y terminar, quiera o no quiera. (I’m full of work, so I have to stay home and finish, whether I want to or not.)
  • ¿Qué más quieres? (What else do you want?): So, this one is more of a rhetorical question not intended to be answered. It is all about “what else could you wish for?”, so it’s something you say when things are very good or fully going your way.

ACTOR 1
¡Angelina Jolie viene a la fiesta!
(Angelina Jolie is coming to the party!)

ACTOR 2
¿Es en serio? O sea, ¿qué más quieres?
(Are you serious? I mean, what more do you want?)

I’m going to save the best one for the end, so stick with me till then if you want an extra chunk, popularized by the beloved Hispanic character El Chavo del Ocho. I swear, there’s probably no Latin-American who wouldn’t recognize it!

2. Conjugating Querer in the present tense

So you feel confident in using this verb today, let’s go over a little role play to show you how to conjugate this verb in the present tense.

ACTOR 1
¿Quieres salir?|
Do you want to go out?)

ACTOR 2
No, realmente no quiero salir hoy, pero pregúntale a los demás.
(No, I really don’t want to go out today, but ask the others.)

ACTOR 1
Ya me dijeron que no quieren salir hoy tampoco porque tienen una fiesta mañana.
(They already told me they don’t want to go out today either because they have a party tomorrow.)

ACTOR 1
¿Incluso Julio? Él siempre quiere salir sin importar qué.
(Even Julio? He always wants to go out no matter what.)

ACTOR 2
Sí, es que ya tiene planes.
(Yes, he already has plans.)

ACTOR 2
Ah, pues ve sola.
(Oh, then go alone.)

ACTOR 1
Tampoco así. O queremos salir las dos o no salimos, pero hagamos algo divertido en casa entonces.
(Not like that, either. Either we both want to go out or we don’t, but let’s do something fun at home then.)

3. When to use Querer

Here we’re going to talk about the many different uses this verb has in Spanish. I say “many” because if you compare it to English, you’ll find that it can mean as many verbs as: to love, to appreciate, to like, to want, to wish.

The most common way for us to use it would be as “to want” or “to wish” which would be almost interchangeable in Spanish. So, to say things like:

  • Quisiera que dejara de hacer tanto calor. (I wish it would stop being so hot.)
  • El gato no quiere salir al techo porque está muy caliente. (The cat doesn’t want to go out on the roof because it’s too hot.)

Honestly, guys, we are burning up in Madrid. Like, I have no words. Just be ready to get many heat related chunks during these summer months because it is overtaking our lives for real.

As you saw in our first chunk of this lesson, you can use it to say “I love you”. Also, it can actually be closer to “appreciate” than to “love”, depending on the context, but it always means you “like” that person or animal:

  • Yo quiero mucho a mis profesores del colegio. (I love my school teachers very much.)

Clearly, this is more about appreciation than love. But if you tell someone:

  • Te quiero tanto. (I love you so much.)

It could be closer to the actual “I love you”.

Chunk Alert!

Now, here’s that chunk I promised. I’m wondering if you have any idea of which one it is. Nuestro amado (Our beloved) Roberto Gómez Bolaños, better known as Chespirito, created this wonderful character called El Chavo del Ocho. This character’s signature phrase was: Sin querer queriendo. (Without wanting to, but wanting to.) Which basically means that you did something unintentionally. Using this is a sign of embracing the Latin culture as only a native could.

Si no has visto El Chavo del Ocho, anímate, seguro que lo encuentras en algún sitio y seguro que no te arrepientes. (If you haven’t seen El Chavo del Ocho, go ahead, I’m sure you can find it somewhere, and you definitely won’t regret it.)

Remember to check the link in the description and access our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit. It’s filled with chunks meant to open you up not only to the language, but to the culture behind it!

Now, of all these uses, the only time you can find an exact equivalent between Spanish and English is when you’re using “querer” as “to want” or “to wish”. So the translation for:

  • Queremos comer, would certainly be “We want to eat”.

Now, a big difference between these uses, is that though you can also talk about people or pets with “to want” in English, it doesn’t mean what it would in Spanish.

  • La quiero mucho. (I love her so much.)  

If you translate this as “I love her so much”, it would have a soft and appreciative tone, whereas the literal translation, “I want her so much”, would quickly take a more aggressive and definitely sexual turn.

RECAP

Here’s that table we always show you just to recap, so remember we do not even advise on struggling to learn this by memory. In that case, learn the chunks instead, which will be much easier for you to remember.

Pronoun 1Conjugation (Want)Chunk
Yo (I)QuieroNo quiero salir hoy. (I don’t want to go out today.)
Tú (You)Quieres¿Quieres salir? Do you want to go out?
Ella, Él, Eso (She, He, It)QuiereÉl siempre quiere salir. (He always wants to go out.)
Nosotras/ Nosotros (We)QueremosO queremos salir las dos o no salimos. (Either we both want to go out or we don’t go out at all.)
Ustedes-Ellas/ Ellos (You-They)QuierenYa me dijeron que no quieren salir hoy. (They already told me that they do not want to go out today.)

You learned that it’s “yo quiero” when you want something, but it’s a bit rude. There are actually way better ways to say that you want something, in Spanish.

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