Vouloir (To Want in French) Meaning, Usage, Example Sentences

The verb vouloir means to want and is one of the most important and basic verbs for a beginning French student to learn.

example uses

  • Est-ce que tu veux du gâteau? Would you like some cake?
  • Oui, je veux bien. Yes, gladly.
  • Qui veut de la glace? Who wants ice cream?
  • Que voulez-vous faire? What do you want to do?

je veux vs. je voudrais

Je veux and je voudrais are both ways of using the verb vouloir to ask for something. Je veux means I want and je voudrais literally means I would want. This is the conditional (would) form of the verb.

Using je voudrais is seen as much more polite and less demanding while using je veux is less polite.

  • Je veux le fromage! I want the cheese! -> demanding, strong language
  • Je voudrais le fromage, s’il vous plait. I’d like the cheese please. -> polite

additional usages

When making a request to somebody else, “I want to you”, vouloir requires the subjunctive.

  • Je veux que tu fasses ton travail. I want you to do your work.

The verb vouloir can also be followed by an infinitive.

  • Je veux partir demain. I want to leave tomorrow.

Voulez-vous

Voulez-vous is the inversion of ‘est-ce que vous voulez’ in a question.

  • Voulez-vous du fromage? Would you like some cheese?

En vouloir

En vouloir à quelqu’un means to be angry at somebody.

  • J’en veux à ton frère. I’m angry at your brother.

Bien vouloir

Bien vouloir quelque chose means to really want something.

  • Je n’ai pas mangé le chocolat depuis deux jours. Je veux bien manger du chocolat. I haven’t eaten chocolate in two days. I really want to eat some chocolate.

vouloir dire = to mean

  • Qu’est-ce que tu veux dire, il ne vient pas? What you mean he’s not coming?
  • Tu sais ce que ça veut dire. You know what that means.

Veuillez = polite way of saying please

Veuillez is vouloir in the vous form of the imperative. It precedes the infinitive and is seen in formal written language and on signs. It can be translated to please.

  • Veuillez signer ici. Please sign here.
  • Veuillez patienter, s’il vous plait. Please be patient.
  • Veuillez attendre ici. Please wait here.
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