Vouloir way “to want’ in French. That way it can convey a need or desire – however it’s likewise used to convey the total opposite: one ultra-polite request.

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Want come learn much more about this two-sided verb? I desire nothing much more than to help you.

How to conjugate vouloir

Vouloir is an irregular verb. That conjugated through avoir in compound tenses.

Here’s how to conjugate the most usual tenses the vouloir:

PresentPassé Composé Imparfait
je veuxj’ai vouluje voulais
tu veuxtu as voulutu voulais
il/elle/on veutil/elle/on a vouluil/elle/on voulait
nous voulonsnous avons voulunous voulions
vous voulezvous avez vouluvous vouliez
ils/elles veulentils/elles ont vouluils/elles voulaient
je voudraije voudraisque je veuille
tu voudrastu voudraisque tu veuilles
il/elle/on voudrail/elle/on voudraitqu’ il/elle/on veuille
nous voudronsnous voudrionsque nous voulions
vous voudrezvous voudriezque vous vouliez
ils/elles voudrontils/elles voudraientqu’ils/elles veuillent

A note about the imperative kind of vouloir

When it comes to addressing other world (tu, vous), that not very common to use vouloir in the timeless imperative form, based on the present indicative. Most grammar guides take into consideration the subjunctive kind the truer command of vouloir, due to the fact that you’re basically ordering who to feeling or law a particular way, i beg your pardon you’re less sure to attain than, say, ordering lock to do an action. As we’ll find out in this article, you’ll commonly see (polite) requests/demands in the subjunctive form of vouloir.

Veux/Veuille (tu)
Voulons (nous)
Voulez/Veuillez (vous)

What does vouloir mean ?

Vouloir means ‘to want’. But that goes both ways. You deserve to use it to talk around wanting something, but it’s also used to express the hope that someone else wants something or desires to perform something.

Let’s look at these different ways to use vouloir a little an ext closely.

The “want” vouloir

Vous vouliez des billets to water le spectacle ?

To speak someone wants something in French, you deserve to use tenses like the present, past, and future. However keep conditional and also subjunctive tenses next – these are supplied to display politeness, also ultra-politeness. We’ll gain to castle a tiny further on.

To talk about wanting something, use:

subject + vouloir conjugated in the suitable tense + object

Here room some examples:

Je veux ce tableau. (I want this painting)

Elle veut une Nintendo Switch to water Noël. (She wants a Nintendo Switch for Christmas.)

Vous vouliez des billets to water le spectacle ? (You wanted tickets come the play?)

Note that vouloir isn’t used with feeling sexual desire because that someone (“I want you”, etc.). The said, vouloir have the right to be supplied to to express wanting to execute love- and also sex -related actions, making use of the following formula….

To talk about wanting to do something, use:

subject + vouloir conjugated in the appropriate tense + infinitive verb

For instance:

Je veux danser. (I desire to dance).

Il voulait voir un movie mais nous sommes arrivés trop tard au cinéma. (He wanted to view a movie but we obtained to the cinema too late.)

You may have to include an object to the formula. In the case, put the reflective pronoun in between vouloir and the prototype verb, choose so:

Elle veut dare donner un bisou. (She desires to offer you a kiss.)

Tu voulais me donner quelque chose ? (You wanted to offer me something?)

Using vouloir with phrases

What if you desire to express something more facility than a verb infinitive will allow?

In this case, you’ll need to use

vouloir + que

If you’ve been researching French because that a while, that phrase may have set off an alarm in her head. Vouloir que is a phrase that means “Subjunctive tense ahead!”

In other words, the verb in the phrase that complies with vouloir que will be conjugated in the subjunctive tense.

For instance:

Je veux que tu me dises la vérité. (I want you come tell me the truth.)

Mes parents voulaient que nous nous mariions dès que possible. (My parental wanted united state to marry as soon as possible.)

The “would like” vouloir


Although you have the right to use vouloir in just about any tense, politeness is a big thing in French culture. So, if you’re telling someone what you want, you’ll regularly use the conditional in order not to sound demanding. 

You may have currently practiced this in your French classes.

For example, if you ordering in ~ a restaurant in France, you shouldn’t say Je veux un steak tartare (I want the steak tartare). Instead, you’d placed vouloir in the conditional: Je voudrais le steak tartare(I would favor the steak tartare). And adding s’il vous plait is constantly a pretty touch.

Here are a few other examples:

Bonjour, je voudrais parler avec Monsieur Dupont, s’il vous plait. (Hello, I’d favor to speak through Monsieur Dupont, please.)

Elles m’ont dit qu’elles voudraient un gâteau décoré avec des roses. (They told me that they would choose a cake decorated with roses.)

The ultra-polite vouloir


So far, we’ve viewed that vouloir can be used in most tenses to express wanting something. Once it’s in the conditional, the expresses “would like” together opposed to “want”, and also should be supplied in most instances when you’re questioning for something, due to the fact that French civilization tend to be very polite.

But as soon as vouloir is offered in the subjunctive, it alters its identification a bit. Rather of being about what someone wants or would like, it i do not care an ultra-polite request the one hopes the human being or civilization they’re addressing will certainly agree to.

For that reason, you’ll most often see vouloir conjugated through vous in the good-bye tense. And you’ll most frequently encounter it in formal and professional French emails and letters or instructions post in publicly places.

Here are some very common phrases v Veuillez:

Veuillez trouver ci-joint… (Please find attached …)

Veuillez m’excuser. (I humbly beg your pardon.)

The longer ultra-polite vouloir

Extreme politeness can additionally be expressed v the phrase de bien vouloir. You’ll often see it came before by words like Merci or Je vous prie.

Here room some common examples:

Merci de bien vouloir fermer la porte. (Kindly nearby the door.)

Je vous prie de bien accuser réception de ma lettre. (Please be so kind regarding confirm agree of my letter.)

Be mindful with bien vouloir!

Note that bien vouloir there is no the de  has a various meaning. It’s supplied to present a general strong desire for something. In the past, it regularly expresses regret.

You can discover some instances of bien vouloir in the perform of vouloir expressions additional on in this article.

Vouloir as a noun

Le vouloir means ‘a desire or want’.

But vouloir’s noun form is used an extremely rarely and I’ve only consisted of it because, well, this short article is about vouloir.

When ns asked my French husband because that a real-life example of it, he might only think the the phrase selon votre bon vouloir, which way “as needed/as desired” and can be provided with things prefer recipes. Yet even then, over there are much more common alternatives.

So the noun le vouloir does exist, and also you can come throughout it at part point, however it’s no a terribly usual word in modern French.

On the other hand, that is cousin, la volonté (will), is really common.

What go se vouloir mean ?

Now that we’ve looked at vouloir and also some of the tenses and phrases commonly connected with it, let’s tackle the verb’s reflex form: se vouloir.

Se vouloir means “wanting to seem/appear”. Here are some examples:

Elle se veut la plus belle fille de l’école. (She wants to be considered the most beautiful girl in the school.)

Ils se veulent professionals en la matière. (They desire seem like professionals in this subject.)

Common phrases and expressions through vouloir

Vouloir, c’est pouvoir.

Here room some vouloir phrases and also expressions that you’ll frequently come throughout in modern-day French.

Bien vouloir – come really want something/to really want to do something

Note that when this is used with past tenses, it frequently expresses regret. Be mindful not to confuse this expression v the ultra-polite phrase bien vouloir de, which was previously debated in this article.

Examples : Je voudrais bien y aller ! (I’d really favor to go!)

Nous aurions bien voulu regarder le complement hier soir, mais la télé était en panne. (We really want to clock the game last night, but the TV to be broken.)

Tu voudrais une boule de glace ? – Oui, je voudrais bien ! (Would you like a scoop of ice cream? Yes, I’d love some!)

en vouloir à – come be angry or uncomfortable at someone. Examples:

Sarah en veut à sa cousine. (Sarah is foolish at she cousin.)

Tu m’en veux ? (Are friend mad at me ?) 

s’en vouloir à – to be upset at oneself. Example: Je m’en veux d’avoir oublié ton cadeau. (I’m therefore mad in ~ myself for forgetting your gift.)

sans le vouloir – without an interpretation to/unintentionally. Example: Il a insulté Jacques sans le vouloir. (He insulted Jacques without definition to./He unintentionally insulted Jacques.)

vouloir dire – come mean. Examples :

Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire ? (What go this/that mean?)

« Reum » veut dire « mère » en verlan. (“Reum” method “mother” in verlan (French backwards slang)).

vouloir sa part du gâteau – to desire one’s piece of the pie (to desire one’s share)

vouloir refaire le monde – to want to make the world a far better place

Vouloir, c’est pouvoir– If you want it, you have the right to do it/Where yes sir a will, there’s a way.

Want more? have actually a look in ~ this word Reference page for extr expressions v vouloir, and also some ethereal variations that a couple of of the expression on ours list.

If you to be hoping come learn about vouloir, i hope this post gave friend what girlfriend wanted. And also if you’re emotion a little bit overwhelmed around this verb’s different levels of meaning, i promise the the an ext French she exposed to, the less complicated and an ext intuitive it will certainly become.

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If you desire to understand the verb vouloir, you will: ~ all, vouloir, c’est pouvoir!


Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has actually lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has actually taught English and French for much more than ten years, most notably together an assistante de langue vivante for L"Education Nationale.She newly published her first novel, Hearts in ~ Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege that Paris. You have the right to read about her adventures here, or feel totally free to prevent by her website.