Expressing wishes and desires is one of the most important things to work on when learning a foreign language, because being able to say what you want is extremely important when trying to make your way in a foreign country. In this post, we look at two Portuguese verbs, querer and gostar, that enable you to do so. Once you’ve finished reading this post, it’s advisable to book a personalized lesson with one of our Portuguese tutors to help you work on using this vocabulary.
Querer, “to want,” is the most common Portuguese verb used for expressing wishes and desires, and the one you should work on first. It’s an irregular verb, so you can’t just use the normal Portuguese rules of verb conjugation—you have to look at the verb table. For example, the third-person present tense form is quer, rather than quere. The simple past, pluperfect, and all three subjunctive tenses are also completely irregular. Below, we go through the most useful forms of querer.
If you’re not familiar with Portuguese personal pronouns, the ones below translate as follows: eu – I, tu – you (informal), nós – we, ele – he/it, ela – she/it, você – you (singular), eles/elas – they, and vocês – you (plural).
Infinitive; “to want”
Past participle; “wanted”
Note: querido(a) is more often used as a term of endearment, meaning something like “beloved,” than it is as the past participle of querer.
Indicative mood: simple present; “want”
Indicative mood: simple past; “wanted”
Indicative mood: past imperfect; “wanted, used to want”
Indicative mood: pluperfect; “had wanted”
Indicative mood: simple future; “will want”
Indicative mood: conditional/future of the past; “would want”
Subjunctive mood: present; “that (pronoun) want/wants”
Que eu queira
Que tu queiras
Que nós queiramos
Que ele/ela/você queira
Que eles/elas/vocês queiram
Subjunctive mood: imperfect; “if (pronoun) wanted”
Se eu quisesse
Se tu quisesses
Se nós quiséssemos
Se ele/ela/você quisesse
Se eles/elas/vocês quisessem
Subjunctive mood: future; “when (pronoun) want/wants”
Quando eu quiser
Quando tu quiseres
Quando nós quisermos
Quando ele/ela/você quiser
Quando eles/elas/vocês quiserem
Now that you’ve seen the various Portuguese verb forms for querer, we look at ten examples of how to use them in practice, using the various pronouns and tenses.
I want to go to the party.
Eu quero ir para a festa.
She always wanted a pet dog.
Ela sempre quis um cachorro de estimação.
They wanted to leave the party.
Eles queriam sair da festa.
It was something I had previously wanted to do, but had not been able to.
Foi algo que eu quisera fazer antes, mas não consegui.
When the time comes, they will want to prevent it.
Quando chegar a hora, eles quererão impedi-lo.
I don’t think we would want that to happen.
Eu não acho que nós quereríamos que isso aconteça.
Note: this is the simple form, rather than the more common compound form. In conversation, you would be more likely to say: eu não acho que nós iríamos querer que isso aconteça.
In case you want to share it, bring a friend.
Caso você queira compartilhá-lo, traga um amigo.
If I wanted it, I would have said so. Se eu quisesse, eu teria dito.
We can do it when we want to.
Nós podemos fazer isso quando quisermos.
Lots of people have contacted me, wanting to help.
Muitas pessoas me contataram, querendo ajudar.
Using the Verb “Gostar”
Much like in English, sometimes in Portuguese it is considered more polite to say “I would like” rather than “I want.” However, the use of the Portuguese verb querer is not generally considered to be rude, like “want” sometimes is in English, so you should be able to get by just using querer to start off with. Once you’ve mastered querer, if you are in polite company and wish to sound elegant, you can also consider using the conditional forms of gostar (“to like”), which are listed below.
Eu gostaria de
Tu gostarias de
Nós gostaríamos de
Ele/ela/você gostaria de
Eles/elas/vocês gostariam de
Note that in Portuguese you don’t just “like” something, you like “of” it, so the conditional forms of gostar are always followed by de, as shown in the example below.
I would like a glass of water, please.
Eu gostaria de um copo de água, por favor.
Practice Is the Key
Reading about Portuguese verbs is all very well, but they work significantly differently from their English counterparts, so you won’t be able to pick up the grammar right away. The best way to learn them is to practice with an expert tutor. No matter what your schedule, we’ll be able to find a lesson plan that works for you.