Posted by: janecronin | September 2, 2018


“Querer” is one of the most commonly used verbs in everyday speech, as it is the infinitive of the word “quiero” (I want) which is a staple for going shopping, making appointments and generally getting want you want.  In fact, as well as meaning “to want”, “querer” also means “to love”.  This might sound confusing, but in real life never is. “Quiero un kilo de manzanas” (I want a kilo of apples) is never going to be confused with “te quiero” (I love you).   Many English learners of Spanish find the idea of saying “I want” rather rude (especially if you were told as a child “I want doesn´t get”)  but the Spanish language is much more direct than English so you won´t be told off for saying it here.

There are a number of variations to the formations of “querer”.  In the present tense it is a “root-changing” verb, changing the root “e” to “ie” in four out of the six forms – “quiero, quieres, quiere and quieren”.    It is irregular in the past simple or preterite tense, and goes – “quise, quisiste, quiso, quisimos, quisisteis, quisieron”.   Just to add to our joy, it is also irregular in the future and conditional forms, where the “e” of the ending is suppressed, giving us “querré” (I will want) and “querría” (I would want) along with all the corresponding changes of person.

A form of “querer” that you may have come across in your studies is “quisiera”.  From a grammatical point of view, this is actually an imperfect subjunctive form and as such it is rather difficult to translate in isolation.  It means something like “I would wish”.  In formal situations, this can be a substitute for the straightforward “quiero” I want, but it is a bit over the top for everyday use in Spain.  The South Americans tend to use the language more formally, including the use of “quisiera” to make a request, and a lot of courses teach South American Spanish.

From “querer” we get the word “querido” or “querida” which means “loved one” or “dear”.  It is used when writing letters (remember those?) to friends (Querido Juan – Dear John, Querida Mary – Dear Mary).  However, when writing to someone unknown, Mr. Mrs, Sir or Madam we replace “querido/a” with “estimado/a”.  In some contexts “querido” and “querida” can also be used to mean “lover” although the more common word for this is “amante”.

We can combine the verb “querer” with another verb “decir” (to say) to make an expression which in English translates as “to mean”.  When we are clarifying something and putting it into different words, we often start with “I mean ….”  In Spanish this is “Quiero decir ….”.   When you are trying to interpret what someone has said; perhaps something that has been misunderstood by someone else, you might say “Creo que quiere decir …”  (I think he means…) or “Lo que quiere decir es … (What she means is …)

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