French word of the week: vouloir

Welcome back to our French word of the week blog. This time we are looking at the verb vouloir. For the correct pronunciation of this word, listen to the audio clip below:

So, what does it mean? The verb infinitive form vouloir translates in English as to want or to wish. This verb has a very irregular conjugation pattern. While there are some tips and tricks for learners to memorise patterns, we’re afraid this one is pretty much a memory game! Have a look at our verb table for vouloir to start learning how it works.

Now let’s look at examples of how we might use this verb:

Nous ne voulons pas cette couleur, est-ce qu’il y en a d’autres ? We don’t want this colour, are there any others?

Je voudrais une nouvelle bague pour mon anniversaire. I would like a new ring for my birthday.

bien vouloir to be willing; to be glad; would really like

(Note that because bien is an adverb, it switches position in the sentence to come after the conjugated form of vouloir in the examples below.)

Ton grand-père veut bien du café, tu peux lui en servir ? Your grandfather would really like a coffee, could you get one for him?

Elles voulaient bien essayer, même si c’était difficile. They were willing to try, even though it was difficult.

Ils ont voulu du mal contre moi. They wanted to harm me.

s’en vouloir to be annoyed at yourself; to be cross with yourself

en vouloir à quelqu’un to be annoyed at someone; to be angry at someone

Tu m’en voulais ?! Were you angry at me?!

Despite its tricky conjugation rules, some good news for learners is that vouloir is part of a small group of verbs which can be followed by another infinitive without a preposition. Let’s see how this works in the examples below:

Est-ce que tu veux aller au théâtre demain ? Do you want to go to the theatre tomorrow?

Nous avons voulu partir mais il était trop tôt. We wanted to leave but it was too early. 

vouloir dire to mean

Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire en espagnol ? What does that mean in Spanish?

Veuillez patienter. Please wait.

A verb that you’ll see and hear very regularly in lots of situations, vouloir is a word that you will really want to learn about. And if you would like to continue your vocabulary journey with us, we’ll see you here next week!

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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