Isn't it a mistake to use such construction: I would want to.... instead of I would like to...? Or is it acceptable but there is a difference between those two constructions or maybe it depends on the context?

I am asking about it because I saw this form "I would want to" many times used in English translations of subtitles in Chinese and Korean dramas. And I was wondering if it's not a mistake.

I can't find a proper answer for that on the Internet, so I thought you guys could help me. :-)

  • 1
    What is your exact context? For most purposes you should probably stick to saying what you would like to do. But, consider I will come to your party tonight, but I probably won't stay long. If John isn't there to drive us back, I would want to leave before midnight to catch the last bus. I find want better than like there, because idiomatically speaking I would like [to do X] has become so strongly associated with what the speaker wants at time of utterance. But in my example, it's what I might want [hypothetical future], not what I want now. Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


'I would like to ...' (and especially the contracted form, 'I'd like to', in conversation) is an idiomatic expression expressing a desire, from a daydream to what is almost a demand.

  • 'I'd like to have a cruiser in the Caribbean.' [probably daydreaming]
  • 'I would like to have a brighter garden.' [usually, far from being a pipedream]
  • 'I would like to speak to the manager.' [usually a brusque request]

There are common extensions:

  • 'I'd like to think that my parents would understand if I changed careers.' [I'd hope ...]
  • 'I'd like to see Ben do a triple Salchow!' [Fat chance]


'I would want to' on the other hand is rare except in an obviously stated conditional use:

  • 'If I lived here, I would want to move out as soon as I could.'
  • 'I would want to buy a smaller car if the kids moved out.'
  • Again, cleanly done. Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 16:53

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