What is the difference between the sentences "I would love/like to play cricket" and " I want to play cricket." Is there any difference in the moods?

  • What does the dictionary tell you? – coleopterist Aug 9 '12 at 14:25
  • The three forms are not totally interchangeable. For instance, 'Smith Minor, you have a choice of activities for this afternoon. Look at the list: which do you prefer?' would not often be answered with the 'love' variant. 'My eyesight is so poor that I am restricted in what I can do.' would not normally be followed by 'I want to play cricket.' 'You're not going out until you've finished your homework.' virtually mandates '[But] I want to play cricket!' – Edwin Ashworth Feb 27 '17 at 22:23

Further to tchrist's answer, they're different, but it's more complicated than it looks.

I want to play cricket: whether the option to play cricket is available or not, to play cricket is what I want to be doing right now. I don't want to be sitting at my boring office job wasting time on ELU; I want to play cricket, dammit.

I would love to play cricket. I read this as one of: 1) My friend has asked me if I want to play cricket right now and I've replied "I would love to play cricket!" This could be followed by me saying either "So let's play!" or "But unfortunately I can't because I'm at my boring office job wasting time on ELU."

OR 2) If it were possible to play cricket right now, I would gladly do so, but alas it is not possible at all.


Yes, the moods are different:

  • 3
    Two grammarians walk into a bar ... :) – coleopterist Aug 9 '12 at 14:36
  • Alas, English doesn't have any verb moods. It has lots of verb constructions, however. – John Lawler Aug 9 '12 at 18:41
  • @JohnLawler You’re right that English has no morphological inflections of the single-word verb that alter the mood of the verb. I don’t think matters so much, though, because it has no shortage of standard multiword constructions that convey the corresponding senses which in other languages are carried by the inflexional morphology alone. French may use -ai for future and -ais for conditional where English might use (say) will vs would as separate words. Does that distinction really matter all that much, and if so, why? And welcome back, John. – tchrist Aug 9 '12 at 18:44
  • Thanks. The term mood has a precise meaning, and it's a formal meaning. I.e, it refers to inflectional forms that have modal meanings of a certain sort (mood, mode, and modal are all the same term). But English has almost no inflections left, so it has no moods, no voices, and only two tenses. If you want to give some construction a particular name, that's fine, except nobody ever gives it the same name, so it's not grammar, just branding. – John Lawler Aug 9 '12 at 19:21
  • 1
    @JohnLawler Is this restricted usage of 'tense' now universal (or at least preponderant) among students of linguistics? In my youth it was otherwise: "Tense is ... a deictic category ... a property of the sentence and the utterance" (Lyons, Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics, 305). If your usage is now standard, what term is now used for the category Lyons describes? – StoneyB Aug 9 '12 at 21:27

The first phrase is expressing an affection for playing cricket. The other phrase is a basic agreement to play or a statement wishing to fulfill a need.

Context surrounding the phrase may affect how the phrase is received:

  • In the right conversation and sarcastic tone, “I love to play cricket” can mean just the opposite.
  • “Love to play cricket” can also imply an unnecessarily exaggerated form of simple confirmation.
  1. would like/want are the same meaning, but would like is more formal: all of these are indicative mood

  2. would love is conditional mood

  • yeah,, I agree with you – user69736 Mar 22 '14 at 8:28
  • 1
    How is I would love conditional when the identical structure I would like is indicative? This answer is wrong, I'm afraid. – Andrew Leach Mar 22 '14 at 11:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.