quisiera algo vs. me gustaría algo

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by ElGringo, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. ElGringo Senior Member

    USA English
    I've read many posts here about conditional vs. imperfect subjunctive, but all were either in Spanish way above my level or, even if they were in English, were still over my head.

    My question is very narrow. I have learned that both "quisiera" and "me gustaría" mean I would like. But quisiera is imperfect subjunctive and gustaría is conditional.

    So ... is my understanding correct that both expressions, "quisiera algo" and "me gustaría algo", mean "I would like something"?

    If not what is the difference? If so, under what circumstances are the conditional and imperfect subjunctive equivalent?

    I'm only asking in the context of the two subject expressions. I'm not looking for and probably wouldn't understand a complete discussion of the difference between these two tenses.

    Muchas Gracias, Bob
  2. flljob

    flljob Senior Member

    México español
    No son completamente equivalentes. Te pongo ejemplos:

    Quisiera vivir en Italia - I wish I lived in Ialy
    Me gustaría vivir en Italia - I'd like to live in Italy.

  3. Rayines Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Muchas veces "quisiera" se usa en lugar de "querría", quizás con ese matiz de diferencia que plantea flljob.
    En general, yo por lo menos uso como sinónimos: "Quisiera...." y "Me gustaría...." (este último quizás es un poco más enfático). :)
  4. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    "Quisiera" is a special case. No other verb uses imperfect subjunctive this way. You say it as a polite formula to request something from the person you address to, i.e. asking for food in a restaurant, just like you do with "I would like". The equivalent flat ways are "quiero" and "me gustaría", which lacks politeness.

    Mesera, quisiera una porción adicional de papas.
    Quiséramos que nos ayudaras más con la limpieza.
    Mi novia quisiera hacerle una pregunta.
    ¡Cómo quisiera unas vacaciones!

    You also use it to express a wish, exactly as Flljob told you. In such cases you don't choose "I would like" but "I wish" in English. The equivalent is "desearía".

    No quisiéramos tener que castigarte.
    Quisieras que todos tus amigos estuvieran aquí, ¿cierto?

    Regards ;)
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  5. ElGringo Senior Member

    USA English
    Thank you very much Milton, flljob, and Rayines. I've always thought that I was being pretty polite when I'd say "me gustaria" or "¿te/le gustaria?" But to be polite I should be saying "quisiera algo" or "¿quieiera(s) algo?". ¿Es así?

    Muchas Gracias, Bob

  6. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)
    With "me gustaría" you are being polite too, but not necessarily asking for something. Of course that, in the proper context (i.e. a restaurant), it will be understood as a polite request.
  7. ehbiloute Junior Member

    English - U.S.
    What about in Spain? I'll be visiting with a friend in March, and I would rather not make a gaff when at a restaurant. I only learned "quiero" and "me gustaría" and there was no mention about them being rude.
  8. Milton Sand

    Milton Sand Modómano, 'mano

    Bucaramanga, Colombia
    Español (Colombia)

    It's not really rude. This “quisiera” carries a polite request expressing your hoping that the waiter helps you; while “quiero” is a mere manifestation of your wish regardless the waiter being willing (like the head waiter talking bossily to the waiter); and «me gustaría» is more like an insinuation which might not be an actual request for service.

    It's the same in Spain (as far as I know).


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