would want/would like to

  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd say not, novice_81.

    The second is fine, but the first seems to me to be tautologous, in that it's using "would" in the sense of "want to/be willing to" followed by the verb "want".

    That said, it would help if you could provide complete sentences:).
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I can't imagine saying "if people would want to...". Do you have a full example sentence with the phrase in context that we can look at? Fragments of sentences are usually not sufficient.
     

    novice_81

    Senior Member
    German
    I actually made it up.

    Let's say: If people would want to reduce suffering they would have to try and be kinder to each other.

    I was just curious if the phrase "would want to" is possible instead of "would like to"?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    No, I don't think that's possible, novice_81, for the reason I gave earlier: it's tautologous.

    If people would like to reduce suffering they would have to try and be kinder to each other would be fine (although I suspect the more usual construction would be If people would like to reduce suffering they will have to try and be kinder to each other.)

    If people wanted to reduce suffering they would have to try and be kinder to each other would be equally fine.
     
    Last edited:

    walshesco

    Member
    English
    Gramatically, "to want" is "would want" in the Conditional, so we have correct usage in theory. However semantically, conditional want is something of a paradox, which is why the clause sounds clumbsy at least.

    Also phonetically, there is a dissonance in the juxtaposition of two words beginning with "w" which would be well avoided.
     
    Last edited:

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    "Would" doesn't serve any purpose here; want is sufficient by itself (and the second "would" should be "will").

    You can use "would want" in an unreal condition, an imaginary situation, or a possible situation that you do not expect to happen. For example:
    If you could be a character in a book, who would you want to be?
    I can't think of a single political leader with whom I would want to spend five minutes.


    The second example is a little more subtle. It is of course possible that one has a real existing desire to spend time with a political leader, and it might be possible to have the opportunity to do so. However, with "would want" there is an implied "if I actually had a desire" (I may not have thought about it) or "if I ever had the opportunity" (I don't think that I ever shall have), I would not want to.

    One could also say:
    I can't think of a single political leader with whom I want to spend five minutes.
    but this is not "unreal" because it simply talks about one's actual desires.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top