Vouloir, ‘to want’, is very common verb, and another irregular one. Read on to find out its use in the present, perfect, future and present subjunctive tenses.

Present tense
Je veux – I wish, I want
Tu veux – You wish, you want (sing.fam.)
Il veut – He wishes, he wants
Elle veut – She wishes, she wants
Nous voulons – We wish, we want
Vous voulez – You wish, you want (pl.pol.)
Ils veulent – They wish, they want (m.)
Elles veulent – They wish, they want (f.)

Perfect tense (passé composé)
J’ai voulu les attendre. – I wanted to wait for them.
Tu as toujours voulu voyager au Japon. – You’ve always want to travel to Japan.
Il n’a jamais voulu m’accompagner. – He has never wanted to accompany me.
Elle a voulu quitter. – She wanted to leave.
Nous avons voulu l’aider. – We wanted to help him.
Vous avez voulu me de la vérité. – You wanted to tell me the truth.
Ils ont voulu acheter la voiture verte. – They wanted to buy the green car.
Elles ont voulu danser. – They wanted to dance.

Sometimes ‘wanted’ would require the use of the imperfect tense. The perfect tense refers to one specific occasion, whereas the imperfect signifies that someone wanted something over a period of time.

Future tense
Je partirai quand je voudrai. – I will leave when I want to. (French sometimes uses the future tense when English uses the present tense.)
Tu voudras sortir des que je serai. – Will you want to go out as soon as I’m ready?
Elle voudra vous parler lorsque vous arriverez. – She will want to talk to you when you arrive.
Nous voudrons visiter le Musée d’Orsay. – We will want to visit the Musée d’Orsay.
Vous voudrez aller dîner au restaurant après avoir passé la journée à la plage? – Will you want to go and have dinner at the restaurant after having spent the day at the beach?
Ils voudront lui offrir un cadeau. – They will want to give him a present.

Conditional tense
Je voudrais – I would like is the most common way of asking for something, and is more polite than ‘je veux‘.

Present subjunctive
Il est heureux que je veuille l’inviter. – He is happy that I want to invite him.
Il suffit que tu veuilles attendre. – It is enough that you want to wait.
J’espère qu’il veuille venir. – I hope he wants to come.
Ils sont triste que nous voulions partir. – They are sad that we want to leave.
C’est dommage que vous ne vouliez pas revenir. – It’s a pity that you don’t want to come back.
Nous sommes contents qu’ils veuillent se marier. – We are happy that they want to get married.

With thanks to Elizabeth Allen

Read more on irregular verbs and on learning French

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