French Language

Discuss and learn French: French vocabulary, French grammar, French culture etc.

French Vocab Games app for iPhone/iPad French-English dictionary French grammar French vocab/phrases

For the latest updates, follow @FrenchUpdates on Twitter!

Hi!

This is my first post, and it might be a bit beginner-ish, but anyways:

what is the difference between "je voudrais" and "je veux"?

As far as I have understood, both can be used to order at a restaurant/café?

Merci d'avance!

//Gustaf, Sweden

Views: 33176

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

"je voudrais" means I would like.

"je veux" means I want.

Thus, both would be easily understood, but Je voudrais is obviously more polite.

Also, to add to what Stu has written, when I am lucky enough to find myself in restaurants in Paris, I have often heard "Je prendrais... " ("I would take...") when people are ordering.  I can only gather that this is more colloquial.  But, of course, as a straight translation of your two words, Stu has it.

D'accord, thank you both. 

But the phrase "je voudrais" is very rarely heard outside the café, if I am not mistaken? Can one say, for instance:

"Je voudrais apprendre francais"?

I have never heard or read "prendrais", so yes, it probably is more colloquial.

Oh, yes, there are lots of alternatives:

J'aimerais avoir...

Je vais prendre...

Je suis décidé sur...

Here are a couple that encourage a little further dialogue, and perhaps a recommendation:

Je suis tenté par.... attiré par...

Je m'intéresse au...



Also, to add to what Stu has written, when I am lucky enough to find myself in restaurants in Paris, I have often heard "Je prendrais... " ("I would take...") when people are ordering.  I can only gather that this is more colloquial.  But, of course, as a straight translation of your two words, Stu has it.

Strictly speaking, the form they are using is the future, spelt "je prendrai"-- though it sounds identical to the conditional.

I am slightly dubious about this statement.  My (French) grandmother, who was a stickler for "correct" French, always insisted that the conditional ending was pronounced with an "open" e sound (like "mère") and the future ending like an e acute.  This gets lost in normal speech, and may be old-fashioned, but I know people who still make some attempt to differentiate.

This is just an invention for the purposes of the school "dictée" exercise and is not how French speakers naturally pronounce the two forms. You could make up all sorts of nonsense for the purpose of an exercise-- e.g. I could randomly decide to pronounce "fromage" as "frumige" and declare that this was the "correct" pronunciation if I wanted to. But just because I've arbitrarily invented that pronunciation doesn't suddenly mean that all speakers of the language will suddenly follow my made-up pronunciation, or that they suddenly have some requirement to do so.

That's essentially what you have with the invention of the supposed difference in pronunciation between e.g. "prendrai" and "prendrais". If you say that making the difference is "correct", you're saying that speakers have some kind of obligation to speak the language as though they were carrying out a school dictation exercise. Well... why the hell should they? Who is the God of Pronunciation that intrinsically has the right to impose that obligation?

How do you know that diners are saying "je prendrai" and not "je prendrais" ?

The latter was my  initial assuption although I can see how "je prendrai" works perfectly. 

Either just by logic or because of how the verb behaves in other persons where the pronunciation does differ (e.g. tu prendrais vs tu prendras).

My grandmother, a native Frenchwoman who got a degree from the University of Lille in 1908, was admittedly something of a linguistic snob.  However, I am not talking about "made-up" pronunciation.  She always insisted that there was (or should be) a difference.  I doubt whether she, as a Frenchwoman, would have made this up for the purpose of school dictation exercises.  It may well reflect what was the norm when she was young.

I quite agree that, as I said, there is no difference in normal speech today.

This is obviously a bit of a hobby-horse (passe-temps-cheval?) for Neil, and that's great. I just want to add that we humans are capable of making and detecting extremely subtle distinctions in speech. I believe it's very possible that people may be making some very very slight difference between -ai and -ais without even realising it, and that some people may be capable of telling the difference.

Hypothetically, this skill would have evolved as part of recognising who belongs to "our tribe."

RSS

Follow BitterCoffey on Twitter

© 2022   Created by Neil Coffey.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service