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  5. "¿Quisieras comer?"

"¿Quisieras comer?"

Translation:Would you like to eat?

July 12, 2017



Doesn't quisieras come from querer? Shouldn't this translate to Would you want to eat?


That's one way to translate it, but the verb querer can mean want, love, and like. Duo is trying to teach us that the English phrase "would like" can be expressed using the imperfect subjunctive. This is a very common way to say this in Spanish.

The word we often think of for "like" is "gustar." That works too, but has a slightly different connotation. You'd use gustar if you were talking about something that would make you happy to do. For example, "I'd like to go to Spain." While you can still use either verb here, gustar carries the idea that it would please you to go. Now, when buying tickets to go there you'd use querer, as in "I would like to buy a ticket to Spain."


Thank you for your help. I was thrown by it being imperfect subjunctive and thought it had to be in past tense. What would ‘ Quieras comer?’ mean? I seem to have lost the ability to do upside down ? since iPad updated! Any help greatly appreciated.


Great question, partly because grammar (whether for Spanish or English) is not my strong suit. But also because I find use of the subjunctive in Spanish to be interesting (and confusing) in its own right.

Lack of knowledge has never stopped me from expressing an opinion, however.

My understanding is the present subjunctive generally appears in a dependent clause. So, "¿Quieras comer?" might not mean anything. That is, you could translate the words into the simple present tense, but the subjunctive mood wouldn't apply.


Thank you for replying. Yep I am also finding the subjunctive fascinating but confusing. Am afraid I never heard of it before trying to learn Spanish!


Good points. I recalled a lesson form Spanishpodcast.org where the lady from Barcelona emphatically states that quisiera should NOT be used in questions. It's use in super polite requests to substitute for the conditional "querría" is accepted, but according to her, it should never be used as such in questions, as Duo has done in this lesson. It would be interesting to hear if other Spanish speaking natives agree.


Check out the very helpful comments from Blas_de_Lezo00 elsewhere in this discussion thread.


"solo quisiera decir, me gusta mucho spanishpodcast de Barcelona". Does this translate to "I only would like to say that I like spanish podcast from barcelona a lot"


Because you are using the imperfect subjunctive of querer, I would say "I was only wanting to say..." But there will probably be a lot of people that disagree with me.


As Blas_de_Lezo00 points out, In Spain you'll hardly ever hear (if at all) an offer starting with "¿Quisieras...?.


It's regional. I've seen messages that "quisiera" in Spain sounds as if you were speaking to the Queen. In other words, it sounds overly formal.

In other areas, it's fine.


Kind of like I would want to buy tickets instead of I would enjoy buying tickets...


I have the exact same question


"Quisiera (Past subjunctive - very polite and formal.) No really literal translation exists that you would use in English. The most "literal" translation would probably be "If it were possible, I would have wanted". But it more accurately translates as "If you could, I would like" or "if you could be so kind, I would like"


Thank you, I was confused why they didn't use a conditional conjugation for this


Would you want to eat is conditional and is ¿Querrías comer? This is the imperfect subjunctive and is better translated as "Were you wanting to eat?" as the literal translation. However, the implication, as Duolingo points out, is "Would you like to eat?"


Indeed. DL has questionable translations for this topic, not even to mention the topic of Subjunctive. Almost every sentence there have more then 50-200 comments. Basically people do not agree with DL.

Who are people behind DL? Why are translations so INCONSISTENT? Yes, it is free tool, but is it really hard to hire linguists to VERIFY translations?

I am not a native english speaker and just decided to care less about "100% CORRECT" english translations of these topics.


DL is perfectly correct here. I'm not sure exactly what you're disagreeing with. Is Duo rejecting "Would you want to eat?"?

The reason there are so many comments throughout these exercises is because native English speakers are (re)learning about moods and tenses we take for granted or don't understand. When you add to that the fact that Spanish permits different ways of saying things that exactly match a given English phrase, it amounts to a great deal of confusion and/or disagreement.

I am a native English speaker and I only rarely find Duo has got a translation truly wrong. The vast majority of complaints are by people who (a) don't actually understand what is being said and, therefore, believe it's wrong, (b) can't imagine themselves saying a particular phrase/sentence and, therefore, believe it's wrong, or (c) don't happen to say the phrase/sentence the same way themselves and, therefore, believe it's wrong.

Sure, every now and then, something does come up wrong. It did not happen this time.


Yes, Duo rejects Would you want to eat?


I think you could argue that querría can mean "would you want" in some circumstances even though it's usually translated as "would you like" when making a request.

However, I can see why Duolingo would reject "would you want" as a translation of quisiera. Quisiera is usually "would like" or can mean "wish" also.

I borrowed the information below as it has a good explanation: http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/117317/not-sure-of-the-meaning-of-quisiera

"Quisiera" is the past subjunctive, used in very polite commands or requests. It essentially is the same as "Quiera", but instead of saying "I want" you are saying something much softer and more polite.

In order of "politeness":

  • Quiero (informal request - I want..." you would use with someone you address as "tú)

  • Quiera (polite request "I want.." but more polite and deferential. Use with someone you address as "usted". Awkward, not really very commonly used. More likely posed as a question - "¿Quira darme el azúcar? Do you want to pass me the sugar?)

  • Querría (conditional tense - even more polite. Literally "I would want", but more accurately translated as "I would like")

  • Quisiera (Past subjunctive - The most polite. No really literal translation exists that you would use in English. The most "literal" translation would probably be "If it were possible, I would have wanted". But it more accurately translates as "If you could, I would like" or "if you could be so kind, I would like")

Quería (imperfect - "I wanted". Not sure where this fits in. Probably after "Quiera" and before "Querría".


Thank you. Excellent explanation.


I think you can insist that "Would you want to eat?" is a valid translation of the Spanish, since querer also has the meaning of want and there's no technical reason you cannot substitute want for like in this particular construction. If you feel strongly, you could flag it as correct and see if Duo ever changes its mind.

Personally, it sounds a little odd to me, but that's because I'm thinking of situations where I'm used to saying and hearing "would you like." If you have a context for "would you want to eat" or tend to use that phrase where others might ask "would you like to eat", there's nothing in the Spanish to indicate that's incorrect.


Yes, Duo rejects Would you want to eat?


Yes it rejects "Would you want to eat?"


Literally, yes....but that is an impractical translation. The english answer here is the closest english translation.


This skill lessons throws me in the wild open sea of Spanish conjugation. Unprepared it catches me flat-footed with this Subjunctive Imperfect. Its breaker, huge breaking wave catapults me on the shore of an desolate island called unknown tenses, where I found myself abandoned on its beach, exhausted, naked and lost, only able to whisper with a faint voice: Help me!


Thank you for that (have a lingot)! It's so much more creative than the usual "WTF!!!!!" rant.

I only knew this one because I wanted to know how to say "I would like ..." long before I ever met Duo. So, the phrase was familiar, but the thing called subjunctive (let alone imperfect subjunctive) was only a vague memory from language classes I took 40+ years ago.

SpanishDict is a great web site for learning how to conjugate all the tenses, moods and aspects. There's also linguasorb if you want practice drills to complement Duo. Think of them as the rescue ship that will carry your lost soul from the island.


I love the way you rant. Have another lingot! :)


I'm not sure why they have modal before subjunctive and past subjunctive.


Why is "do you want to eat" incorrect?


That's a little different. "Do you want to eat?" is "¿Quiere(s) comer?"

Here, Duo is using the imperfect subjunctive to capture the idea that this is a potential wish/desire. It might be something the host of a restaurant would ask someone standing in their doorway. It can be interpreted to mean, "Were you wanting to eat?", but in English we usually just ask, "Would you like to eat?".


Do you want to eat? -- is now correct


That surprises me. Duo is usually more strict about verb conjugation and use. Still, "do you want to eat?" is colloquially the same thing as "would you like to eat?". I still think it's a mistake to accept this as a good translation, since it discards the subtle difference between quieres and quisieras. I personally believe the latter is a more polite way of making a request and is worth learning.


I agree. I actually answered "Do you want to eat" and was marked correct, but then I was confused as to why the question wasn't just "Quieres comer." Certainly didn't learn the distinction until I came here to read the comments.


well it shouldn't be


Why is the subjunctive form used and not a conditional?


I have the same question. I think conditional tense in Spanish can also express polite request. Can we use "quieras comer" or "querrías comer" ?


that is subjunctive!


I thought "querrías" would be conditional


If this is an offer, "¿quieres comer?" sounds way more natural


No, it's more of a straight question than an offer. Obviously, the individual asking the question could be offering, but the question/answer is not predicated on that.

Don't think about this as a "natural" part of a real question as much as an opportunity to understand and interpret the given verb tense.


How I hate when Duo is introducing new structures just like that! No explanation, no rules at all...


There are several types of language courses. There are grammar courses such as you find in college and online. Another type course is called Comprehensible Input. At least for now, that is basically what Duolingo is. Another one is Mondly. With comprehensible Input, you encounter sentences multiple times. From the repetition, you learn words and patterns. It is alright if you make mistakes because that is part of the learning process Eventually the words and patterns become habitual. This is the way you learned your native language. I have taken Spanish in college and was using Mondly before coming to Duolingo. Sometimes, on Duolingo, when I am supposed to write a Spanish sentence and I am uncertain what to say, I will start to analyze it with grammar then decide to just to go with what feels right. Almost always, it is correct. It is not because of grammar, it is because what is correct is ingrained in my mind from repeated use. Sometimes encountering something new can be frustrating. But I have learned that if I keep at it, eventually I will be rewarded. Buena suerte.


I totally agree with you! Repetitio mater studiorum est :)

However, Duo did provide the grammar background... to some point. And now, when really complex structures are introduced, we are left alone, and it just feels odd. I guess I'll have to consult some other sources, cause I like to know the grammar.


I can understand the use of subjunctive because its regarding a desire... but why imperfect? I was under the impression imperfect referred to non distinct or habitual past actions, and this seems to be asking about the present. Can anyone speak to this?


Why not querías comer?


Really confused why the subjunctive is mixed in with this lesson. Maybe I haven't caught the theme of this lesson since "modal" isn't extremely descriptive. Started to think it was just about the indicative preterite.


I think Duolingo is trying to teach English modal verbs as described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_modal_verbs#Usage_of_specific_verbs. In this exercise, the relevant English verb is "would".


I wrote, "You would like to eat?" Still an acceptable way of framing the question in English, but marked wrong.


Do you wish to eat? - marked wrong by DL


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"Would you like to eat?" makes sense. I answered "Did you want to eat?" and got it wrong, but I was told that the correct answer is "Do you want to eat?" Wouldn't that be "Quieres comer?"


I believe Duo is allowing similar phrases to accommodate different ways English expresses the Spanish. I've read that quisieras sounds a little more polite than quieres. However, I don't think most native English speakers would differentiate between "do you want" and "would you like" the same way that Spanish speakers would distinguish between quieres and quisieras. This seems to be one of those nuances that often gets lost in translation.


Why isn't "Would you want to eat?" accepted?

  • 1297

Why use the imperfect subjunctive here? There is no past in the action.


I look at it this way. I could say I want a hamburger. Or I could say I was thinking of getting a hamburger. The latter is in the past but there really is no past action. In this case, I would say I was wanting to eat. Yes, that is not common in English, but the sentence we are talking about is in Spanish. I asked a guy (educated as a lawyer) in Guatemala about this sentence and he saw nothing wrong with it. It may be a regional thing.


shouldn't this be "Did you want to eat" since it is in the past imperfect subjunctive


Want to eat not lik, that wouod be gustarias


¿Te gustaría comer? might be possible. I would like to see an alternate for the English "would you like". Would you care to (eat/go out/go shopping/go for a ride etc) is very common in Canada and the UK, I believe.


How about "do you wish to eat?" I thought quisiera translates to "wish" as well.

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