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wollen vs möchten

What's the difference? I have a friend. He uses 'Wir können das machen if du willst'. The focus is on the 'if du willst' since what's the difference between möchtest and willst? Can I say 'Wir können das machen if du möchtest'. Or is this where the difference is? Is 'möchten' more meaning want you want rather than doing a 'cause and effect' use. What I mean is in the sentence I said 'Wir können das machen if du willst' it is saying if you want then we can do that. However you can use möchten if you just want something. 'Ich möchte einen Hund'. So is it kinda like 'wenn and wann'?. Thanks

Liebe Grüße


sorry if it was a bit confusing.

December 11, 2017



It's similar to "I want to" vs. "I would like to": "wollen" is more "forceful" than "mögen", which is more polite. Apart from that, there's no special meaning / context / rule which to use when.

(It's "wollen", not "willen"; and "mögen", not "möchten"; and "if" is English for "wenn" :) )

(Edit: Okay, Kit845299, you beat me again ;-) )


It can be möchten. Mögen and möchten are both possible forms.

Mögen is to like. Ich mag Kaffee. I like coffee.

Möchten is "would like". Ich möchte einen Kaffee. I would like a coffee.


To be exact, "möchten" is not a verb in its own right (it's not an infinitive), it's - as sweilan1 said - a subjunctive form of "mögen": "wir/sie/Sie möchten" ("we/they/you would like").

Cf. that colloquially, it's possible to use "mögen" when you "would like" something, but I wouldn't recommend using it:

Mama, ich mag einen Apfel / ein Eis! = Mum, I would like an apple / an ice cream!

vs.: Ich mag Äpfel / Eis. = I like apples / ice cream.


"möchten" und "wollen" (that's in infinite form of "du willst") are actually mostly interchangeable. The difference is, that "möchten" is considered to be more polite than "wollen". Therefore "möchten" is what you would use in a more formal setting. "Wollen" has a more determined ring to it.


Hi Cluney,

You have already many good answers.

In everyday live it is mostly interchangeable. 'Willst Du mit ins Kino?' vs. 'Möchtest Du mit ins Kino?' doesn't make a change (möchtest is a little bit more polite that's all)

If you really want something you use 'Ich will' if you just make a simple choice you use 'ich möchte'

Ich möchte ein das neue I-phone. (a wish) Ich will (unbedingt) das neue I-phone (you really! want it)

Lena (5y old) Mama, können wir einen Hund kaufen? Nein, aber Du kannst ein Meerschweinchen haben. (Lena, seriously upset) Ich WILL aber einen Hund, kein Meerschweinchen!

Der Ton macht die Musik/It's not what you say, but how you say it.

Möchtest Du ein Stück Torte? Ja, ich will ein Stück. (can be taken as unpolite/greedy) Willst Du mich heiraten (as an example!) Ja, ich möchte Dich heiraten. (not very convincing :-( )

Just be careful with 'ich will...' it can sound unpolite. Exept you are sure and you really insist on something. (Game: Sollen wir wirklich den Boss versuchen zu legen? Ja, ich will den down haben) I know that's not good German but I hope you know what I mean.

Best regards Angel


Thankyou. That's very helpful.


Very well explained! Those examples are priceless! :D


Möchten is subjunctive for mögen.

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