Can someone explain what's the difference between я хочу and мне хочется?

Can someone explain what's the difference between я хочу and мне хочется? Thanks in advance!

January 13, 2018


"мне хочется" is somewhat more subtle than "я хочу", similar to how "i would like" is less forthright than "i want" (but not exactly so: "я хотел бы" is a better translation of "i would like" and is even more subtle than "мне хочется"). It is most often used to describe dreams and wishes. Compare:

Я хочу уехать на море. (I want to go to the sea.)

Мне хочется уехать на море. (I would like to go to the sea./I have a desire of going to the sea.)

Just like in English, there are many ways to express desire in Russian ("я хочу"/"мне хочется"/"я хотел бы"/"мне хотелось бы"/"было бы хорошо, если" and many, many others) that differ in terms of "frankness", so to speak. And, just like in English, these can be (but shouldn't since each one of them has a distinctive, uhh, stylistic intonation? to it) used interchangeably in most situations, barring formal correspondence such as corporate e-mails and the like.

In this particular case, "я хочу" is best translated as "i want", whereas "мне хочется" can (kind of) be translated as "i have a desire to do smth/for smth"

From the grammar standpoint of view, the thing to keep in mind about "мне хочется" is that this phrase is in passive voice and normally doesn't have a subject. The thing you're wishing for IS NOT the subject of the sentence, as counter-intuitive as it may seem. For example,

Мне хочется сладкого/пива. (I would like to eat some sweets/drink some beer.)


Мне хочется сладкое/пиво.

Hope this helps.

January 13, 2018

Thanks for the thorough explanation! Have 2 lingots from me ;-)

January 13, 2018

'I feel like (doing/having something)' seems like the closest match for 'мне хочется' in English.

January 22, 2018

Not much. The difference in mostly in tone. "Я хочу" sounds more direct, "мне хочется" is more contemplative.

January 13, 2018

“Чего тебе хочется?”means “What do you want?” and nothing else. But “Чего ты хочешь?” sometime can sound like “Stop it! Shut up!”.

January 13, 2018

That's interesting...

January 13, 2018

I am Russian and I don't use "мне хочется" that much. I would say ""мне хочется" is more used when you speak about: - uncertain wish or a wish you can't even express "чего то хочется, но я не знаю чего", "хочется чего-то сладкого" - when you want something, but it's not likely that it gonna happen right now, just a wish or dream "хочется сейчас на пляж" (discussing at business lunch in the office) "хочется чтобы кто нибудь обнял"( sitting alone at home) etc - when you speak about feelings "хочется плакать" "хочется смеяться"

If you use "я хочу" in all cases described above, you'll be understood anyway

January 19, 2018
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