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"Él quería comer."

Translation:He wanted to eat.

5 years ago

43 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/sa_mills

For those wondering about the use of the imperfect indicative here, it is used to describe a mental, emotional or physical condition in the past. This is common with verbs such as creer, desear, pensar, poder, preferir, querer, saber, and sentir. It translates into English as the simple past as in this case.

What is gets tricky is that in the preterite, these verbs take on a different meaning. Querer in the preterite translates as 'tried', so 'El quiso comer' is 'He tried to eat.' Moreover, in the negative, it means refused, so 'El no quiso comer' is 'He refused to eat.'

Did someone say Spanish was easy? ;)

(This information comes from the book '501 Spanish verbs'.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casiquire

That contradicts what others have said--another commenter said "quiso" means wanted to, and did, and "quería" means wanted to, but didn't. Can we get a native opinion on this?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BenZeller
BenZeller
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Sure! "Quiso," as I'm sure you've figured out in the past year, is preterite. "Quería" is imperfect. While they mean the same in English, they do not mean the same in Spanish

If you want to learn the entirety of preterite versus imperfect, go ahead. Just know it takes a long, boring half-semester to cover in class. http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/pretimp1.htm http://www.spanishdict.com/topics/show/64

Usually, in a very very very very brief covering of preterite vs. imperfect, preterite is used to show that the action in the past is done. However imperfect is used to show a habitual action in the past or something that has a more vague end. Por ejemplo:

Yo fui al doctor hoy. This is preterite (fui) because it is obvious that I went to the doctor's office and now I'm not still at the doctor's.

Mi familia y yo íbamos a la playa cada verano. This is imperfect (íbamos) because it shows a habitual action We went to the beach every year, and who knows? Maybe we'll go again this year. If you want a shortcut, imagine that the imperfect is like saying "used to" in English. "We used to go to the beach"

And here come the exceptions to the exceptions. On those sites, you'll see that "querer," along with other verbs (poder, saber, conocer), change their meaning depending on preterite and imperfect. WWHHHAAATTT?!?!

I won't go into the details of all of them, but as for querer, here's what you need to know. (NOTE: If you use these verbs in the imperfect, their meanings don't change. They only change in the preterite, so when in doubt, use imperfect. It's a lot easier!)

Querer in the preterite means "I tried to." For example,

"Quise ir a la fiesta, pero mis padres no me dejaron." (I tried to go to the party, but my parents didn't let me)

Exception to the exception of the exceptions of the exception: If you add "no" to "querer" in the preterite, it makes a whole NEW meaning! "No querer" in the preterite translates to "to refuse."

"No quise comer las verduras. ¡Las odio!" means "I refused to eat the vegetables. I hate them!"

http://www.drlemon.com/Grammar/pret-meaning.html

Like sa_mills said, who said Spanish was easy?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/John201090
John201090
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It was very helpful

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NordicMand
NordicMand
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Hey now, I'd say Spanish is pretty damn easy compared to Polish ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wmq
wmq
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My native language is Polish and I think it's easier for me to learn Spanish than to those who only speak English. Eg. those conjugations that are almost non-existent in English :)

10 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LuisDaniel647795

If you're gonna say "Él quiso comer", you would actually say "He wanted to eat". Querer in the preterite translates as 'wanted'.

2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KenHigh

This whole business of quise meaning "I tried" and no quise meaning "I refused" is really overblown and potentially misleading. All you need to know it that quise means the wanting ceased at that point, therefore the preterite, because there is a definitive end. You can say: I wanted to eat, so I had two hamburgers, fries and a milkshake. By using quise, the preterite of querer - to want - in this sentense makes perfect sense without having to resort to "tried to eat" in the English translation.

The Spanish speaker is just saying that his wanting to eat came to an end! If, on the other hand, the person is doing something, gets hungry, wants to eat, but there is no food in sight, and he then talks about what he did next, he would use the imperfect. He still wants to eat, because at this point in the story he hasn't eaten yet, so the wanting continues indefinitely.

Note that in the above situation where the Spanish speaker used the preterite before eating, he could have use the imperfect ... it wouldn't be wrong grammar. This is because he was DESCRIBING the situation ... always OK to use imperfect.

Almost anytime someone insists that changing a tense of a Spanish verb NECESSITATES the use of a different word in the English translation, it is not necessarily true. We are all taught, for example that the preterite of conocer is "to meet." Sometimes this works, but other times it doesn't and I better translation might by "got to know" or "became familiar with"

4 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mnovack

Whoever said learning Spanish was easy, too many conjugations

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JollyWolf

True, but even natives don't speak the language with perfection. I see plenty of people who can barely speak English and get by just fine.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/athacliath
athacliath
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I agree. DL, as I consider it, is not supposed to teach us Spanish in a way that we can write books or be professors. Its purpose is that we learn enough Spanish for everday communication. So, I believe that if we learn present, past and future and as many words as possible, we will be able to comunicate. I wouldn't bother with so many conjugations and variations.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wmq
wmq
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True, it helps to speak already another language that has more conjugation than English.

10 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johnelsworth

my answer (rejected!!) was "he was wanting to eat". As far as I'm aware "queria" is imperfect tense i.e. "he was wanting", past continuous

If this is wrong, can someone tell me:

  1. The translation into Spanish "He was wanting to eat" 2 The translation into English "Él quiso comer"
4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eagersnap
eagersnap
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And on the second part, I think "Èl quiso comer" (Preterit) would also translate to "He wanted to eat", but probably the meaning would be slightly different, as it would be referring to a specific occasion, whereas "Él quería comer" (Imperfect) would be referring to something that happened on some regular basis.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seanhurson

As koofaya says correctly, "want" is a verb that shouldn't be used in continuous forms. It's a stative verb, just in the same way you don't say "I'm knowing the answer". Like and love fall into this category too, but McDonald's have messed with the latter a bit, and you do also hear people saying things like "I'm liking the new hair!" However, as far as I know it's still considered nonstandard.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eagersnap
eagersnap
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Also a learner here, so not fully certain, but I think you'd use a Gerund construction for "He was wanting to eat". I.e. something like "Él estuvo queriendo comer".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda_from_NJ

This is a correct, if rarely used, sentence, eagersnap.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/koofaya
koofaya
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I don't think anyone would say "was wanting to sth"... Is it even correct? I'm not a native speaker but they always taught us that verbs like love, like, want etc. don't form continous tenses. (Unless it's a McDonald's commercial)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kdammers
kdammers
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It is easier to use the continuous with stative verbs than to use them in the present. For example, he was wanting to work while he was waiting for his visa papers to be processed. But in general, yes, we don't use stative with the continuous, although it is being used more and more. Perhaps in 66 years its use will be being almost usual.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda_from_NJ

As a native English speaker, I would say, "He wanted to work while he was waiting ... . Both actions happened in the past, but the first part of the sentence refers to his desire to work during a specific cycle of time that ended (the preterite), while the second part of the sentence refers to a pst time that was ongoing.

I don't know if this helps Spanish speakers understand Spanish, but it sure points out to me that English speaks have only one simple past tense.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Telisa7
Telisa7
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". . . was wanting" was the suggested answer today, when I answered incorrectly.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/paayzer

Why the answer "he would like to eat" isn't right as well?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rickydito

paayzer: It could mean "he would like to eat" but only in the sense of a habitual action in the past; for example, "When he was young, he would want to eat" (a lot) or (every hour) or (even if he wasn't hungry), etc. Again, "quería" is imperfect tense (past) so do not confuse it with conditional tense "querria" which is used to indicates something a person WOULD do if something else happened.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lisagnipura

Hola Deactivated User: Thanks for your comment. Excellent answer. Many learners - even advanced ones - mix up "quería" (would want, habitual action in the past) with "querría" (would want - if something else happened). Thanks. I will give you an "up vote".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SusanSchre1

Thank you. Now it is clear!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

Because that translates as "Él querría comer", it's just another "r" but they're different verb forms!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FelipeMiranda09

That means "A él le gustaría comer".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lorenamor4

El quería comer pollo pero había carne. El quería ir a la escuela pero no pudo. El quería bailar pero no sabe.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/syllikb
syllikb
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I too thought the imperfect would be translated "was wanting to eat".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tessbee

"Wanted" is a modal verb in Spanish?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda_from_NJ

"Wanted" is not a modal verb in English or Spanish. Spanish does not have modal verbs in the same sense that English has them, even though Spanish verbs are inflected for future tense and conditional tense. What English doesn't have, and Spanish does, is inflected verbs. Inflected verbs are defined as verbs whose endings use suffixes, like -o and -a, to indicate whether a verb is first, second, or third person. These inflections indicate tense the same way that the English modal verbs–will, would, should, and ought–do. "Ought" and "must" are special-case modals because they are defective verbs and thus do not get inflected themselves but still can be matched with any English tense verb.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casiquire

Everything I'm reading about the conditional tense sounds like it's a way of saying "would". Why isn't this "he would want to eat"?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/eagersnap
eagersnap
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Because quería is not conditional tense, but imperfect. The difference is subtle, but you would need an extra r for conditional: Querría.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casiquire

Aah I see, whoops, thanks!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/djusen
djusen
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When the frak did we learn imperfect tense?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kjmess
kjmess
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LOL

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/norma0044
norma0044
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I'm losing the will to live AQUI

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yael8376

Why it considered to be in past time?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ldwix

He would like to eat seems like an acceptable alternative?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda_from_NJ

"Would" is not the preterite tense. The preterite is analogous to the English past tense (the -ed form). Sometimes "used to + verb" can be used. The idea of the preterite is that the past action is finished. Spanish has another tense that English doesn't have, and that tense can be translated to the English past tense as well. That tense is called the Imperfect Tense.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johnrichardevans

I thought this was the would tense so to speak - its not accepting my would lol

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Linda_from_NJ

This verb is in the preterite tense, which in translation to English uses "-ed" or "was ing" or "used to _."

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ROMELIA9
ROMELIA9
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Me.pareve que eatá malo

10 months ago