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All about Vouloir

Everything you need to know about the irregular French verb vouloir


Vouloir is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in conjugation and has several different meanings, depending on the tense and mood it is conjugated into.

Vouloir indicates a strong will or command - "to want" or "to wish":

   Je veux danser avec toi.
   I want to dance with you.

   Voulez-vous parler ?
   Do you wish to speak?

   Je ne veux pas le faire !
   I don't want to (I won't) do it!

Polite requests and desires
Vouloir can be used to express polite requests or desires in three different constructions.

1. In a question

   Voulez-vous m'aider, s'il vous plaît ?
   Will you help me, please?

   Veux-tu t'asseoir, s'il te plaît ?
   Please sit down.

2. In the conditional

   Je voudrais du thé.
   I would like some tea.

   Voudriez-vous venir avec nous ?
   Would you like to come with us?

3. In the imperative, usually in the second person plural, to express an extremely polite request.

   Veuillez m'excuser.
   Please (be so kind as to) excuse me.

   Veuillez vous asseoir.
   Please sit down.

Vouloir bien
Vouloir bien means to be willing to, to be glad to, to be good/kind enough to.

   Je veux bien le faire.
   I'd be glad to do it.

   Elle veut bien l'acheter, mais il ne le vend pas.
   She's willing to buy it, but he's not selling it.

   Aidez-moi, si vous voulez bien.
   Help me, if you would be so kind.

Vouloir dire
Vouloir dire means "to mean" (very useful in your French class!)

   Que veut dire « volontiers » ?
   What does "volontiers" mean?

   « Volontiers » veut dire « gladly ».
   "Volontiers" means "gladly."

En vouloir
En vouloir à quelqu'un means to hold something against someone (be upset about something):

   Il m'en veut de l'avoir fait.
   He holds it against me for doing that.

   Ne m'en veux pas !
   Don't hold it against me!


Vouloir is followed directly by the infinitive, with no preposition.

   Je veux le faire.
   I want to do it.

   Nous voulons savoir.
   We want to know.

When vouloir is in a main clause with another verb in a subordinate clause, that verb must be in the subjunctive.

   Je veux qu'il le fasse.
   I want him to do it.

   Nous voulons que tu le saches.
   We want you to know (it).

Vouloir can have different meanings in the imperfect and passé composé. Learn more in my lesson on advanced French past tenses


Present tense

   je veux
   tu veux
   il veut
   nous voulons
   vous voulez
   ils veulent

Vouloir in all tenses

Most common French verbs
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