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3.9.8: Wanting to do something with "yao"

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    The auxiliary verb 要 (yào) has several different meanings, and here we'll tackle the "want to" meaning. To express "wanting to do" something, use 要 (yào) before the verb.


    The verb 要 (yào) can be used as an auxiliary verb to indicate wanting to do something.

    Subj. + 要 + Verb + Obj.


    • 学 中文。Tā yào xué Zhōngwén.He wants to study Chinese.
    • 宝宝 睡觉。Bǎobao yào shuìjiào.The baby wants to sleep.
    • 早饭 我 吃 肉。Zǎofàn wǒ yào chī ròu.For breakfast I want to eat meat.
    • 今天 很 累,我 休息。Jīntiān hěn lèi, wǒ yào xiūxi.Today I'm very tired. I want to rest.
    • 这 个 周末 你们 做什么?Zhège zhōumò nǐmen yào zuò shénme?This weekend what do you want to do?

    要 (yào) and 想 (xiǎng)

    Instead of using 要 (yào), it is also possible to use the word 想 (xiǎng). These two words are largely interchangeable, and both can mean "to want." The small difference is that 要 (yào) is often used for something you want to or need to do, and plan to take action on. It can sound a bit more demanding (and less polite). 想 (xiǎng) on the other hand, often conveys an idea on one's mind, that one may or may not take action on. You can think of it as meaning "would like to."


    • 喝 咖啡 。 I am going to get my hands on some coffeeyào hē kāfēi.I want to drink coffee.
    • 喝 咖啡 。 I want to drink a cup of coffee, but may or may not act on thatxiǎng hē kāfēi.I'd like to drink coffee.
    • 吃 什么 ?Nǐ yào chī shénme?What do you want to eat?
    • 吃 什么 ?Nǐ xiǎng chī shénme?What would you like to eat?

    This page titled 3.9.8: Wanting to do something with "yao" is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by .

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