Expressing Wishes in Spanish: Examples and Listening Practice

If we found “El genio de la lámpara” (Genie in the bottle), we could have “tres deseos” (wishes), but what if the genie only speaks Spanish. That would be a problem! In this lesson, we will learn different ways for expressing wishes in Spanish by using the equivalent structure “I would like to” in Spanish, and verbs like “Desear” (to wish) and “Gustar” (to like). You will also be able to practice with two listening activities in Spanish. Comencemos…

Vocabulary and Grammar Intro: Expressing wishes in Spanish.

Let’s begin by introducing 10 common wishes in Spanish people often have such as “Ser millonario” (being a millionaire) or “Vivir en un lugar pacífico” (live in a peaceful place). Know that you can check their pronunciation later with the audio examples in this lesson.

Expressing a list of common wishes in Spanish
Los deseos en español

Saying “I wish” and “I want” in Spanish

In order to say what we “wish” and “would like” in Spanish we can use two verbs: “DESEAR” (to wish) and “QUERER” (to want). These verbs are commonly followed by a verb in infinitive such as “TENER” (to have) as in “(Yo) Deseo tener un auto”/”Yo quiero tener un auto“. Notice that QUERER is a stem-changing verb, so the stem will change to “QUIER-” for all pronouns, except for “Nosotros”. Listen to the following examples using both DESEAR and QUERER for expressing wishes in Spanish.

Yo deseo ser millonario
I wish to be a millionaire
Yo quiero ganarme la lotería
I want to win the lottery

“I would like to” for expressing wishes in Spanish

The most common way to say “I would like to” in Spanish is by using the verbs GUSTAR (to like) and DESEAR (to wish) in its conditional form, that is “el condicional simple”. This can be easily done by adding the suffix “-ía” to the end of the end of the verb. This way “DESEAR” will change to “DESEARÍA” and “GUSTAR” to “GUSTARÍA”. When saying “I would like to…” in Spanish, you will also need a direct object pronoun before GUSTARÍA, e.g. “Me gustaría…” (I would like to), “Te gustaría…” (you would like to) and so on. After GUSTARÍA, we will add an activity like those in the picture above, for example: “Me gustaría poder ayudar a otras personas“.

The conditional form “DESEARÍA” can be used similarly to “GUSTARÍA” for expressing wishes in Spanish, with the difference that we will use normal Spanish subject pronouns not direct object pronouns. This means that instead of saying “Me desearía…”, we simple have to say “Yo desearía…” like in “Yo desearía poder ayudar a otras personas“. In addition, DESEARÍA + infinitive will be used for the subjunctive in Spanish, that is sentences like “I wish I had” and “I wish I could”. In Spanish, we will keep the second part of these forms in the present tense, e.g. “Desearía tener” (I wish I had…) and “Desearía poder” (I wish I could).

Last, another way to say almost the same as “Me gustaría” is by using the verb “QUERER”(to want) in its conditional form “Quisiera” as in “(Yo) quisiera ser millonario“. Here are some more examples using the conditional form of these verbs in Spanish to talk about wishes in Spanish.

Me gustaría viajar alrededor del mundo
I would like to travel around the world
¿Te gustaría dominar varios idiomas?
Would you like to master several languages?
Desearía poder ayudar a otras personas
I would like to help other people
Desearía vivir en un lugar pacífico.
I wish I could live in a peaceful place
Quisiera tener un auto o una casa genial.
I would like to have a nice car or a nice house

Listening Activity No.1: Talking about wishes in Spanish

Listen to someone reading a letter about the things he would like to do in Spanish. Take notes of important details and pay attention to the way the vocabulary and expressions presented in the lesson are used. Press PLAY when you are ready.

Listening quiz: I would like to... (Me gustaría...)

  • Instructions: Listen to a letter telling what someone would like to do in Spanish and then solve the quiz using the information in the podcast.
  • Instrucciones: Escuche una carta de alguien expresando lo que le gustaría hacer en español y luego resuelva el cuestionario usando la información en la grabación.

Letter content: Talking about wishes in Spanish
Querida Masiel,
Hola. Te escribo para contarte lo que me gustaría hacer en el futuro. Primero me gustaría saber varios idiomas, entre ellos chino e italiano. El italiano se parece un poco al español. También quisiera viajar alrededor del mundo, hacer muchos amigos y aprender de varias culturas. Me gustaría visitar Italia y comer pasta y muchas cosas deliciosas. También me gustaría visitarte en España y conocer los lugares más bonitos de ese país. Estoy planeando ir el próximo año ¿Qué te gustaría que te lleve de regalo?

Listening Activity No.2: “If I won the lottery” – Si me ganara la lotería

Listen to a conversation between two friends who are talking about the things they would do in Spanish if they won the lottery. Try to understand what they are talking about the first time you play the audio and then play it again to solve the quiz about it. ¡Buena suerte!

Key phrases in the conversation:
1. “¿Escuchaste las noticias?” means “Did you hear the news?”
2. “¡Imagínate!” Means “Imagine!”
3. “Luna de miel” means “Honeymoon”

Listening quiz: If I won the lottery, I would... in Spanish

Listen to the conversation again and then choose the best answer for each of the questions. Repeat the audio as many times as necessary. You will get a tip for each correct answer. Click on START when you are ready.

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Conversation script: If I won the lottery I would like to... in Spanish
Carmen: Francisco ¿Escuchaste las noticias?
Francisco: No Carmen ¿qué hay de interesante?
Carmen: Alguien se ganó la lotería cerca de mi casa. Deben estar celebrando con una gran fiesta.
Francisco: ¡Imagínate! ¿Qué harías si te ganaras la lotería?
Carmen: ¿Qué no haría? Hay muchas cosas que me gustaría hacer. Me gustaría visitar Europa y también Norteamérica.
Francisco: ¿Por qué quieres ir a Europa?
Carmen: Si ganara la lotería sería fácil viajar a lugares como España, Italia y Francia. Quisiera tener una segunda luna de miel con mi esposo en París.
Francisco: ¡Vaya! Ya te estás poniendo romántica. ¿Qué más te gustaría hacer?
Carmen: No se… desearía tener mucha ropa linda, vestidos hermosos, joyas y muchos zapatos… tú sabes, de todo. Dime, si te ganaras la lotería ¿Qué te gustaría hacer con el dinero?
Francisco: Creo que a mi también me gustaría viajar con calma alrededor del mundo y dominar varios idiomas. Ahorraría parte del dinero y lo invertiría en un negocio. Quisiera vivir en un lugar pacífico y disfrutar de la calma de la naturaleza, y pues no se… me gustaría poder ayudarle a otras personas también.
Carmen: ¡Excelente! Yo digo que vayamos ya mismo a comprar un boleto de lotería.
Francisco: Si verdad.