Querer Conjugation, Meanings, and Expressions

Querer conjugation, meanings, and expressions

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Whether you’ve been learning Spanish for a long time or you’re new to it, the verb querer is one of those basic verbs that you’ll surely need to use frequently. So much so that you will encounter it in our post on verbs in Spanish that every beginner should learn first.

This post is a must-read for beginner students because we’ll give you the basics for meanings, usage, and every querer conjugation. Likewise, if you’re an intermediate or advanced student, revisiting this verb is worthwhile as it will help you make sure you understand the different contexts and functions of the versatile verb querer.

We’ll start by presenting all the conjugations of the different tenses of the verb querer. Then we’ll see uses and meanings in different situations, and we’ll cover some expressions with querer commonly used by native speakers. At the end of this post you’ll be able to test your brand new knowledge about this interesting verb with some exercises. All of this, only if you want to – ¡Solo si tú quieres!

Querer conjugation

Querer is an irregular verb. This means that querer follows a unique conjugation pattern that needs to be learned by heart. For instance, the querer stem changes from que- to qui- in some tenses.

For you to better understand how to conjugate querer in Spanish, we’ll divide the conjugation sets into simple forms and compound forms.

Querer conjugation: Simple tenses

We will see that que- changes to qui- in many of the following verb forms. That means that querer is a stem changing verb. Does it ring a bell? For more on how this type of verb works, check out our post on stem changing verbs in Spanish.

Subject Present Imperfect Preterite Future
Yo quiero quería quise querré
quieres querías quisiste querrás
Él, Ella, Usted quiere quería quiso querrá
Nosotros, Nosotras queremos queríamos quisimos querremos
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes quieren querían quisieron querrán


Note that the querer stem changes in the preterite but keeps the regular preterite endings. If you need more details on irregular verb conjugations in the preterite, have a look at our post on irregular preterite verbs.

Subject Conditional Present subjunctive Imperfect subjunctive Imperative
Yo querría quiera quisiera / quisiese
querrías quieras quisieras / quisieses quiere
Él, Ella, Usted querría quiera quisiera / quisiese quiera
Nosotros, Nosotras querríamos queramos quisiéramos / quisiésemos
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes querrían quieran quisieran quieran

Querer conjugation: Compound tenses

In the following conjugation chart, we present the querer conjugation in the compound tenses. As you can see, the participle of querer is querido. Another non-personal form of the verb querer is the gerund, which is queriendo in Spanish.

Subject Present perfect Pluperfect Preterite perfect Future perfect
Yo he querido había querido hube querido habré querido
has querido habías querido hubiste querido habrás querido
Él, Ella, Usted ha querido había querido hubo querido habrá querido
Nosotros, Nosotras hemos querido habíamos querido hubimos querido habremos querido
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes han querido habían querido hubieron querido habrán querido


Subject Conditional perfect Present perfect subjunctive Pluperfect subjunctive
Yo habría querido haya querido hubiera querido
habrías querido hayas querido hubieras querido
Él, Ella, Usted habría querido haya querido hubiera querido
Nosotros, Nosotras habríamos querido hayamos querido hubiéramos querido
Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes habrían querido hayan querido hubieran querido

Querer in Spanish: Different uses and meanings

Generally speaking, querer in Spanish is used to express desires or wants. According to context, querer may be translated as to love or to want. However, there are some slight differences in meaning in certain situations and when the verb querer is conjugated in some tenses. We will see those cases in detail in this section of our post.

Querer + noun: To want something

Querer in Spanish means to want, and we use it when expressing wishes or desires. When we want something we use it followed by a noun.

  • Mi tía Laura quiere un caballo para su cumpleaños. – My aunt Laura wants a horse for her birthday.
  • Los niños querrán dulces para ir al cine. – The kids will want candies to go to the cinema.
  • ¿Quieres un café? – Do you want a coffee?

Querer + infinitive: To want to do something

When we conjugate querer and follow it with an action verb in its infinitive form, we’re saying that the subject wants to do that action. In this case, querer is acting as a modal verb.

  • Queremos ir de vacaciones al Caribe. – We want to go on vacation to the Caribbean.
  • Pedro ha querido pintar la cocina de verde. – Pedro has wanted to paint his kitchen green.
  • Hubiéramos querido comer algo más sabroso. – We would have wanted to eat something tastier.

Querer + infinitive: Going to

In some areas of Latin America, people use querer + infinitive to mean going to. This is similar to the the ir a + infinitive construction for talking about the near future (which we like to call the “voy a” hack), though more in the sense of predictions than plans. Let’s see some examples:

  • Quiere llover. – It’s going to rain. (Imagine a grey sky with many black clouds.)
  • Quieres enfermarte. – You’re going to get ill. (Imagine a mom telling this to her kid with no coat in winter.)

Querer que + subjunctive: To make a request

If we want someone to do something for us, the structure should be querer que + verb in subjunctive mood. Our querer conjugation here is in the indicative mood. We use the subjunctive mood for the action we want the other person to do since it’s still uncertain whether or not they’ll actually do it.

  • Mis padres querían que fuéramos a cenar a su casa. – My parents wanted us to go for dinner at their house.
  • Sergio no quería que su hijo cocinara. – Sergio didn’t want his son to cook.
  • El presidente quiere que todos los ciudadanos paguen impuestos. – The president wants all citizens to pay taxes.

Querer a + someone: To love someone

You can also put your querer conjugations to work when you need to show affection to someone, a person, or a pet. If this is the case, you will need to place the preposition a after the verb querer.

  • Mis hijos quieren mucho a nuestros perros. – My kids love our dogs very much.
  • Los soldados querían a sus compañeros. – The soldiers loved their mates.
  • Gustavo quiere a Carlos, son amigos hace más de 10 años. – Gustavo loves Carlos, they’ve been friends for more than 10 years.

For a deeper explanation on the nuances of different ways to express your love in Spanish, check out our post on Te Quiero vs Te Amo. And if you want more vocab for love and other feelings, you can have a look at our post on how to express emotions in Spanish.

Querer in imperfect, conditional, or imperfect subjunctive: To show courtesy

We can use the verb querer in any of these tenses when we want to show respect, be courteous, or ask for something politely.

For this usage, the conjugated form of querer is usually followed by an infinitive to politely request that its action be done. Adidtionally, as we show in our third example below, our querer conjugation can be followed by que + subjunctive to make a request like we saw in the previous section.

  • Imperfect: Quería saber si el vuelo proveniente de Uruguay llegará pronto. – I would like to know if the flight from Uruguay will arrive soon.
  • Conditional: Querríamos sacar un boleto a Mar de Ajó. – We would like to buy a ticket for Mar de Ajó.
  • Imperfect subjunctive: La profesora quisiera que no hicieran tanto ruido. – The teacher would like that you not make so much noise.

For more on these tenses, don’t hesitate to check our dedicated posts on the Spanish imperfect tense, on the Spanish conditional tense, and on the imperfect subjunctive in Spanish.

No + querer preterite: To refuse

In negations, the preterite conjugations of querer translate as refused.

  • Le ofrecí un aumento de sueldo, pero no quiso aceptarlo. – I offered him a salary raise but he refused to accept it.
  • Nosotras los invitamos pero ellos no quisieron venir. – We invited them but they refused to come.

These are really subtle differences and mastering them will make you sound like a pro! Meanwhile, if you still have some doubts about when to use preterite or imperfect in Spanish, check out our article Preterite vs Imperfect: An anti-confusion guide where you’ll find querer and many other verbs.

Querer imperfect vs Querer preterite

We’ve just seen two specific sets of contexts where the imperfect and preterite querer conjugations have specific uses: to make polite requests with the imperfect, and as a past tense of “to refuse” when used in the negative with the preterite.

But what about when we just want to express our usual meaning of to want in the past tense? Let’s see the nuances of using querer in the imperfect vs preterite tenses.

When we conjugate querer in the past tense using the preterite, we’re referring to a to a specific event. Someone wanted or didn’t want something at a specific time, and the outcome was negative.

When we use our querer conjugation in the imperfect, we’re referring when the subject wanted something more generally, including habits or repeated actions, and we don’t know what the actual outcome was.

Let’s see some examples where we compare similar circumstances using querer in preterite vs imperfect to see the differences in their meanings. You’ll notice that the verb querer may be translated with different English verbs, reflecting their different meanings according to tense and context.

  • Imperfect: Reina siempre quería desayunar sushi. – Reina always wanted sushi for breakfast. (Whenever she had breakfast, she wanted to have sushi. We don’t know whether she had it sometimes or not.)
  • Preterite: Siempre quise desayunar sushi cuando vivía en Japón, pero nunca pude. – I always wanted to have sushi for breakfast when I was living in Japan, but I never could. (I wanted to have it at least once while I was living there, but the occasion never presented itself.)
  • Imperfect: Cuando era joven quería ser bombero. – When I was young I wanted to be a firefighter. (I longed to be a firefighter for some undefined period. We don’t know whether I made it or not.)
  • Preterite: Cuando era joven quise ser bombero pero no aprobé el examen. – When I was young I wanted to be a firefighter but I didn’t pass the exam. (This desired career path was at a specific period of time in my past and I finished wanting it once I failed the exam.)
  • Imperfect: Ella quería tener un perro, pero sus padres no le dejaban. – She wanted to have a dog, but her parents wouldn’t let her. (We know about her wish in the past but we don’t know when exactly.)
  • Preterite: Esas vacaciones de verano, ella quiso tener un perro y fue al refugio de mascotas a buscar uno. – That summer break, she wanted to have a dog, and she went to the animal shelter to get one. (The action took place during a specific period of time.)

Spanish expressions based around Querer

So far our focus began with querer conjugation, and then we looked at the various meanings of querer depending on its tense and context.

To round out our post, now we’re ready to introduce a number of Spanish expressions that feature querer in them, but whose meanings differ from the literal translations of querer we saw above. Let’s see these querer expressions to bring your understanding of this verb to another level!

Querer decir

To mean

  • ¿Qué quiere decir “manija”? – What’s the meaning of “manija”? – What does “manija” mean?
  • ¿Qué quieres decir con eso? – What do you mean by that?

Sin querer

Involuntarily, Unintentionally, Without meaning to

  • Matías lo empujó a Felipe, pero fue sin querer. – Matías pushed Felipe but it was not intentional.
  • Sarita rompió el jarrón de vidrio pero lo hizo sin querer. – Sarita broke the glass jar but it was unintentional.

Querer por esposa/o a

To take this woman/man to be your wife/husband

This is a set phrase commonly pronounced in wedding ceremonies.

  • Gastón, ¿quieres por esposa a Ofelia? – Gastón, do you take Ofelia to be your wife?

Hacerse querer

To endear onself to, To make lovable

  • Ella se hace querer por sus amigos porque es muy amable. – She endears herself to her friends with her gentle ways.
  • Pedro se hace querer por sus alumnos. – Pedro endears himself to his students.


Anytime, Whenever

  • Nos reuniremos cuandoquiera. – We’ll meet up anytime.
  • Llámame cuandoquiera. – Call me anytime.


Wherever, Anywhere

  • Dondequiera que me busques, allí estaré. – Wherever you look for me, I’ll be there.
  • Dondequiera que mire allí está él. – Wherever I look, there he is.


In whatever way

  • Él es lo importante, comoquiera que se llame. – He is what matters, however he’s named. – He is what matters, whatever his name is.
  • Comoquiera que sea, no tenemos dinero. – In whatever way, we don’t have any money. – However we look at it, we have no money.

Quiera o no quiera

Like it or not, Whether he/she likes it or not

Conjugated in the third person like this, this expression can either be a general comment without a designated subject, or be aimed at a specific person. This expression can also be conjugated to other subjects, for instance as quieras o no quieras for whether you like it or not.

  • Teo vendrá con nosotros, quiera o no quiera. – Teo will come with us whether he likes it or not.
  • María tendrá que entregar el trabajo práctico, quiera o no quiera. – María will have to hand in the practical assignment, whether she likes it or not.


So far so good! By now we’ve covered everything you need to know about the important Spanish verb querer.

First, we saw that it’s an irregular verb, and we went through our various querer conjugation tables.

Then we looked at our querer meanings. We learned that while querer often means to want or to love in Spanish, it also has some other meanings in certain contexts or tenses. In particular, we saw how to use querer to make polite requests by using it in the conditional.

To round out the post, we saw some of the querer expressions used by native Spanish speakers.

¡Esperamos que este post haya sido lo que querías! – We hope this post has been what you wanted! Now you’re all set to continue with some exercises.

Exercises: Querer conjugation

Complete the sentences with the correct querer conjugation.

1. Nosotros _____ que las cosas cambien ahora.

2. De niño yo no _____ ir al colegio nunca.

3. En la película de “El hombre araña,” Luisa Lane _____ mucho a Peter Parker.

4. Espero que Eloisa _____ bailar conmigo en la fiesta.

5. El año próximo, nosotros _____ ir de vacaciones a Cancún.

6. En 1985, Patricia _____ comer pescado por primera vez.

7. Anoche llovió mucho, pero no tanto como _____.

8. ¿Qué _____ decir “anonadado”?

9. Tendrás que hacer la tarea _____ o no _____.

10. ¡Hola!, _____ saber a qué hora sale el último tren a Buenos Aires, por favor.

Answers: Querer conjugation

1. Nosotros queremos que las cosas cambien ahora. – We want things to change now.

2. De niño yo no quería ir al colegio nunca. – When I was a kid I would never want to go to school.

3. En la película de “El hombre araña”, Luisa Lane quiere mucho a Peter Parker. – In the “Spider Man” movie, Luisa Lane loves Peter Parker a lot.

4. Espero que Eloisa quiera bailar conmigo en la fiesta. – I hope Eloisa wants to dance with me at the party.

5. El año próximo, nosotros querremos ir de vacaciones a Cancún. – Next year, we will want to go to Cancún on vacation.

6. En 1985, Patricia quiso comer pescado por primera vez. – In 1985, Patricia wanted to eat fish for the first time.

7. Anoche llovió mucho, pero no tanto como hubiera querido. – Last night it rained a lot but not as much as I’d have wanted it to.

8. ¿Qué quiere decir “anonadado”? – What’s the meaning of “anonadado”?

9. Tendrás que hacer la tarea quieras o no quieras. – You’ll have to do your homework, whether you like it or not.

10. ¡Hola!, quería saber a qué hora sale el último tren a Buenos Aires, por favor. – Hi! I’d like to know when the last train to Buenos Aires is departing, please.


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