Wanting to do something with "yao"
The verb 要 (yào) can be used as an auxiliary verb to indicate wanting to do something.
Subject + 要 + Verb + Object
- 我 要 吃 饭。I want to eat.
- 他 要 学 中文。He wants to study Chinese.
- 她 要 去 酒吧。She wants to go to the bar.
- 我 要 去 上海。I want to go to Shanghai.
- 宝宝 要 睡觉。The baby wants to sleep.
- 我们 要 去 超市。We want to go to the supermarket.
- 我 要 去 上班。I want to go to work.
- 我 今天 要 吃 沙拉。Today I want to eat salad.
- 我 要 做 中国 菜。I want to make Chinese food.
- 我 要 请 你们 来 我 家。I want to invite you to come to my home.
要 and 想
Instead of using 要 (yào) it is also possible to use the word 想 (xiǎng). These two words are both modal verbs and are largely interchangeable, and both generally mean "to want." The only difference worth mentioning is that 要 (yào) is often used when it is something you want to/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, is often used as an idea of one's mind, that one may or may not take action on. You can think of it as meaning "would like to."
For more information about the comparison between 想 (xiǎng) and 要 (yào) , see Comparing "yao" and "xiang".
For more information about how express "would like to" with 想 (xiǎng), see "Would like to" with "xiang".
- 我 要 喝 咖啡 。 (I am going to get my hands on some coffee)I want to drink coffee.
- 我 想 喝 咖啡 。 (I want to drink a cup of coffee, but may or may not act on that)I'd like to drink coffee.
- 你 要 吃 什么 ？ What do you want to eat?
- 你 想 吃 什么 ？ What would you like to eat?
Sources and Further Reading
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 (3rd ed) (p. 231) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 1 (新实用汉语课本1) (pp. 179-80) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 1 (新实用汉语课本1)(2nd ed) (p. 207) →buy