Wanting to do something with "yao"
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.
- 他 要 学 中文。He wants to study Chinese.
- 宝宝 要 睡觉。The baby wants to sleep.
- 早饭 我 要 吃 肉。For breakfast I want to eat meat.
- 今天 很 累，我 要 休息。 Today I'm very tired. I want to rest.
- 这 个 周末 你们 要 做什么？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."
- 我 要 喝 咖啡 。 I am going to get my hands on some coffeeI want to drink coffee.
- 我 想 喝 咖啡 。 I want to drink a cup of coffee, but may or may not act on thatI'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
- HSK Standard Course 2 (pp. 4) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 (3rd ed) (pp. 231) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 1 (新实用汉语课本1) (pp. 179-80) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 1 (新实用汉语课本1)(2nd ed) (pp. 207) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy