Difference between 想 and 要

When I say “I want to do research on Chinese language”, it seems 我想研究汉语 and 我要研究汉语 both work. I have noticed that sometimes 想 and 要 are interchangeable, also, they are used together as 想要 in some cases.

My question is, what’s the difference between the two words 想 and 要?



asked 2 years, 4 months ago

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1 Answer

Both 想and 要 are markers of intention. However, 要 represents a stronger intention than 想: the latter connotes more of a wish and the former more of a “will”. 想 stresses the wishing or planning of taking an action and 要 the urge or demand for carrying it out.

In your example, “我要研究汉语” implies a much stronger determination than “我想研究汉语”.



answered 2 years, 4 months ago

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