1

I have just read the following sentence in an Italian learning tool:

Lui vorrebbe diventare dottore.

It is translated as "He would like to become a doctor". What is the difference between the sentence above and "Gli piacerebbe diventare dottore"? I guess that it may depend whether the goal is planned/feasible/reachable soon or not, but I am not sure.

  • 1
    “Io vorrei” or “mi piacerebbe” are generally translated as “I’d like”. – user519 Sep 26 '19 at 15:03
  • So, @Gio, both sentences have essentially the same meaning. Could you write it as an answer? Maybe with some reference to Collins dictionary here and here. – Charo Sep 26 '19 at 20:00
4

The sentences “vorrei diventare dottore” and “mi piacerebbe diventare dottore” are essentially equivalent, although the latter would more likely be “mi piacerebbe fare il dottore”.

However, “vorrei” and “mi piacerebbe” are not generally equivalent: you should never translate “I'd like some tea, please” into

*mi piacerebbe del tè, per favore

that can unfortunately be found in cheap translations. It should be “(vorrei) del tè, grazie”; the verb can be omitted.

One could actually state that there is a tiny difference between “mi piacerebbe andare in Spagna” and “vorrei andare in Spagna”: the former might mean a vague desire, whereas the latter could show a stronger intention. However, in this context the difference would be so tiny that nobody could perceive it. Let's imagine a dialogue:

— Mi piacerebbe andare in Spagna.
— E quando vorresti andarci?

I don't think anybody would reply with “E quando ti piacerebbe andarci?” that would sound like the “tea” example above. Another dialogue:

— Vorrei andare in Spagna.
— In che stagione ti piacerebbe andarci?

Such a reply could emphasize the fact that there are large seasonal differences in Spain, asking what season the person would like the most. All in all, these are nuances.

The “tea” example shows that Italian politeness rules are very different from the English. For Italian, the conditional of volere is normally understood as a polite form.

| improve this answer | |
  • Is there a reasoning in the likely choices? It seems to me that "volere" is used with implicit requests (eg vorrei del tè) and with concrete intentions (eg vorrei andare a Spagna il mese prossimo. Comprerò i biglietti aerei domani), while "piaccere" is used with vague intentions (eg mi piacerebbe andare a Spagna (un giorno)). Is that right? – Alan Evangelista Sep 27 '19 at 11:27
  • @AlanEvangelista Yes, there's a tiny difference, I'll expand. – egreg Sep 27 '19 at 11:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.