Don’t Say “Me Gustaría” [10 Better Alternatives in Spanish]

In Spanish, “me gustaría” is used as a way to ask for things. It is used to talk about desires and is used as a polite expression. “Me gustaría” is the conditional form of “me gusta,” which means “I would like.”

If you’re currently studying Spanish you’ve likely seen this phrase used in Spanish textbooks In English, you commonly use this phrase when you order at restaurants. While the same applies in Spanish, it’s used in other situations too.

For example, “este año me gustaría ir a España” means, “this year I’d like to go to Spain.” 

In this example, we use “me gustaría” for things we desire that are either impossible, difficult, or not immediately achievable. In other words, it’s more suitable for situations where the sky’s the limit. 

By contrast, “me gustaría” is not commonly used in restaurants because your options on the menu are limited.

By contrast, “me gustaría” is not commonly used in restaurants because your options on the menu are limited. 

For me, a native speaker, “me gustaria” sounds too formal for most restaurants because of the limited nature of a menu. You are expected to choose from what is available to the restaurant as outlined by a set list. 

As with any grammatical rule, there are exceptions. In certain situations, such as in a fancy restaurant, you could use “me gustaría un vino tinto” — I would like a red wine. Here, you are hoping that the restaurant has red wine available, but without specifying which kind of wine by name, you’re almost implying that any red wine will do. So again, we have “me gustaría” being appropriate for situations where the realm of possibilities has not been established.

To help clarify this phrase in greater detail, this post will highlight when to use it, when not to use it, and some other phrases you can use instead.

First, let’s go over some alternatives to “me gustaría.”

1. Me da… / Me das…

Me da (formal) or me das (informal) means “give me.” This may sound overly direct, but this phrase is perfectly acceptable if you add the ever important “por favor” (please).

Saying this phrase with a rising intonation is vital to clarify that you are asking a question and not making a demand. 

  • Formal: ¿Me da… por favor? – Can you please give me?
  • Informal: ¿Me das… por favor? – Can you please give me?

2. Me trae / Me traes

This one means “bring me” in Spanish. Like “me da,” it can sound quite direct. So be sure to add “por favor” (please) at the end.

  • Formal: ¿Me Trae…, por favor? (Can you please bring me?)
  • Informal: ¿Me Traes…, por favor? – (Can you please bring me?)

3. Lo / La / Te molesto con

Now, this next phrase is not as common as other phrases that we have covered in our videos and articles, but to Mexican ears, there are very few phrases that sound as nice and polite as this one. 

  • ¿Lo (formal, speaking to a man) molesto con…? 
  • ¿La (formal, speaking to a woman) molesto con…?
  • ¿Te (informal) molesto con…?

These all mean “Can I bother you for…?” 

You can use this phrase when ordering extra things that you need.

For example: 

  • ¿Te / Lo / La molesto con un poco más de café? – Can I bother you for a little bit more coffee? 

4. Voy a querer

The following phrase is widespread and simple. Though it might sound a little bit weird in English:

  • “Voy a querer” – I’m going to want…”

Example: Voy a querer los chilaquiles verdes, por favor. – I’m going to want the green chilaquiles, please.

5, 6, & 7. Quiero / Deme, Dame / Tráigame, Tráeme

These next phrases are ones that we don’t often use in Mexico, but you must know as you may encounter them in your travels:

  • Quiro – I want 
  • Deme – Give me (formal)
  • Dame – Give me (informal)
  • Tráigame – Bring me (formal)
  • Tráeme – Bring me (informal)

These phrases are not common in Mexico, especially in restaurants because they sound way too demanding. That said, they are often used in more informal, day-to-day situations. For example, at a taco stand (or any food take-out place). Essentially, they’re used for quick transactions. 

As with all other phrases on this list, it’s important to add “por favor.” 

For example, if you are at a taco stand, let the person ask you what you want. Then, you can respond, “¿Me da unos tacos, por favor? (Can you please give me some tacos?)

That way, you sound less demanding.

8. Le encargo / Te encargo

This phrase is extremely common in most of Mexico and parts of Guatemala, but is not often heard in other Spanish-speaking countries. Le encargo (formal) or te encargo (informal) means, “Can you bring me…?” or “Can I get..?”

This phrase is rarely found in Spanish textbooks but it is a must know if you plan to travel in Mexico. You can use it for anything you need at a restaurant. For example: 

  • ¿Le encargo una limonada? – Can you bring me a lemonade?
  • ¿Te encargo otro tenedor? – Can you bring me another fork?

9. Va a ser / Van a ser

This next phrase has its singular and plural form.

  • Singular: Va a ser… – It’s going to be…
  • Plural: Van a ser… – It’s going to be…

These phrases are used when you order more than one thing at a time. Basically the difference between ordering a juice (singular), and ordering four margaritas (plural). There’s “va” (singual) and “van” (plural). You’ll use “Va a ser” when the first thing you order is a singular noun, for example: 

  • “Va a ser una torta vegetariana y un jugo de naranja.” – It’s going to be a vegetarian torta and an orange juice.

You’ll use “Van a ser” when the first thing you are ordering is a plural noun, for example: 

  • “Van a ser dos quesadillas y un licuado de fresa.” – It’s going to be two quesadillas and a strawberry smoothie.

10. Para mi

This last phrase is very easy and simple, “Para mi” means “for me.” You use this when you are eating with another person and it is your turn to order. For example: 

Para mi va a ser un pozole rojo y un guacamole. – For me, it’s going to be a red pozole and guacamole.

Learning how to use these specific phrases will help you deliver your message appropriately. While textbooks cover the basics, you can deepen your vocabulary by implementing these common phrases. Not only will it improve your Spanish, but it will make your interactions feel more local and natural. Being polite and delivering words in the right tone is always important when speaking a new language too. It will go a long way to helping you fit in and be welcomed by native speakers as you travel and explore and improve your Spanish! 

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