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Could someone please give we a hint when to use either of those?!

My take is that 想 is used for actions and 喜欢 for things!? Am I right?

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In short, means "think (of)" when followed by noun phrases or clauses, and "want to" when followed by verb phrases, while 喜欢 simply means "like / be fond of" in all cases.

Some details:

  1. When followed by nouns/pronouns,

    • means "think of / consider" or "miss", for example:

      我在想你 = I am missing you; 我在想这个问题 = I am considering this question.

    • 喜欢 means "like", for example:

      我喜欢你 = I like you

  2. When followed by verb phrases,

    • means "want to (do)", for example:

      我想吃鱼 = I want to eat fish

    • 喜欢 means "like to (do)" or "like (doing)", expressing non-momentary preference, hence not "would like to (do)", for example:

      我喜欢吃鱼 = I like eating fish

  3. When followed by clauses,

    • means "think (that)", for example:

      我想他不会来了 = I think (that) he won't come.

      Two relevant notes here:

      a. When 想要 is followed by clauses, it doesn't mean "think (that)", but "want A to do", where A is the subject of the following clause, for example:

      我想要他唱 = I want him to sing.

      BTW, a few native speakers may feel that 想要 in this usage is interchangeable with .

      b. When 不想(要), in which "要" can be omitted, is followed by clauses, it doesn't mean "not think (that)", but "not want A to do", where A is the subject of the following clause, for example:

      我不想(要)你来 = I do not want you to come.

    • 喜欢 means "like it that", for example:

      我喜欢你这样做 = I like it that you do it this way

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The answer by @user3306356 reminded me that this answer lacked a brief summary at the beginning. Thanks for that. – Noir May 17 '14 at 0:20
Thanks for the detailed answer. These permutations in meaning had puzzeld me a lot. – user137313 May 18 '14 at 8:18

想 has several meanings:

  1. think(想法)
  2. suppose(想来)
  3. miss(想念)
  4. want to(想要)

喜欢 as a verb, it means to like or to love.

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Because I find the other answers a little overwhelming and unclear I'm going to add my own two-cents:

[and the reason for my explanation being based completely on the confusion found in OP's question]

想 is just a shortened form of 想要 meaning "to want"

喜欢 means "to like"

·I like chocolate = 我喜欢巧克力

·I want to eat chocolate = 我想吃巧克力

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We use想for the meaning of thinking,as 我想去中国 I want to go to China. We use喜欢for the meaning of like,as 我喜欢中国 I like China.

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想 means think of (something or doing something)

喜欢 means to like (something or doing something or someone).

To answer your question,

想 isn't necessarily used for actions, it could also be "thinking of something or someone"

喜欢 isn't necessarily used for things, it could also be "like" doing something"

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