I encounter many situations where I want to ask someone what they would like as opposed to what they need. For example, I wanted to find a restaurant for our class to have an end of the semester celebration. I wanted to ask my friend if she had any preferences (i.e. western-style food, chinese style food, other style food, location, cost, etc).

I didn't want to say: 你有什么要求? I also didn't want to say 你喜欢什么样的饭馆? How do you ask someone what kind of preferences they have for something?

Here's a better example. I want to rent a flat (i.e. apartment). My friend, a Chinese national, is helping me. He asks me: "你要租什么样的房间?". So at this point there are three classes (at least to my Western mind) of features that I could describe:

  1. What I must-have (我的要求)
  2. What I like (我喜欢的)
  3. What I'd prefer (?)

So I don't want to just say what I "like" because I'm not sure how my friend will interpret that (i.e. I think he will interpret that as a must-have) when in reality I have a list of prioritized preferences where I'm willing to give some up because I know that finding the perfect place isn't possible (for the amount of money that I have). Also, I don't feel that 'like' (i.e. 喜欢) really describes the categorization. For example I like vanilla ice cream, the Golden State Warriors, and comic books. There's nothing that I "like" when it comes to searching for a flat.

  • 1
    Could you elaborate on why you don't want to say "你喜欢什么样的饭馆"?
    – NS.X.
    Jun 28, 2012 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


When asking for preference, you can use 愿意 to indicate what you are willing/prefer to do, or ask what he is willing/prefers to do. You can also use 想 to ask/indicate what he/you wish(es) or is thinking of (doing/wanting).

E.g., 你愿意租什么样的公寓(呀)? 我愿意找个有两层的公寓. (What kind of apartment/flat would you like to rent? I would like to find a two-story apartment/flat.)

You can use 必须 indicate what you must have or have happen.

E.g., 那桌子必须是红色的. (That table must be red.) / 你必须把他带回来. (You must bring him back.) / 那公寓必须有一个浴缸. (That apartment/flat mush have a bathtub.)

If you want to indicate that an alternative something also good/fine, but not would not be your top choice, you can use 也好, 也可以, or 也行.

E.g., 我喜欢(吃)香草(味的)冰淇淋, 不过草莓(味的)也行. (I like [to eat] vanilla [flavored] ice cream, but strawberry [flavored] is fine as well/also good.)

  • 我愿意找个有两层的公寓 sounds unnatural because the stress is on 愿意, it's more like an answer to whether you accept a 2 story apartment rather than what kind of apartment do you prefer. is more precise for this line.
    – NS.X.
    Jul 3, 2012 at 18:03

for casual talk: "我们可以去吃西餐,也可以吃中餐,” + “你更喜欢哪个?" or "你倾向于哪个?" or "哪个是你最爱?"

for normal talk/writing: preference=偏爱,偏好

is it what you need?

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