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I know it's probably not the best way to say it. Perhaps something more elaborate like "他想要在家里“ would sound better. But is the barebones version 他要在家 incorrect? To be clear, I mean this as a complete sentence, not the first half of a sentence like 他要在家看书, but just a complete sentence: "他要在家。” Maybe he's homesick, or something like that.

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4 Answers 4

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If you want to convey literal homesickness you can say 想家, or more generally 懷鄉 for hometown/land.

The phrase you wrote is correct, but with no other context I would read it as needing to stay home (for something)-- I personally would not think in the direction of homesick or the like for that phrasing.

Chinese is highly context reliant, so a good phrase for wanting to stay home for homesickness, wanting to stay home to study, or wanting to stay home to rest are unlikely to be covered by just one term/phrase.

Some non homesick examples:

我想留在家好好休息 I want to stay at home to rest

我想留好好看著家 I want to stay at home to watch over the house (while everyone else is out etc.)

我想留在家讀完大學了 I want to stay at home to finish college.

If you have a specific scenario in mind it'll help in determining the best way to say something :)

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他要在家... is perfectly fine grammatically. - He wants to stay home to.....

  • 他要在家讀書/做功課/睡懶覺.
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  • What about if it isn't followed by another activity? As in, I don't want to say "he wants to satay at home to read", or anything else. Simply, "He wants to be at home". Maybe he's homesick, for example.
    – Buddy L
    Dec 26, 2022 at 18:04
  • 他要在家 = 他(想)要待在家(裡). The former is the shortened version of the latter in "verbal conservation". But usually, it follows with a reason or an activity to be a complete sentence.
    – r13
    Dec 26, 2022 at 19:51
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呆在家里 (dāi zài jiā lǐ) might be what you're looking for. For example, "我只是想呆在家里" could be translated to "I just want to stay at home," and "我放假通常呆在家里" could be translated to "I usually stay home on my days off."

Reverso-Context is a good resource for questions like these. You can find my examples there, plus more

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  • But that means something else, doesn't it? It is different to want to stay at home than to want to be at home...Like perhaps I am at work but I'd rather be at home...
    – Buddy L
    Dec 26, 2022 at 20:41
  • Ah, I see what you mean. The word be can be tricky — I think in the right context you could actually translate it as "be at home" rather than "stay at home." For instance, you could say something like "我宁愿呆在家里看书," or "I'd rather be at home reading a book." Dec 26, 2022 at 21:42
  • Fair point -- 我只是要呆在家里 could very likely be what you would say if you were at work, for example, and want to say "I'd rather be home", like "I just want to have stayed at home", or something like that. My question is, though: do you think "我要在家。" , in those exact words, is a complete sentence that someone might say in any circumstance?
    – Buddy L
    Dec 27, 2022 at 17:45
  • Honestly, I'm not 100% sure about any circumstance, and I don't want to be misleading. I will say that I tried using 我要在家 a few times in my Chinese classes, and I was always corrected to specify an action at the end or to use 呆在家里 Dec 27, 2022 at 18:14
  • I'm with laowai-guide on this. I'd suggest either 呆在 or 去, depending on whether English "be home" implies a contrast with leaving home or with staying somewhere that's not home. Unless "want to be home" is strictly meant to express a preference for "at home" as a general context for an unspecified or previously mentioned action, in which case it's actually the 我要 bit that might need changing to something equally more general, such as a straightforward 还是 or 不如. Unless the topic is already implied by context, in which case 我要在家 won't sound quite as incomplete as it does in isolation.
    – Sanchuan
    Dec 27, 2022 at 19:05
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It's basically correct, but 要 is ambiguous, it could mean want, need/must or going to.

If you want to convey desire more clearly, use 想 instead.

他想在家

If you feel the phrasing is awkward and want to make it sound more definitive you can add 處(to be located at).

他想處在家

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