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Following a previous discussion about I would like vs I would have liked, I have a similar question.

What is the difference between

I wanted to come to your party but I couldn't

I would have liked to come to your party but I couldn't.

  • what was the previous discussion? "would have liked" is slightly more polite than "wanted". – Mixolydian May 28 '19 at 20:12
  • While true that "want" is more direct than "would like", I don't think that makes it rude in this context. If anything, the less passive wish to have been at the party might be more appreciated by the listener/host. – the-baby-is-you May 29 '19 at 2:11
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Very straightforward: "I want doesn't get" - some people consider it rude to say that you 'want' something. It is considered more polite to state your preference rather than your demand. For some reason chief executives and suchlike are allowed to say "I want this company to be ...". Such words suggests urgency but in normal social life urgency is not thought desirable.

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  • I wanted to come to your party but I couldn't
  • I would have liked to come to your party but I couldn't.

In current usage, there is little if any difference between these two. When discussing a current or future desire, "I would like to" is considered by many to be more polite than "I want". Many others do not make a distinction here.

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