Learn English – “I like to” vs. “I’d like to”


When making a polite request, people often use the phrase, "I'd like to [SOME REQUEST]". But I also see the form, "I like to [SOME REQUEST]". For example, a former boss would arbitrarily interchange

I'd like to hold a meeting

with the other usage:

I like to hold a meeting

Up until recently I considered the first form more correct, and thought of the second form as a malapropism (or is it a mondegreen?). But now I'm not so sure. "I'd like to" implies the conditional mood ("I would") which is more tentative than the intended request.

"I like to hold a meeting" is more indirect, and perhaps more polite, than "Please hold a meeting". But "I would like to" is even more indirect and conveys indecisiveness.

Is there clear guidance on which form? Does it depend on the nature of the request?

Best Answer

@John Lawler has already given you the "clear guidance".

would like can be a polite replacement of 'want'.

  • I'd like two kilos of sugar, please.
  • Would you like to dance?

Generally, after would like, would prefer, would hate and would love, infinitives are most often used.

  • I'd like to tell you something

I'd like to hold a meeting is definitely an apt expression/request coming from a person in authority, in this case your Boss.

  • More often than not, the tone of the expression/purpose of the intended meeting, would determine the degree of politeness.

I like to hold a meeting can be considered equivalent to -choose to; it's my habit.

  • when I pour tea I like to put the milk in first .
  • I like to hold meetings.