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I am currently trying to figure out how to ask someone what they want to be in the future, as in what do they want to do career-wise. I am not sure which way sounds better. I feel as though the present tense of querer sounds better to me. "What do you want to be?" and "What will you want to be?" are what I translate them to, but I'm not sure if I'm completely correct. I just want to know which would be used more frequently and if I'm translating them in a correct way.

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  • It's strange to say "¿qué querrá ser?" because people don't generally know what they will want to be. They don't know what they will be, but they usually know what they want to be. Therefore, "¿qué quiere ser?" is more appropriate. Besides, note "¿qué querrá ser?" is ambiguous because the future tense is also used to express uncertainty or curiosity, as in "¿qué estarán haciendo ahí dentro?" (What in the world are they doing in there?). Most speakers would probably think you mean the latter. Also, is there any specific reason why you're using "usted" instead of "tú"?
    – Yay
    Mar 23 '16 at 22:55
  • Bienvenida a Spanish.SE!
    – fede s.
    Mar 23 '16 at 22:57
  • I agree with Fede answer. I would like to add a comment about the difference between "¿Qué quiere ser?" and "¿Qué quieres ser?". As Fede said, "¿Qué quieres ser?" sounds better and this is because this is the second person (singular) while "¿Qué quiere ser?" denotes a more formal approach because it refers to "Usted" Also, note that this is how we use it in Spain. [In some other countries](blog.esl-languages.com/blog/destinations-worldwide/… Mar 24 '16 at 8:28
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"¿Qué quieres ser?" sounds better to me.

"¿Qué querrás ser?" means the desire is in the future. Put it another way, it would be closer to "What will you want to become in the future?", than to "What do you want now to become in the future?"

When talking to kids, in my country the usual expression is:

"¿Qué vas a ser [cuando seas grande/mayor]1?" => "What are you going to be [when you're older]?" (part in square brackets optional).

Depending on context you might also use some other expressions:

"¿Qué carrera vas a hacer/estudiar/seguir?" => explicitly ask for the career

"¿Qué te gustaría estudiar/hacer/ser? => "What would you like to ...?"

[1]: The choice of "grande" or "mayor" is regional specific. "Grande" usually preferred in Latin America, and "mayor" usually preferred in Spain. (See comments)

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    In Spain, grande only refers to size, not to age. To refer to age we say mayor. ¿Qué vas a ser cuando seas mayor? and ¿qué quieres ser de mayor? are things you usually hear on this side of the pond. I think if you added that you would make your answer more dialect-friendly.
    – Yay
    Mar 23 '16 at 23:11
  • Great! But now it's the other way around. Grande is used in Latin America and is probably what most speakers say. It's not about choosing one or the other, but about giving both translations and specifying where each of them is used so that the OP can choose the most appropriate one depending on what country they are in.
    – Yay
    Mar 23 '16 at 23:25
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    @Yay yeah, i see your point... Edited again, feel free to change it if you see a better way to put it :)
    – fede s.
    Mar 23 '16 at 23:33
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As a native Spanish speaker, ¿Qué quiere(s) ser? sounds better.
The future forms of the verb querer are used but not often.

However, I've seen querrá used in other type of questions when a dialogue is involved:

— Hola, busco a Ana.
— Ana, te buscan.
— ¿Quién es?
— José.
— Estoy algo ocupada. ¿Qué querrá?

As a child, I was always asked the question as ¿Qué quieres ser cuando grande?
But never was I asked something like ¿Qué querrás ser cuando grande?

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  • If I'm not mistaken, "querrá", in "¿Qué querrá?" is not indicative future tense, but subjunctive future tense.
    – fede s.
    Mar 24 '16 at 17:59
  • @fedes. You are mistaken. The subjunctive in that case is quisiere.
    – Alejandro
    Mar 24 '16 at 18:04
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    Of course, you are right. Have a +1 then!
    – fede s.
    Mar 24 '16 at 18:22

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