German Grammar Explained /

Would like (to have)

If you have ever visited a German speaking country, you might have encountered this situation at some point:
Waiter: Möchten Sie etwas essen? Would you like to eat something?
Customer: Ja, ich hätte gern die Spaghetti Bolognese. Yes, I would like to have the Spaghetti Bolognese.
Waiter: Möchten Sie etwas trinken? Would you like to drink something?
Customer: Ja, ich möchte gern ein Glas Wein.
Yes, I would like a glass of wine.
If you want to ask for things politely in German, maybe when ordering at a restaurant or offering a new friend a cup of tea, you are going to need a couple of frequently used phrases:
1. Ich hätte gern ein Glas Wasser.
I would like (to have) a glass of water.
2. Ich möchte (gern) ein Glas Wasser.
I would like a glass of water.
3. Ein Glas Wasser, bitte.
A glass of water, please.
4. Ein Glas Wasser.
A glass of water.
From one to four: One is very polite, four is the one you shouldn't really use ;)
And don't forget to conjugate the verbs!
Ich hätte gern.. Du hättest gern... Er/Sie/Es hätte gern... Wir hätten gern... Ihr hättet gern... Sie hätten gern...
ein Glass Rotwein.
Ich möchte (gern)... Du möchtest (gern)... Er/Sie/Es möchte (gern)... Wir möchten (gern)... Ihr möchtet (gern)... Sie möchten (gern)...
eine Cola.
Note the use of gern is optional with möchte, but it is not with hätte. If you want to know why, check out the grammar section below.
Jakob, möchtest du etwas trinken?
Ja, gern.
Was hättest du gern?
Mmh, hast du Schwarztee?
Ja, klar.
Grammar for Nerds:
Perhaps you have noticed that hätte and habe are similar in meaning and in form. This is because hätte derives from the verb haben. We call this type of conjugation (or mode) "Konjunktiv 2" and we use it for hypothetical scenarios.
I don't have a bike, but if I had one,... Ich habe kein Fahrrad, aber wenn ich eins hätte,...
That's why this form is so polite, because we humbly imply "well, hypothetically, if you don't mind, if it's possible for you,..."
And because hätte alone means "I would have/(if) I had", we cannot use it without gern to make polite requests, only for if-sentences.