How to say "to be looking forward" with tener ganas and estar deseando

To express "to be looking forward" to doing something we can use different constructions in Spanish, but the most common ones are:

Tener [muchas] ganas de + infinitive

This is used to express either what you "feel like doing" or that you "are looking forward to something". Remember not to omit the "de".

Let's see some examples:

Tengo ganas de comer calamares.I feel like eating squid.

Tengo ganas de ver a Luisa. La última vez fue hace dos años.I look forward to/I feel like seeing Luisa. The last time was two years ago.

Tengo muchas ganas de empezar el nuevo curso.I am really looking forward to starting the new course.

Ahora mismo tengo muchas ganas de comerme un helado de chocolate.Right now I really feel like having a chocolate ice cream.

The context will make it clear which meaning applies.

The same can be expressed with another construction:

 Estar deseando + infinitive

Estar deseando conveys a higher level of "wish"; therefore, it is normally translated as "to be looking forward to doing something" or "to not able to wait to do something", more than simply "to feel like doing something."

Here are some examples:

Estamos deseando llegar al hotel y meternos en la piscina.We are looking forward to arriving at the hotel and getting in the pool.

Estaba deseando conocer a ese chico.I was looking forward to meeting that guy.

Estabas deseando tomarte una cerveza fría, ¿verdad?You were looking forward to having a cold beer, weren't you?

To convey this meaning you really need to use the verb desear as it doesn't work the same way with a synonym like querer. For example:

"Estoy queriendo ver a mi marido." (incorrect)

"Estoy deseando ver a mi marido." (correct)

(I am looking forward to seeing my husband.)

Remember:

Tener ganas de + infinitive

Estar deseando + infinitive 

To feel like [doing something] / To be looking forward to [doing something]

Literal translations from English to Spanish don't work. In this context, do not use this type of construction in the English way:

"Estoy mirando a..." (I am looking forward to...)

"No puedo esperar a..." (I can't wait to...)

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Examples and resources

Tengo muchas ganas de empezar el nuevo curso.I am really looking forward to starting the new course.
Tengo ganas de ver a Luisa. La última vez fue hace dos años.I look forward to/I feel like seeing Luisa. The last time was two years ago.
Estamos deseando llegar al hotel y meternos en la piscina.We are looking forward to arriving at the hotel and getting in the pool.
Estabas deseando tomarte una cerveza fría, ¿verdad?You were looking forward to having a cold beer, weren't you?
Tengo ganas de comer calamares.I feel like eating squid.
Estaba deseando conocer a ese chico.I was looking forward to meeting that guy.
Ahora mismo tengo muchas ganas de comerme un helado de chocolate.Right now I really feel like having a chocolate ice cream.
Clever stuff underway!