sobota, 25 lutego 2012

We want him to ...

Here's an example where English uses a different grammar structure than we might expect.

Most Polish students tend to say something like this:

We want that he doesn't give us homework.

This is a translation of Polish grammar, and it seems to make sense.  How else would we say it?  Unfortunately, it's not correct. The structure we use in English goes like this:

We don't want him to give us homework.
We want him not to give us homework.

When we speak in English about our wants, desires and intentions for other people, we use the form

I want, you want, he wants, etc. + object pronoun (i.e., me, you, him, her, it, us, themor noun + infintive verb

So we can say any of the following:

I want her to marry me.
She wants me to leave her alone.

They want their elder son to set a good example for his siblings.
He wants them to let him live his own life.

We want you to go to university and get a good education.
You want us to stop interfering with your decisions.

Negatives can be made either by changing I want, etc. to I don't want, or by adding the word not before the infinitive verb.

We don't want you to drop out of school.
We want you not to drop out of school.

The first structure is a bit less awkward, but sometimes we need to use the second.  Very often, though, instead of using a negative version of this structure, we prefer to use a different structure:

We'd prefer you didn't drop out of school.