‘He wants that I do’ vs. ‘he wants me to do” in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

If you want to express that someone wants “that someone else does something”, the idiomatic way to do that in English is using the phrase “to want someone to do something”. For example:

He wants me to go to his birthday party. (correct)
He wants that I go to his birthday party. (unnatural)
I don’t want her to know about it. (correct)
I don’t want that she know(s) about it. (unnatural)

Even though the latter expressions make sense grammatically (the form used is the so called subjunctive mood, e.g. “that she know”), they don’t sound natural, perhaps because the present subjunctive is quite rare in modern English. The same construction is used also in negative sentences:

Don’t you want me to come? (correct)
Don’t you want that I come? (unnatural)

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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