Using want

Infinitive with to

After want, we normally use an infinitive with to.

  • I want to go. (NOT I want go.) (NOT I want going.)
  • I want to come back here again.
  • She wants to be a pilot.

Want cannot be followed by that-clauses, but we can use an object + infinitive structure.

  • I want him to go now.
  • Do you want me to make you some tea? (NOT Do you want that I make you some coffee?)
  • I don’t want him to come here again.
  • I want you to be my queen.

Want can be followed by an object + complement.

  • We want him dead or alive.
  • I want him back.
  • I want the job finished by Tuesday.

When the object complement is a noun, we use to be or as before it.

  • I want you to be my girlfriend.
  • OR I want you as my girlfriend.

In British English, want can mean ‘need’. In this case, it can be followed by an –ing form.

  • Your hair wants cutting. (= Your hair needs to be cut.)
  • That carpet wants a clean. (= That carpet needs to be cleaned.)

Note that we do not use want in polite offers or requests.

  • Would you like some help? (NOT Would you want some help?)