'I thought I would be a doctor' This is a sentence expressing a past plan, or technically a future-in-past statement. Can I say 'I wanted I would be a doctor' while I would be a doctor is the object of want? Is it grammatically or idiomatically correct?

  • No. Could you explain how you created your example? Maybe you mean "I wished (that) I would be a doctor"? – user3169 Aug 5 '17 at 20:44
  • I wanted to be a doctor already has a future aspect--when you wanted it you hadn't been a doctor yet, you wanted to become a doctor in future. So why explore into something that is clear, IMO? No offense meant whatsoever, just strange that you're trying to put it this seemingly unproductive way. I beg your pardon. At the same time, why not? If you wish to say "I wanted I would be a doctor", say it and you'll be understood. As for the grammar behind it... Well, let's wait and read what high priests say. – Victor B. Aug 5 '17 at 20:44
  • Actually, I know I can say 'I wanted to be a doctor' I was just thinking about these grammar nuisaces while reading some points on future-in-past structures. Is this sentence possible? – Yuri Aug 5 '17 at 20:51
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    Nearly all native speakers avoid complementing want with a finite clause. But you do hear it, especially from speakers of Yiddish, and even from their grandchildren who are perfectly fluent in English. books.google.com/… . See also: books.google.com/… – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 6 '17 at 10:34

I wanted I would be a doctor

is not grammatical. Want does not take finite clauses as complements with any time reference, only marked infinitivals:


I want (that) I will become a doctor or
I wanted (that) I would become a doctor.


I want okto become a doctor or
I wanted okto become a doctor.

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The I wanted I would junction doesn't make sense. You need to put something in between those two in order for the sentence to flow smoothly. The best way is to make the sentence conditional:

If I wanted to, I would be a doctor.

This is a shortened version of the longer sentence

If I wanted to be a doctor, I would be a doctor.

You can also change the tense (completely optional):

Had I wanted to, I would have been a doctor.

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  • "I wanted I would be a doctor" does make sense since the phrase is ultimately understandable, like "I want go to center of town" said by a foreigner to the English-speaking world". Of course, that is ultimately ungrammatical as well, but it's the grammaticality the OP asks about. Read the previous answer where the answerer says why it is NOT grammatical. – Victor B. Aug 5 '17 at 23:05
  • @Rompey I see. When I said that it didn't make sense, I meant from a grammatical standpoint, but I agree with their elaboration. Thanks for the comment. – Kman3 Aug 5 '17 at 23:08

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