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What's the difference between:

I want it

I want to have it

And what is the reason?

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3 Answers 3

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There is a slight difference between the two. So little that both can be used in place of each other without changing the actual meaning of the sentence. 'want to have it" is a stronger urge to get something than 'want it'.

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  • This is the opposite of what I thought. Now I'm confused.
    – Ringo
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 15:51
  • It's true, there is a movie called "She's Got to Have It," which means she has a very strong urge. But that is a slang expression that's different from the example in my answer. In my example and probably some others, "want to have [noun]" is less emphatic than "want [noun]."
    – Ringo
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 16:24
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There isn't much difference, as far as I can tell. There might be more immediacy and emphasis to want than want to have. For example:

He wants sex.

He wants to have sex.

People might disagree, but I think he wants sex could connote a stronger or more spontaneous urge than he wants to have sex, which connotes a more deliberate or more formalized or less immediate action.

EDIT: Adding some more examples just so people can draw conclusions for themselves:

I want the kidney transplant.

I want to have the kidney transplant.

The CEO wanted the Ferrari.

The CEO wanted to have the Ferrari.

The dog wants a kiss.

The dog wants to have a kiss.

We wanted a World Series championship.

We wanted to have a World Series championship.

Looking at these examples, I still believe wants to have implies a more deliberate or more formalized action. The desire in wants is perhaps more ephemeral or spontaneous.

For example, it's a tiny bit awkward to say The dog wants to have a kiss because it implies that the dog is thinking about it and has made a conscious decision that he would like you to kiss him. We know dogs don't reason in this way, so it's a little humorous to say a dog wants to have a kiss. Instead, we would say, "The dog wants a kiss." It's a simple, spontaneous desire.

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  • The example is awesome Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 8:44
  • Haha, yeah, I just wanted something simple to understand but not boring.
    – Ringo
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 15:49
  • @haruto I edited my answer again, i added an explanation of the dog example at the very bottom. Maybe this can clarify things a little
    – Ringo
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 17:46
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Cheers Ringo for great examples and sound reasoning. I wasn't sure but you have me sold. Rereading this I get a feeling that "to have" has a slightly different feel to it, using the Ferrari example (as an example), "I want to have" says something about continued possession of the Ferrari but I'm just sleep deprived and also really bad at both speaking and comprehending the English language and you obviously are not.

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  • Yes, I think you're right. When the CEO goes to the dealership, he wants the Ferrari (spontaneous desire). And he wants to have the Ferrari to impress his many girlfriends (continuous desire).
    – Ringo
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 5:31

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