I ran into this in the novel The Old Man and the Sea,

“I do not like for him to waken me. It is as though I were inferior.”

What has happened in the first sentence "I do not like for him to waken me"? The structure seems unfamiliar to me. Is it normal for instance to say, "I don't like for you to leave the country"? It seems unnatural. I normally would say, "I don't like you to leave the country" or "I don't like him to wake me up".

Links for my further studying would be appreciated.

1 Answer 1


The sentence "I do not like for him to waken me," is indeed rather uncommon, but it is perfectly possible, especially in American English.

According to Swan's Practical English Usage, 291 infinitives (13): for ... to ...

291.7 after verbs: ask for ... to ...
For-structures are not normally used as objects after verbs.
However, verbs which are normally followed by for (e.g. ask, hope, wait, look, pay, arrange) can often be used with for + object + infinitive.
A few other verbs can be used like this, e.g. suit and take (time).
In informal American English, like, hate, mean, intend and some other verbs with similar meanings can be used with a for-structure. This is not usually possible in British English.
I would like for you to stay as long as you want.
She hates for people to feel sad.
Did you mean for John to mail those letters?

  • Thanks a lot for this useful explanation and introducing a good reference book:) Besides, the edit you made to my question was great and I got some good points.
    – Juya
    Dec 23, 2013 at 9:32
  • Thanks! So is it more common without "for"?
    – Tim
    Dec 29, 2013 at 16:14
  • @Tim In standard modern English, yes. However, I think things like poems and lyrics are exceptions. Dec 29, 2013 at 16:32

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