What does the following sentence mean?

All I want is for you to be happy.

Does that mean that the speaker wants to be happy for someone or that the speaker wants that person to be happy not him?

2 Answers 2


It means exactly the same as

All I want is that you are/will be/could be/might be happy.

except that it is not specific about which of those verbs apply. Using the "that" form would require a verb, which would require choosing a tense or modal. That choice would say something about (for example) how likely it was that the other person would ever be happy.

Using the "for" phrase requires an infinitive (tenseless) verb, so does not require the speaker to specify that.

  • If I put this way "All I want for you is to be happy, would it be the same as "all I want is for you to be happy"? Mar 3, 2018 at 12:38
  • In practice, they're probably the same. But there could be differences. The first one could have a rider like "but what I want for the rest of the family is [something else]", while logically that wouldn't make sense with the second one.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 4, 2018 at 22:01

Compare it to this famous line from a song:

All I want for Christmas is you.

In your sentence the word order is a bit strange to me.

All I want for you is to be happy.

But nonetheless, I don't think it changes the meaning.

If the speaker wanted to be happy about somebody, the preposition would be a different one.

  • Here is what the Longman dictionary says: "if you are happy for someone when something good has happened to them." That is why I am confused by whether speaker wants to be happy for the person or wants the person to be happy Mar 3, 2018 at 10:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .