2

I started reading Harry Potter and there is a sentence They didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.

I understand the meaning of the sentence, but could someone explain why mixing is used, but not to mix ?

I expected a sentence like that They didn't want Dudley to mix with..

1

"Want to mix" and "want mixing" are two forms of a "double verb construction." (hku.hk) - The second verb can be in a "to-verb," in a "verb-ing" form or just in "verb" form.

Example:

  • He helped to treat him
  • He helped treating him
  • He helped treat him

The forms can be interchangeable, but can have a subtle different meaning. The "to" form emphasizes a result of action and the "-ing" form an action in progress.

2

To want [someone] to do something

To want [someone] doing something

the ing form here would be a gerund referring to the activity.

  • His mother did not want him swimming in the rough sea.
  • My father wanted me studying at university not working for an Internet company.

The to form is more a purpose or end result wished for.

His brother wanted him to find a job. [end result]
His brother wanted him looking for a job. [engaging in the activity]

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.