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..


2 Answers 2


"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.


  • 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.


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]

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