One of the meanings of want is to lack something

But I am confued regarding its use in a sentence. Which of the following sentence is correct?

He doesn't want courage.

He doesn't want in courage.

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    If by sth you mean something, please spell out the actual word. (I edited your question to make that change.) Commented May 21, 2019 at 4:54

1 Answer 1


The first is probably "correct," but you would not say it. Although "a house" could "want a better roof", a human's desires are also expressed through a different sense of the verb to want, so there's a real ambiguity there: does your subject not desire courage? Or does he simply lack it?

To disambiguate this construction, you would instead say: "He doesn't want for courage", which firmly expresses the lack. Note that depending on the context this construction feels a little formal or literary.

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