I want you to understand what I said.

What does this sentence mean?

  1. It's what I want that you understand what I said. (Referring to the present)

  2. It's what I want that you will understand what I said. (Referring to the future)

  3. Either 1 or 2 according to context.

I think the sentence means 1 or 2 according to context.

If the sentence is written to describe your present understanding about what I said, I think option 1 is correct.

(And I know sentence 1 and 2 are ungrammatical because "want" does not normally take a clause as an object, but I couldn't figure out better sentences, so I reluctantly wrote the sentences to ask this question, but I guess native speakers will easily understand what the sentence means.)

1 Answer 1


Your sentence 2 could be correct, but only in unusual contexts. It almost implies foreknowledge of an event that will bring greater understanding.

Almost always your sentence 1 is more correct. The person saying it is implying "I don't think you understood the thing I just told you." The original quote might be followed by a demand to think harder about what needs to be understood. It might also be followed by a restatement of the information.

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