1. She doesn't like it if I tell other people about it.

This is a sentence I am writing. This version above sounds the best to my ear.

  1. She doesn't like if I tell other people about it.

Without the "it" this sentence doesn't seem to work, does it?

  1. She doesn't like it that I tell other people about it.
  2. She doesn't like that I tell other people about it.
  3. She doesn't like I tell other people about it.

The meaning changes with these variations to carry the connotation that "I tell other people about it" is a fact, right? Do they work syntactically? And idiomatically?

  1. She doesn't like it when I tell other people about it.
  2. She doesn't like when I tell other people about it.

The meaning seems to change a little with this version too, but it sounds fine to me. So which ones are grammatical? And as an English sentence construction question, more generally what kinds of clauses can I use in situations like this?

  • You've asked a lot of questions but haven't demonstrated much research. What did you do to try to answer these questions yourself? (Did you look at ESL websites, grammar books, prior ELL questions, etc.? What did they say?) Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 4:39
  • @MarcInManhattan why do so many on this site do that? One could literally answer the question in less time than it takes to gripe about lack of displayed research, or "possible remotely-tangential duplicate." It's safe to assume most who come here do so from a search. Remarkably, all those duplicates rarely attend alongside the result that brought them here. Let's face it: asking how much research they've done into a topic they may be struggling to qualify or define is like telling someone to look up the spelling of a word in a dictionary. LOTTA poor sods still searching for "fone" out there.
    – NerdyDeeds
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 4:45
  • 1
    Sorry, I hadn't realized I was being ambiguous. To be clear, I read the "How do I ask a good question" link you provided; it's reasonable and fair advice... for most of the network. If I'm asking how to "floss a carburetor," clearly having failed to do even cursory research as to what one IS, that benefits nobody. But my counterargument remains reasonable in the case of THIS substack. How can you expect a non-native speaker to necessarily be CAPABLE of looking up an answer to a question as nebulous and complex as "why does this sound wrong to me?" English isn't precisely kind in that regard.
    – NerdyDeeds
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 5:27
  • 1
    They mean the same thing. The use of "like" without a complement is heard in AmE, but rarely in BrE. Clauses don't function as objects, so you can't say that "like" is transitive unless it has an NP complement. Keep the "it"!
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 10:01
  • 1
    "It" is object of the verb and thus a complement. The clause is also a complement of the verb, but not an object.
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


The challenge here is the mixture of definitives. "She doesn't like it" is a phrase in the present tense ("She isn't hungry", "He's not driving") being combined with either:

  • "If I tell someone about it" - a speculative, possible future tense (syntactically synonymous with "if I were to tell someone about it"). Contrast with: "She wouldn't like it if I tell/told someone about it."

  • "That I tell someone about it" - a mixture of past and future or past and present ("She doesn't like that I will tell someone about it," "she doesn't like that I told someone about it"). Contrast with, "She doesn't like the fact that I will tell/that I told someone about it"

  • "When I tell someone about it" - present, active tense ("she doesn't like it when I'm telling people about it", "she doesn't like it when I tell I people about it") Contrast with, "She doesn't like when I go around telling people about it"

...but yes, they do carry subtly different meanings, mostly surrounding whether or not you have already violated her trust, are likely going to, or have a tendency/predilection towards doing so.

"She doesn't like my telling others about it" or "she doesn't like me telling others about it" are probably the closest grammatically-correct phrasings of the original.

Truthfully, the sentence is difficult because it's weak from a literary standpoint. Compare with "She hates it when I spill the beans to others about it," "She can't stand it if I let slip to anyone else what happened," or "she'd be positively livid if I let on (informal)/if I revealed (formal) what took place."

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