I've found sentences like these:
1. I don't want them bringing their children to see me.
2. She lost track of him, found him somehow, and then she didn't want me making any more enquires.
3. I don't want you all coming here for food.
4. I don't want everybody knowing you've got a broomstick.
5. I don't want you coming home so late.

All the examples show the pattern 'not want someone doing something...'
I've been trying to figure out what if 'to do something' is used instead of 'doing something.'

As far as I know, '(don't) want someone to do something' is most preferred,
but it would seem that 'don't want someone doing something' is gaining its own ground.
I've been looking for a plausible explanation, but I haven't.

The question is, what's the difference between the two options?
Is there any difference in nuance?

  • 1
    I like this question. It's been puzzling me since I read it. The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is that in some of your examples the nuance would be different. No. 5 for example "I don't want you coming home so late" (currently happens) i.e. "Stop coming home so late" versus "I don't want you to come home so late" i.e. "That new job would mean you come home very late, and I don't like that idea" (referring to the future). However, I can't really make that stick for all your examples.
    – JMB
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 14:00
  • Thanks. :) I've been thinking the same thing. Number 5 puzzles me a lot. I got surprised at this when I was reading Harry Potter.
    – daemang
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


This is a rather authoritative way of stating categorically that you don't want something to happen generally or habitually, instead of just one time. The key is the progressive - which makes the prohibition somewhat habitual, as if thwarting the onset of a habit or tendency you want no part of.

For example, in the last example, the speaker could be talking to his son, who just got a car and has been home late a few times. Or a daughter that has started dating. Saying just "I don't want you to come home late" could be used for one occasion = tonight, after the prom, etc.

Having said that, the same father could say "I don't want you coming home late" in reference to one occasion, and it is merely a very authoritative restriction, and still carries a meaning of "tonight or any other night."

In (1) and (3) the speaker doesn't want these to become a regular thing; In (2) the speaker wants him to cease ALL inquiries - "stop asking around!" In (4) the speaker doesn't want the fact that the listener has a broomstick to become common knowledge.

  • Thank you, CocoPop. :) I should remember the ING often implies generality. And I'm waiting for others' opinions. Thanks again.
    – daemang
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 14:32

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