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I'm very confused about this sentence. Can anyone explain it to me in detail?

I don't want to know how you did it.

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    What is the sentence? Do you mean "I don't want to know how you did it" is the sentence that confused you? – Damkerng T. Apr 24 '15 at 11:57
  • yes.not the sentence meaning but i am confused with parts of speech of this sentence@DamkerngT. – Karanam Vishnu Vardhan Apr 26 '15 at 3:25
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Grammar

The Subject of the sentence is the pronoun "I". The Predicate is:

  • don't want to know how you did it.

The Head of the verb phrase is the word don't, which is contraction of the dummy auxiliary verb do and the negative particle not. This takes as its Complement the verb phrase:

  • want to know how you do it.

The Head of this verb phrase is the verb want. The word want takes as its Complement the infinitival clause:

  • to know how you did it.

The Head of his phrase, depending on your grammar, is probably the verb know (some writers would argue the Head is the word to). The word to in this case is a subordinator which marks know how you did it as subordinate. The verb know takes as its Complement the interrogative finite clause:

  • how you did it.

The Subject of this clause is the pronoun you. The Head of the clause is the verb did. The Direct Object is the pronoun it. The clause has an Adjunct, the interrogative adverb how, which has been fronted to the beginning of the clause.

The verb want is a control verb. This means that if there is no expressed Subject of the following infinitive clause, we understand the Subject of want to be the Subject of the following infinitive. So the sentence can be interpreted like this:

  • I don't want [ (me) to know how you did it ].

Meaning

Suppose the listener has done something. Maybe they stole some jewels from a museum and nobody caught them. To do something like this, the listener would need to use some kind of plan or method. This is what is expressed by:

  • how you did it.

The word how refers to the method used. The speaker is telling the listener "I do not want to know the method!". Of course we don't know what the listener actually did. It might be something quite boring.

| improve this answer | |
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In place of the contraction "don't", I'll use the expansion "do not".

I -- first-person singular subjective pronoun; subject of "do want"
do -- auxiliary; part of the verb "do want"
not -- adverb, modifies "do want"
want -- verb, transitive, present tense, indefinite aspect, active voice, indicative mode
to know -- infinitive; begins the phrase that is the direct object of "do want"
how -- subordinating conjunction; begins the clause that is the direct object of "to know"
you -- second-person subjective pronoun; subject of "did"
did -- verb, transitive, past tense, indefinite aspect, active voice, indicative mode
it -- third-person neuter singular objective pronoun; direct object of "did"

Another way to label the word "how" is as a conjunctive adverb.

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  • "want -- verb, transitive, present tense, indefinite aspect, active voice, indicative mode" <== Er, is "want" really in present tense? – F.E. Apr 27 '15 at 22:18
  • You could sensibly argue that "do" marks the tense and "want" has no tense at all. I often do. However, the listed properties (including present tense) belong to the complete verb, and for that reason listing them with the main verb makes sense. – Gary Botnovcan Apr 27 '15 at 22:26

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