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North Korea hates me, and wants me dead.
(Correspondent Report, Aussie ABC)

Does "wants me dead" mean "wants that I’ve already died and not existed"? If the sentence is rewritten as "wants me to die," does it mean "wants me to die at any time from now"?

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Want expresses not a retrospective unreal wish (which would be North Korea wishes I had never lived) nor a remote hope (which would be North Korea wishes I were dead or perhaps North Korea wishes I would die) but a realizable goal—and it implies (though it does not explicitly state) that steps are being taken to realize that intention.

The prosecutor wants the death penalty.
The public want this bill passed.
I want it finished by noon tomorrow.
She wants him stopped.
Don Antonio wants these men eliminated.

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  • Thank you. I've read last night Verbs of retrospection in Downing's book, and get confused. After reading your words, I re-read her book, and found 'want' example: "The boss wants these records updated." just after the verbs of retrospection.
    – Listenever
    Apr 21 '13 at 2:07

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