English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I wanted to tell my friend that he should do something nice today (it's his birthday):

You should do something nice, you do not want to have your birthday ending this way.

I know it is wrong but is there a way how to say it still with the "want to have" in the sentence? Or is the "have" here entirely incorrect?

share|improve this question
What makes you think it's wrong? I can't see anything wrong with it. – Colin Fine Jul 16 '12 at 15:10

I am not too sure about use of commas etc. but is this not a comma splice? I think there is a construction have + inf (w/o "to"). For example, I believe the following is grammatically correct: "I do not like John. I would have him clean the toilets." I think that if you were to change "ending" to "end" it would sound better. That said, "have + participle" is a pretty common construction nowadays as well.

share|improve this answer
No, "have your birthday end" would imply that you are causing it to end badly. "Have your birthday ending" is simply saying you are experiencing it. – Colin Fine Jul 16 '12 at 15:11
@ColinFine I see what you mean. In the example which I gave, it does imply this. However, I do not think that it necessarily carries this implication in all instances. It's a tricky one to decide, as the two are used pretty much interchangeably. – JamesHH Jul 16 '12 at 23:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.