Why is the sentence "I don't want you worrying about the oral interview" correct? Is the syntax want+gerund correct?

Shouldn't it be

I don't want you to worry about the oral interview (?)

(taken from a test book)

  • Why do you think it should be the other way? – Matt E. Эллен Nov 20 '14 at 11:13
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    My question is whether this combination is correct. I cannot think of a way to make it clearer. – Maria Nov 20 '14 at 12:02
  • @MattЭллен it's the rule of infinitive vs. gerund following certain verbs. I.e. want precedes the infinitive, should precedes the bare infinitive, and don't mind precedes the -ing form (gerund). It's a valid question! – Mari-Lou A Nov 20 '14 at 12:53
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    The reason you think it is incorrect is that in the construction "I don't want to do my homework", you cannot change the verb to get "I don't want doing my homework". So if somebody said want cannot be followed by a gerund, they were partially correct. However, what you are asking about is a different construction, which is grammatically composed of quite different elements. So the sentence you're asking about is fine. – Peter Shor Nov 20 '14 at 13:36

"I don't want you worrying about the oral interview."

That sentence is fine. Huddleston & Pullum (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002.12311-2) note that "the gerund-participial with want generally has a progressive interpretation, but in non-affirmative contexts it can be non-progressive". They say that I want them standing when the Minister enters is equivalent to I want them to be standing when the Minister enters, contrasting with non-progressive I want them to stand when the Minister enters. However, in I don't want you bringing your dog with you, the meaning is to bring, not to be bringing.

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  • So I see there is no difference in meaning between this two - I want you bringing your dog with you and I want you to bring your dog with you. And I think both are correct. – Man_From_India Nov 20 '14 at 14:59
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    @Man_From_India. H & P suggest there is no difference in the non-affirmative forms. There is a difference in the affirmative forms. I want you bringing your dog is equivalent to I want you to be bringing your dog. I can't think of a context in which this would sound natural. – tunny Nov 20 '14 at 15:11

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