I don't need [this document ] to contain a disclaimer formulated in such a straightforward way.

I want [my words or my assertion] to sound convincing in the meeting tomorrow.

Having done a google search, I came to a conclusion that the above phrasing would be somewhat incorrect.

But I want to make sure of that. Am I right that the structure "want/need somebody to do" does not collocate with inanimate things?

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    You are absolutely not right. I can want that telephone box to leap ten feet in the air. It's not going to happen, of course, because it can't do that. But I can want it nonetheless. – Andrew Leach Mar 1 '15 at 13:55
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    Why shouldn't it? If your statement "Am I right that the structure . . . does not collocate with inanimate things" is permitted, and you seem to use it with a confidence suggesting that it is, why should that "rule" not extend to other inanimate things besides "structure"? – Robusto Mar 1 '15 at 13:55
  • There are a lot of reasons why it might not collocate, in theory; the idea's not silly. But it does collocate, in fact. Want and need (regular, not semi-modal need) both take infinitive complements with A-Equi and B-Raising. "A-Equi" means if there's no NP between want or need and the infinitive, the subject of the infinitive is the same as the subject of want or need. B-Raising means if there is an NP, that NP is the subject of the infinitive instead; and in this case, to contain and to sound are both stative verbs that can take inanimate patient subjects, so no problem. – John Lawler Mar 1 '15 at 15:46
  • Einstein needed the speed of light to be identical both ways relative to the railwaytrack, but not the train, for this example to work. In fact, all humanity (and probably everything) "needs" most universal constants and laws to be pretty much exactly what they are, or nothing could exist in the first place. OP is just getting confused because "I want you to do X" implies "I urge you to do X", but we can't "urge" inanimate "objects" like the speed of light to do anything. – FumbleFingers Mar 1 '15 at 16:05

They are both perfectly grammatical and intelligible. You can "want" (or not want) or "need" (or not need) anything to happen, regardless whether a person is involved in causing it.

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