I've recently used the phrase "xxx would love for yyy to be zzz"; example here, "spammers would really love for this to be possible".

Is this phrasing grammatically correct?

I'm sure I've heard/read it somewhere, and it "feels" good (I'm not a native English speaker, but I know/read/write/speak English at a level where I usually can spot grammatically wrong usage instinctively). But on this I'm not sure, thus I'm asking.

I'm especially concerned about the usage of "love for x to be y" here, and the whole sentence construction.

I know I could have said "spammers would love this to be possible", without "for"; but I want to know, is the form with "for" correct or at least permitted? Or should I avoid it?

1 Answer 1


This construction is a good example of why linguists call the infinitive complementizer
"the for ... to complementizer".

Infinitives are clauses, with subjects and verbs. The Verb Phrase in an infinitive is marked with to. The subject Noun Phrase in an infinitive is frequently missing from the clause, but when it's present, it's often marked with for. The for is normally only required when the infinitive clause is a subject itself; any infinitive subject has to be marked with for to keep it from being taken as the subject. E.g,

  • They want to leave early.
  • They want you to leave early.
  • They want for you to leave early.
  • It would be a mistake to leave early.
  • It would be a mistake for you to leave early.
  • For you to leave early would be a mistake.
  • *You to leave early would be a mistake.

The structure with would love takes a full infinitive object clause, with NP (the second NP in the sentence) and VP, each marked with their respective complementizer:

  • NP₁ would love [ np [ s [ np for NP₂] [ vp to VP] ] ]

The formulation for yyy to be zzz is just one type of infinitive clause, with an auxiliary be and a predicate adjective or noun phrase zzz. Any clause can be made into an infinitive, unless it has a modal auxiliary.

  • 1
    I'd say that 'They want for you to leave early' is heading towards unidiomatic, far less common than 'They want you to leave early'. Raw Google data is 0 : 900 000. Nov 26, 2020 at 17:33

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