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Is there any difference between "To like for somebody/something to be something" vs. "to like somebody/something to be something"?

  1. In the following case there seems to be a difference, because the former seems to suggest that one would like so for the sake of the other, and latter for ones own.

    "I would like for you to be happy" vs. "I would like you to be happy"

  2. Here, the above distinction makes no sense, since the weather is inanimate. Is the former a valid thing to say at all?

    "I would like for the weather to be nice" vs. "I would like the weather to be nice"

3 Answers 3

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After the verb like, and other verbs of preference or intention, an infinitive object complement clause requires a For..To-complementizer on its verb

  • I would like to go, but not
  • *I would like go.

and like optionally allows a For-complementizer to mark the subject of an infinitive complement, if it's different from the subject of like

  • I would like for him to go ~ I would like him to go.

This is all summed up in the formula below, with optional for in parentheses:

  • I would like (for) him to go

Similarly,

  • I intend (for) him to become an engineer.
  • I prefer (for) you not to leave.
  • I want (for) you to go tomorrow.enter link description here

Normally, though, the for part of the For...To infinitive complementizer gets deleted. This is not surprising, because the subject noun phrases of infinitives are often deleted, with their complementizer, of course.

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There is no effective difference in terms of meaning. Both can be used interchangeably, though the first sounds more formal ( this isn't to say it is formal )

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  • Tom is British, so it's obviously not exclusively American, but it's worth saying it's predominantly an American usage. I've never heard "like for" used in British English.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 24, 2012 at 12:09
  • @AndrewLeach You obviously have never been to Wigan then Andrew! Jul 24, 2012 at 12:35
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    No. The English are a nation divided by a common language.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 24, 2012 at 12:40
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To like for has a kind of wish or hope under-meaning to it. In other terms, when you say:

  • I would like for you to be happy.

That obviously means that you would like that person to be happy, but it also implies that you hope/wish for him to be happy.

On the other hand,

  • I would like you to be happy.

Simply means that you would like the fact of that person being happy.

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