Article published in:The Dynamics of Linguistic Variation: Corpus evidence on English past and present
Edited by Terttu Nevalainen, Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta and Minna Korhonen
[Studies in Language Variation 2] 2008
► pp. 85–97
Pressing -ing into service: I don't want you coming around here any more
In this paper we focus on a common construction which has received relatively little attention to date in the literature, namely, want [NP Ving] as in I don’t want you coming around here anymore. Recent British newspaper corpora suggest that this construction is becoming increasingly popular among speakers. Although it occurs in affirmatives and interrogatives, it is most frequently encountered in negative utterances which perform imperative, proclamatory, and exhortatory functions. One reason for this, we maintain, is that the -ing complement, by virtue of its semantics, is felt by speakers to be more forceful and, accordingly, more appropriate to such utterances than an infinitive complement would be. Whereas the infinitive to tends to temporally distance the activity of the verb from the present, the ‑ing reifies the activity of the matrix verb as something ongoing, i.e., in process, thereby rendering it both vivid and immediate. Thus, the construction want [NP Ving] can be regarded as a handy device for speakers to brighten up and strengthen utterances, especially when they want them “to stick”.
Published online: 03 December 2008