Pressing -ing into service: <i>I don't want you coming around here any more</i>

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In this paper we focus on a common construction which has received relatively little attention to date in the literature, namely, <i>want </i>[NP V<i>ing</i>] as in <i>I don’t want you coming around here anymore. </i>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 <i>-ing </i>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 <i>to </i>tends to temporally distance the activity of the verb from the present, the <i>&#8209;ing </i>reifies the activity of the matrix verb as something ongoing, i.e., in process, thereby rendering it both vivid and immediate. Thus, the construction <i>want </i>[NP V<i>ing</i>] can be regarded as a handy device for speakers to brighten up and strengthen utterances, especially when they want them “to stick”.


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