I'd like you to meet my parent (object or subject)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by i_have_doubts, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. i_have_doubts Member

    Hi, i'm trying to understand the semantics/logic of this sentence which is blowing my mind:
    "I would like you to meet my parent"
    I know "you" in that phrase is acting as object instead of subject but i don't understand why. However i would understand it if was something like "I would like you met my parent", but this doesn't make sense in English and i don't know why neither.

    I know the translation ("Me gustaría que conocieras a mi padre") and this is like i understand it in Spanish:
    "Me gustas TÚ para conocer a mi padre"
    But it isn't correct, it doesn't make sense completely. It's like "I like YOU" and therefore "you are ready/you can" to meet my parent but in Spanish is like "I like the FACT itself of you met my parent" .Regardeless if i like you or not.

    I think my misunderstanding is also related to sentences like:
    "Do you want me to go with you?"
    Here it's like "You want me" in order to "i go with you". But once again in Spanish it refers to the wish that going with you.

    Would it make sense if i say "I would like you to explain this to me"??
    If so..
    I would like somebody to explain this to me. What am i misunderstanding? :) Thanks in advance.
  2. chamyto

    chamyto Senior Member

    Burgos, Spain
    Hola, excluyendo el gerundio en like, esos verbos rigen infinitivo con "to" en afirmativa/negativa. Ahora, hay que extrapolarlo a la interrogativa y nos quedan esos ejemplos.
  3. i_have_doubts Member

    Thanks for your answer Chamyto. I suppose I'll have to follow that rule.In spite of that, i would like a linguistic explanation.
  4. Peterdg

    Peterdg Senior Member

    Dutch - Belgium
    This is difficult to explain, but let me try.

    First, don't use "gustar" for the English "to like" when you want to compare syntactical structures. "Gustar" and "to like" work in a different way: their subjects are different. If you want to compare structures, use "desear" in Spanish to compare with the English "to like".

    Anyway, that won't help to solve your problem.

    But there are structures in Spanish that are comparable with the English structure. For example: "Permitió a su madre a visitarlo" o "Dejaron al niño dormir en la cama grande". (Both sentences are taken from "El subjuntivo, valores y usos" de J.Borrego, J.G.Ascensio y E.Prieto). In these sentences, the direct object of the first verb functions as the subject of the second verb, which goes in the infinitive. That's comparable to what happens in the English sentence: "I would like you to meet my parent".

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  5. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    It might help you to know that we can insert "for" into sentences with "like."

    I would like for you to meet my parents.

    Both versions sound equally natural, and both are correct, although the shorter form is probably more common.

    I can see how this construction would be confusing to a Spanish speaker, so I guess you'll just have to get used to it, as it is very common in English.

    Grammatically, we can also say "I would like it if you met my parents," which maps fairly closely to the Spanish (literally, Me gustaría si conocieras a mis padres), but this construction is not used often.
  6. i_have_doubts Member

    Nice answers of Gengo and Peter. Thanks you so much both answers are very helpful. I'll have to get used to this expression.
  7. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    Solo para añadir:
    Si quieres decir 'Me gustaría que conocieras a mi padre', es father y no parent.
    '.......conocieras a mis padres' sería 'my parents.

    'I would like for you to meet.....' suena raro en BrE (pero ayuda a entender la construcción de la frase).
  8. levmac

    levmac Senior Member

    if you want the name of the structure, it is accusative and infinitive. It exists in Spanish and Latin too. Examples here.


    Another way to think about it as a learner - it's nice that the order doesn't change!

    I want you. - I want you to go. = Te quiero. Quiero que [te] vayas.

    I want to go. - I want you to go. = Quiero ir. Quiero que [te] vayas.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  9. k-in-sc

    k-in-sc Senior Member

    Yes, you would say "I would like you to meet my parent" only if you weren't sure if it was your mother or your father :D
  10. i_have_doubts Member

    Thank you very useful. :)

    Nice answer! ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2014
  11. SevenDays Senior Member

  12. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member


    The structure you're referring to has often been called "accusative + infinitive", borrowing the label from Latin, where it was common (e.g. "Volo te studere" = I want you to study), but this is not the point: I don't think we should describe the workings of a language with the criteria and tools used to investigate another. This is not to deny, though, that comparative/contrastive studies can and do shed light on many aspects of languages and language.

    In the case under discussion, I believe we should make the effort of looking at the structure with a new pair of theoretical spectacles.
    The person who says "I want* you to meet my parents" has one thing in mind: That the relation between YOU and MEET MY PARENTS takes place.
    In other words, what the speaker WANTS is for this relationship to occur. This makes <YOU to** MEET MY PARENTS> the real OBJECT of the verb of volition -- not just YOU; not just MEET MY PARENTS, but the sum of the two.

    At this point, we become aware that even a "simple" sentence like "I want to meet your parents" is just a sub-case of the structure examined above:
    what I WANT is <I to meet your parents>, which becomes the final sentence "I want to meet your parents" (via "I want < I/me to meet your parents>)

    *I used "want" instead of "would like" for the sake of simplicity.
    ** The way I see it, TO is not part of the infinitive of "meet", but rather an operator inserted by the speaker to show a kind of virtual "directionality" from element A to element B.

    GS :)
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  13. i_have_doubts Member

    Awesome answers! thanks a lot. :)

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