"want my son engaging" vs."want my son to engage"

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nagomi

Senior Member
Korean
"Obviously, I don't want my son engaging in fighting or resorting to violence. However, I am torn as to whether I should intervene. I have talked to Miles about how friends should treat each other. With that in mind, he ought to be able to say "stop" when someone gets too rough."

How is "want my son engaging" different from "want my son to engage"?

source: NIE times
 
  • Bondstreet

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    In this sentence they would mean the same.

    I wouldn't use "engage" here. I would say something like:

    "I don't want my son to get involved in/with fighting...
    .
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I wouldn't talk about 'engaging in fighting' or 'resorting to violence' either, especially when discussing a five-year old who's apparently being bullied and physically battered by neighbourhood kids. The language just isn't suitable for the circumstances; it's too formal. (I wondered if the letter was genuine.)

    I forgot to mention that the writer is presumably American. I've noticed a marked tendency to use over-formal language, as it seems to me. It's an advice column not a law court.
     
    Last edited:

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I wouldn't talk about 'engaging in fighting' or 'resorting to violence' either, especially when discussing a five-year old who's apparently being bullied and physically battered by neighbourhood kids. The language just isn't suitable for the circumstances; it's too formal. (I wondered if the letter was genuine.)

    I forgot to mention that the writer is presumably American. I've noticed a marked tendency to use over-formal language, as it seems to me. It's an advice column not a law court.
    Yes, I'm not sure how well known this column is, but it's an advice column as you predicted. But any comment on the difference in nuance?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    How is "want my son engaging" different from "want my son to engage"?
    The only slight nuance I can detect there is that the gerund "engaging" suggests that he's already doing it, but the infinitive "to engage" suggests that he isn't yet but is about to start.
     
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