You don't want to do it = Don't do it! ??

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Wookie

Senior Member
Korea, Korean
You don't(might not) want to do that = Don't do that.
Do you want to hand that saltshaker to me? = Hand that saltshaker to me.

Those are what I figured. Am I right?

I want to know why people use "want to" when they make someone do something for them.
 
  • nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    You don't(might not) want to do that = Don't do that.
    Do you want to hand that saltshaker to me? = Hand that saltshaker to me.

    Those are what I figured. Am I right?

    I want to know why people use "want to" when they make someone do something for them.
    You don't/might not want to do that.--Don't say I didn't warn you.

    Do you want to hand that saltshaker to me (or not?)--Are you going to do it or what? (if you don't, there will be hell to pay)
     

    Avignonais

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, Anglophone
    With "You might not want to do that", the speaker places himself as an outsider, and as this outsider he warns the other person that if he did something, there would be consequences. By reducing himself to someone who just gives advice, he has left the listener alone with his choices and with their consequences.

    This gets overused in movies, when the speaker may be holding a gun when he gives this piece of advice to someone about to do something, like about to make a run for it. Obviously, the speaker has everything to do with the consequences. But phrasing it like this is supposed to be cool, hip, all-about-personal-choice. When it reality it may not be.

    Hope this is understandable.
     

    Flash3

    Senior Member
    United States and American English
    Actually, I'd say the second pair of phrases are very similar in tone. "Do you want to hand that saltshaker to me" sounds very belligerent to me in any context.
     
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