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I want it back.

Semantically, it is not the direct object of the verb want but syntactically it is.

Then, is this a raising construction even though it doesn't have any subordinate clause?

  • Why do you think it is not a direct object -- removing back doesn't change the semantics anymore than removing again in "I want it again". – amI Apr 21 at 3:15
  • @amI Well, maybe you're right. But that's just coincidental, I think. How about this example then? I want it back to how it used to be. Is it still a direct object? And I even think that I want it back can mean I want it back to how it used to be in appropriate context. – JK2 Apr 21 at 3:55
  • If you think that eliding 'to be' is permitted in raising-to-object, then yes, "I want it [to be] back" would qualify (but 'back' cannot be a verb here, as in "I saw him back into the mailbox") -- and your 'back' could just as well be called an object complement. – amI Apr 21 at 4:12
  • @amI But I want it back does not mean "I want it to be back" when you're asking someone to return it. Regarding calling it an object complement, are you saying that She made me upset is a raising construction? – JK2 Apr 21 at 5:15
  • No to the last -- "She made me upset the jar" is raising, but "She made me upset" is object complement (although the differing terms are due to separate approaches -- the deep destinations are not so different). When you ask for something back, you are indeed merely stating that you want it to be back. That you are asking for it to be returned by someone is just how reality works, when you don't expect it to come back on its own. – amI Apr 21 at 5:25

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