(1) I didn't want Kim mistreating my cat.

(2) I didn't want Kim to mistreat my cat.

Semantically, Kim is not the object of want but the subject of the respective subordinate clauses mistreating my cat and to mistreat my cat in (1) and (2).

Syntactically, is Kim a raised object or the subject of the subordinate clause in (1) and (2)?


If 'Kim' is a raised object in (1), how could you say (3)?

(3) What I didn't want was Kim mistreating my cat.


2 Answers 2


Yes, Kim is a raised object in (2). But it's not in (1) or (3). They all come from similar structures, a main clause I didn't want NP, where the NP is a complement clause with Kim as subject and mistreat my cat as VP.

  • I didn't want [np [s [np Kim] [vp mistreat my cat]]]

but the derivations are independent, largely because of complementizer choice.

To get (2), which uses an infinitive complementizer, Raising is applied, producing a parse like this:

  • I didn't want [np Kim] [vp to mistreat my cat]

which separates the raised object from the infinitive clause, reducing it to a phrase.

But Raising doesn't apply to most gerunds, so in (1) and (3) the gerund complement clause is still a clause and it's still the object of want. In (3), Wh-Cleft applies, inserting the what to introduce the construction and the was as fulcrum of cleavage to separate the cloven constituents.

  • What I didn't want was [np [s [np Kim] [vp mistreating my cat]]]

Note that, while want does govern B-Raising with infinitives, an NP raised to object position of want does not passivize:

  • They wanted Bill to replace the toilet.
  • *Bill was wanted to replace the toilet.

even though most Raising verbs do allow this:

  • They expected Bill to replace the toilet.
  • Bill was expected to replace the toilet.
  • 1
    Isn't (3) some sort of proof that (1) isn't a raising construction?// Please let me know some authoritative source that says "Raising doesn't apply to most gerunds," and those gerunds that are not subsumed under "most gerunds".
    – JK2
    Mar 28, 2020 at 23:41
  • Sorry; I misread (1) as having an infinitive. I should have said (2) and have corrected the answer. I'd say it wasn't a raised object in (1). None of the syntactic tests for Raising work with want + Gerund.
    – jlawler
    Mar 29, 2020 at 16:41
  • Thanks for the correction. But you haven't responded to the second part of my earlier comment.
    – JK2
    Mar 30, 2020 at 1:50
  • I would have said (and in fact did say, in my Equi/Raising piece) that Raising didn't apply to gerunds. But a few weeks ago Haj Ross sent me the following sentences: (1) I can’t imagine tabs being kept on Max (2) I’ve never seen there being any interest in such weird clauses. (3) Shit keeps hitting the fan about compliments. All of which point to Raising being allowed with some gerund complements. Which ones is another question.
    – jlawler
    Mar 30, 2020 at 2:30

Yes - syntactically, 'Kim' is raised to object. A pronoun there (such as 'him') would be in object form.
'Kim' is the subject of the embedded clause, but that clause is the direct object of 'want', so its subject cannot appear in subject form.

(In BillJ's answer, the main verb is 'told', so if your sentence was "Bob told Kim to mistreat my cat", 'Kim' would be the indirect object - the receiver of the telling.)

  • Please see EDIT and let me know what you think about (3). I think (3) tells me that 'Kim' is the syntactic subject of the subordinate clause rather than a raised object.
    – JK2
    Mar 28, 2020 at 7:11
  • And no, 'Kim' is not an indirect object in 'Bob told Kim to mistreat my cat'. You're conflating this construction with a separate ditransitive construction such as 'Bob told Kim something', where 'Kim' is an indirect object.
    – JK2
    Mar 28, 2020 at 7:13
  • Syntactic is not the same as semantic: * What I didn't want was he mistreating my cat. I'm not sure about the conflation - 'to mistreat my cat' (like a gerund phrase) functions as a noun phrase (the thing that was told to the indirect object - not necessarily reported speech).
    – amI
    Mar 28, 2020 at 7:52

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