'Desire Something' or 'Desire for Something'? | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 22 March 2024)

Alternatively, you could say I'm not fishing for compliments or I don't want compliments. The phrase fishing for compliments is often used when someone tries to make people say good things about them.
(Source: 下一站5**:天后的DSE英文教室)

Part 1

Desire or Desire For: Which One Is Correct?

Desire can be either a verb or a noun. The word, especially its verb form, is rarely used in casual speech because it is too formal. People usually say want rather than desire. It is common in fiction, where writers often want to express a character's thoughts.

As a verb, desire is never used with the preposition for. It is simply followed by a direct object:

Most of us desire health and happiness.
Most of us desire for health and happiness.

He desired a child with his new wife.
He desired for a child with his new wife.

This luxury car has everything you could possibly desire.
This luxury car has everything you could possibly desire for.

When the verb desire is followed by another verb, use the pattern desire to do something:

More and more people desire to live in the city centre.

Chris desires to return to Toronto one day.

Feeling utterly bored, she desired to go home as soon as possible.

It is also possible to use the pattern desire someone to do something:

The family desired him to stay until the next day.

She desired her violent husband to stay away from her.

What does the king desire us to do?

Desire is followed by for only when it is a noun:

Most of us have a desire for health and happiness.

John has a strong desire for adventure.

Her ex-boyfriend ruined her desire for romance.

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Other Pages from the Same Book

Part 2: 'On Second Thought' or 'On Second Thoughts'?
Part 3: 'Look For' or 'Find'?

Examples from the Media

All founders of growing companies face a central decision: do they desire wealth or hands-on involvement? —The Globe and Mail (2011)

"The council finds it unfortunate that two very great nations, both of whom desire peace, should be fighting each other in a place which is celebrated as the birthplace of the prince of peace, Jesus Christ," Major Harris said. —The Sydney Morning Herald (2002)

Perhaps the single most overriding theme in American popular culture from the 17th Century on has been the desire for entertainment. —The Washington Post (1978)

A technical photographer, he began to retrain as a counsellor. He did an MA (his thesis was on how the desire for fatherhood affects men), then got funding to start a PhD on life without fatherhood. —The Guardian (2017)

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