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Я хочу його зїсти. I’m trying to say "I want him to eat", but when translated, sounds rather cannibilistic. What is the correct way to say "I want him to eat." in Ukrainian? I thought possibly "I want for him to eat." would translate better, but how would I keep the translation from saying "I want to eat for him.", an entirely different meaning. I’m trying to learn how to properly say not just this one particular sentence, but how to convey the idea that someone wants somebody to do something. Thank you.

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First off, there are two clauses in this sentence: "I want" and "he eat(s)".

English has strict word order, so "want him to" is an accepted way to express someone's will. Also, from the formal standpoint, the two clauses in English are "I want him" and the subjectless clause "to eat".

In Ukrainian, the word order is (almost) free. "He eat(s)" and "eat he(him)" are equivalent, and the meaning is governed by noun cases:

  • він їсть = їсть він — he eats;
  • він їв = їв він — he ate;
  • він поїв = поїв він — he has eaten;
  • його зʼїсти = зʼїсти його — to eat him;

"Я хочу його зʼїсти" is formed with "його" ("він"/Accusative). A rule of thumb: whenever it is not a Nominative, it can't be a subject of action, only an object. Hence, the sentence has only a single meaning, "I want to eat him" (single clause).

As I said above, you need two clauses here, "I want" and "he eat(s)". In order to accomplish this, you use щоб (also щоби / аби) and the subordinate clause put in past tense:

Я хочу, щоби він поїв

Note the comma: subordinate clauses must be separated with punctuation.

There are other notable points, not discussed in this answer, e.g. the perfective/imperfective verb as in …щоб він їв versus …щоб він поїв.

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I want him to eat - Я хочу, щоб він поїв.

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