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What is the difference in meaning between the two sentences?

1- They did what I wanted.

2- They did what I wanted them to do.
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cat deskdifference in meaning

The first allows the possibility that you did not necessarily want them to do it.

You wanted someone (anyone) to do something. As it turns out "they" came along, and "they" did it for you.

In other words, the first sentence allows the interpretation

"They did what I wanted someone to do."

CJ

Comments  
cat desk What is the difference in meaning between the two sentences?

In the plain sense "Their behavior was in conformity with my desires for it", there is no difference. The first implies that you asked them to do it, and they then did. (I told them I hoped they would pull the dandelions on their lawn, and they did what I wanted.) The second would apply better than the first if they did not know that you wanted it. (I pulled my patrols back hoping to draw the enemy into an ambush, and they did what I wanted them to do, sending a full brigade down the wadi."

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.