Apologies - by then, I had completely forgotten the original question!
Mr.Lucky_One - no, you cannot say "I want it to be back" without changing the meaning.
I want it back = I want it to be returned to me/I want it to come back to me.
If you lend a book to a friend, and your friend still has it after six months, you might start to be a little irritated. You have decided that you want to read the book again but your friend still has it. You might say to your friend "Do you remember that book about butterflies that I lent you six months ago? Well, I want it back."
Imagine that you own a dog. One day, your dog runs away while you are taking it for a walk in the park. You are very sad. You say to your friends "I miss Barky, my dog. I really want him back". Some people might not bother with the gender of the dog and would say "I want it back".
1. What a coincidence. I was thinking about "back" all last night.
2. Sometimes it is easier to analyze a sentence if you change the pronoun to a noun.
3. So let's analyze "I want the bookback."
4. First, here is a sentence from The New Oxford American Dictionary: He was given his job back.
a. The dictionary classifies it as an adverb in that sentence.
b. I am 99.99% sure that it would also be good English to say "He was given back his job."
i. In that position, you can more clearly see that "back" is an adverb modifying the verb "was given."
5. Thus, I believe that we can conclude that "back" in your sentence is an adverb modifying the verb "want."
a. As you know, one way to know the part of speech is to use the process of elimination. In your sentence, "back" cannot be a noun (such as "My back is killing me") or a verb ("He backed the car into the garage") or an adjective ("The back yard is an absolute mess"). THEREFORE, it must be an adverb.
The only possible use I can think of is extremely unlikely:
- Guess what my favourite word is?
- I don't know.
- I can't. Give me a clue.
- OK. It has four letters.
- I give up.
- Oh please don't. I'm enjoying this game. Here's a clue. My favourite word is either "blob" or "back".
- I hate the word "blob". I want it to be "back".
Well, I realize everybody is tired of explaining me all these things about "I want it back". I'm sorry I really don't get why "I want it to be back" is wrong. It seems to me that my clause is grammatically right, isn't it?
Returning to the example with lost dog.
Can I say "I want him to come back to me"?