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  1. #1
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    Default Infinitive x Ing

    Please, let me know why the verb to be sometimes is followed by "to" and sometimes by "ing". What's the difference?

    Example:

    a) It was nice to meet you. / It was nice talking to you.

    b) Why wasn't the infinitive "to" used in the following sentence:
    "All she does is watch TV" / "What you need to do is take the opportunity."

    Thanks.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    In a), either form is OK in either sentence, Emanuelli.

    It was nice meeting/to meet you.
    It was nice talking/to talk to you.

    They are minor variations in a common structure. The infinitive may tend to suggest the complete act, while the -ing form may tend to emphasize the experience of performing the act.

    Many verbs take either form (and many others do not!), but only in a few does it make a significant difference to the meaning (for instance, 'remember doing/to do').


    In b):

    "What you need to do is take the opportunity." -- the subsequent 'to's in a parallel structure (S-C) or series may be elided if the meaning is clear: 'what you need to do is wash the dishes, clean your room, and pick up your clothes'.

    "All she does is watch TV" -- this one stumps me, because I would have thought (until I tried it in my mind's ear) it should be 'all she does is watches'. There is no call for an infinitive here, yet I cannot account for the seemingly more natural unmarked verb form. If I write 'what she does is watches TV all day and never cleans the house', the parallel structure falls into place, but in your sentence--?

    Maybe Casi willl help us out.

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    Question Re: Infinitive x Ing

    I think I've just found the answe for "all she does is". In an English book, they gave the example: "All they do is + infinitive" to say that this structure is used when you talk about bad behavour, then I think it'll be the same for all the others!!!

    All (somebody does) is + ing

    What do you think???

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Emanuelli
    I think I've just found the answe for "all she does is". In an English book, they gave the example: "All they do is + infinitive" to say that this structure is used when you talk about bad behavour, then I think it'll be the same for all the others!!!

    All (somebody does) is + ing

    What do you think???
    Bad behavior? I wouldn't say so.

    Are these examples of bad behavior? I don't think so.

    All she does is study. She'll learn English faster than the others.

    Every morning, all they do is exercise. They eat well too - no fatty foods.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Emanuelli
    I think I've just found the answe for "all she does is". In an English book, they gave the example: "All they do is + infinitive" to say that this structure is used when you talk about bad behavour, then I think it'll be the same for all the others!!!

    All (somebody does) is + ing

    What do you think???
    How about this:

    Do + Be + Base Form - used for emphasis

    All they did was watch tv.

    All they do is watch tv.

    All they do is talk. They never stop.

    All they did was talk.

    All they'll ever do is talk.

    ____________________________________

    Here are two examples. One uses "do", and the other does not.
    • All they do is think about stealing money.
    By comparison we could say:
    • All they think about is stealing money.
    I think the form "Do + BE + Base Form" is used for emphasis.
    Last edited by Steven D; 06-Mar-2005 at 16:39.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Emanuelli
    I think I've just found the answe for "all she does is". In an English book, they gave the example: "All they do is + infinitive" to say that this structure is used when you talk about bad behavour, then I think it'll be the same for all the others!!!

    All (somebody does) is + ing

    What do you think???
    In addition to what I said about "Do + Be + Base Form", I would take it a step further and say this applies to other verbs besides "do". Other verbs are used before "BE" in a similar form. However, in this case, "Be" is followed by a noun or noun phrase, not the base form of a verb.

    For example:

    All they like is jazz music. They like nothing else.

    compare: They only like jazz music.

    The only thing they eat is fish. Who knows why?

    compare: They only eat fish.

    It appears to me that Verb + Be + Noun is used for emphasis.

    Could we describe the adverbial that comes before the verb as restrictive? Maybe.

    Let's try another.

    The last thing we want is more snow.

    compare: We don't want anymore snow.

    Given this example, it still appears to me that "Verb + Be + Noun" is used for emphasis. It also appears that an adverbial of some type is required. Is it always a restrictive or negative adverbial that would be used? The least we can say is that a negative adverbial can be used.

    We also have "Do + Be + Base Form". This is also used for emphasis.

    What we essentially have here is "Verb + Be". If "do" is the verb that precedes "Be" then the base form of a verb follows "Be". If "Do" is not the verb that precedes "Be", then a noun or a noun phrase follows "Be".

    On Sunday morning, the only thing they do is sleep late. - Do + Be + Base Form

    compare: They always sleep late on Sunday morning.

    All we had was toast and coffee this morning. We'll get lunch soon. - Verb + Be + Noun/Noun Phrase

    compare: We only had toast and coffee this morning.

    The sentences that use "Be" are emphaitic by comparison to the sentences that do not use "Be".
    Last edited by Steven D; 06-Mar-2005 at 17:27.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    What we have going on here is fronting--as you say, for emphasis. The normal structure:

    'More snow is the last thing we want.'
    'Stealing money is all they think about.'
    'You need to take the opportunity.'

    In order to weight the end of the sentence, where the new information should be, we front the given:

    'The last thing we want is more snow.'
    'All they think about is stealing money.'
    'What you need to do is take the opportunity.'

    In the last example (to get back to my original confusion), we create a pseudo-cleft sentence, which according to Quirk, Greembaum, et al, uses the substitute 'do', "whose complement is normally an infinitive clause (with or without 'to')":

    'What he has done is (to) spoil the whole thing.'
    'What he did to his suit was (to) ruin it.'

    Exceptionally however, when the wh-clause has progressive aspect (they say), the complement matches it with an -ing clause:

    'What I am doing is teaching you a lesson.'
    'All they are doing is stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.'

    This at least clears up the part of the original post that I was unsure of, and the answer to your question is 'yes', Emanuelli, if the 'do' is 'doing'.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    I know about fronting, but that's not really what I was getting at.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    What we have going on here is fronting--as you say, for emphasis. The normal structure:

    'More snow is the last thing we want.'
    'Stealing money is all they think about.' <<<<<


    You're sentences are examples of fronting.

    The comparisons I made in my posts were not about fronting.

    Fronting is done for emphasis. It draws more attention to other elements within a sentence. It's a type of inversion I would say. No one thinks about fronting though. They just front, and front, and front.

    Fronting forever!
    Last edited by Steven D; 07-Mar-2005 at 05:31.

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    Default Re: Infinitive x Ing

    Sorry, my comments were not addessed to you, X. I was trying to complete my original discussion with Emanuelli at the top of this thread; I just grabbed your sentence as an example. I have done now, so please carry on with whatever you wanted to say.

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