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Thread: for/to

  1. #1
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Default for/to

    Which of the following are correct:
    1-This key is for opening the front door.
    2-This key is to open the front door.
    3-This key is for you to open the front door.

    4-This fruit is for eating.
    5-This fruit is to eat.
    6-This fruit is for you to eat.

  2. #2
    gwendolinest Guest

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    3 and 6 sound the best to me, 2 and 5 the least so. However, I think all of them are okay more or less.

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  3. #3
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Thanks Gwen.
    I thought 2 and 5 were downright wrong.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    They're not wrong, but don't sound natural. :P

  5. #5
    Anonymous Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    They're not wrong, but don't sound natural. :P

    This is the key to the front door.

    Use this key to open the front door.


    I think those are more natural sounding and mean the same thing.

  6. #6
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    That settles it. Thanks Gwen, TDOL, and Talktown.

    It is interesting though, I thought they were wrong and you think they are not natural. As a non-native speaker, I guess I must have thought that it is better to avoid these structures and classified them (unconsciously) as "wrong". This happens to me quite often and I am ttrying to figure out what structures classified in my head as "wrong" are merely "unnatural". One does occasionally come across such structures in books. I don't have the example at hand but will try to post it later.

  7. #7
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    I found it. Here it is:
    "He confided to me that all the dramatic critics were in a conspiracy against him, and that they were every one of them to be bought."
    Oscar Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Here 'to be bought' means they were all capable of being bought.

  9. #9
    navi tasan is offline Key Member
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    Yes. You are as usual right on the money.
    Obviously they are not there just to be bought, but I think it is the same grammatical structure.
    As far as I know generally this "to be" structure is used in two cases:

    1-when something has been planned, almost equivalent to "to be supposed to", as in:
    "I am to see the manager.", where a prior arrangement is implied
    and:
    2-as an equivalent to the for+gerund structure, as in:
    "This key is to open the door.", "This coat is to be worn in the summer." where the function of the thing is mentioned.

    But with the passive infinitive, this structure might imply possibility. I think the sentence "They are to be bought." falls in the second category, but as the verb is in the passive it implies possibility. "They CAN be bought."

    "The animals to be found in this forest are: the squirel, the rabbit..."
    is in a way ambiguous:
    a-the animals that can be found
    b-the animals that are found

    But I think (and here I am not sure of what I am saying) when the verb is active this structure shows the function of the noun that is modified. If I say:

    A- "The animals to hunt here are the lion and the fox."

    I don't think my sentences would mean: "The animals one CAN hunt here are the lion and the fox." Could you just tell me if this analysis is correct of if I am wrong about sentence A?

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    It could mean what you say, or it could be advice- the best animals to hunt here... :P

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