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Thread: worthwhile etc.

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    #1

    worthwhile etc.

    Dear teachers,

    I have three questions to ask.

    No.1
    a. Do you think it worthwhile to buy one of those electronic dictionaries?
    b. It's worthwhile taking the trouble to explain a job fully to new employees.

    In my grammar book it states that in the structure 'it is worthwhile' gerund should be used (see b). But in another book I found sentence 'a'. To me the only difference between sentence 'a' and 'b' is that it doesn't have 'it is'. Is that the reason why infinitive is used?

    No.2
    I get confused by 'be+ doing' and 'be+to do'. Please read the following sentences:

    a. Part of my job as the President's secretary is to help organize conferences and keep him informed.
    b. I told him a couple of rumors that I'd heard and his response was to roar with laughter and later tell other friends.

    My question is: Can I replace the underlined parts with 'helping' and 'roaring'?

    No. 3
    _______ the lawn turned out to be a waste of effort as it rained immediately afterwards.
    a. Watering b. To water
    The key is 'a'. But my grammar book states that when it refers to an action in general 'verb-ing' should be used as the subject of a sentence. When it refers to a particular action 'to do' should be used as the subject of a sentence. My question is: Is 'b' the correct answer?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

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    #2

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,

    I have three questions to ask.

    No.1
    a. Do you think it worthwhile to buy one of those electronic dictionaries?
    b. It's worthwhile taking the trouble to explain a job fully to new employees.

    In my grammar book it states that in the structure 'it is worthwhile' gerund should be used (see b). But in another book I found sentence 'a'. To me the only difference between sentence 'a' and 'b' is that it doesn't have 'it is'. Is that the reason why infinitive is used?
    There may be a slight BE/AE difference with this construction, but I would accept the infinitive even with "it is" in the first sentence. I would not, however, accept the gerund in sentence 1 as it is written.

    I prefer the gerund in #2, but I would accept the infinitive.

    No.2
    I get confused by 'be+ doing' and 'be+to do'. Please read the following sentences:

    a. Part of my job as the President's secretary is to help organize conferences and keep him informed.
    b. I told him a couple of rumors that I'd heard and his response was to roar with laughter and later tell other friends.

    My question is: Can I replace the underlined parts with 'helping' and 'roaring'?
    If you use "helping" in the first, you need to follow it with "to".
    I would not use the ferund in #2. The reason is that it will cause the reader to stumble. It can easily be read as "his response was roaring with laughter" as if his response had that quality.

    No. 3
    _______ the lawn turned out to be a waste of effort as it rained immediately afterwards.
    a. Watering b. To water
    The key is 'a'. But my grammar book states that when it refers to an action in general 'verb-ing' should be used as the subject of a sentence. When it refers to a particular action 'to do' should be used as the subject of a sentence. My question is: Is 'b' the correct answer?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    I would only use the gerund there. In many cases, there is a subtle difference between these two verbals. The gerund often refers to a concrete, actual activity and the infinitive often refers to a theoretical action not yet performed. The context of this sentence makes it clear that the watering was actually done.

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    #3

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    &

    Dear Mike I understand some of your explanations but fail to understand others. Could you please explain more?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    There may be a slight BE/AE difference with this construction, but I would accept the infinitive even with "it is" in the first sentence. I would not, however, accept the gerund in sentence 1 as it is written. ( I don't understand this one because in sentence 1 'Do you think it worthwhile to buy one of those electronic dictionaries?'there isn't gerund in this sentence).

    I prefer the gerund in #2, but I would accept the infinitive. ( I understand this one).



    No.2
    If you use "helping" in the first, you need to follow it with "to". ( I understand this explanation).
    I would not use the ferund in #2. The reason is that it will cause the reader to stumble. It can easily be read as "his response was roaring with laughter" as if his response had that quality. ( I don't understand this explanation).



    I would only use the gerund there. In many cases, there is a subtle difference between these two verbals. The gerund often refers to a concrete, actual activity and the infinitive often refers to a theoretical action not yet performed. The context of this sentence makes it clear that the watering was actually done.
    ( I understand this one).

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    1. There is no gerund in that sentence and I wouldn't accept a gerund there. I was trying to show a difference with the other sentence which would work with either a gerund or an infinitive.

    2. I don't know how to explain it much better. In the sentence "his response was to roar with laughter", it is clear that:

    1. Something happened.
    2. He roared with laughter.

    When the gerund is substituted, the statement can be read as if "roaring" were a present participle (creating a progressive verb) or an adjective describing his response. What you want is a noun. The infinitve is clearly a noun there.

    Another example:

    His idea was to make money. [he wants to make money]
    His idea was making money. [his idea is already making money]

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    #5

    Re: worthwhile etc.


    Dear Mike,

    Thank you very much for your further explanation. Now I see.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    1. There is no gerund in that sentence and I wouldn't accept a gerund there. I was trying to show a difference with the other sentence which would work with either a gerund or an infinitive.

    2. I don't know how to explain it much better. In the sentence "his response was to roar with laughter", it is clear that:

    1. Something happened.
    2. He roared with laughter.

    When the gerund is substituted, the statement can be read as if "roaring" were a present participle (creating a progressive verb) or an adjective describing his response. What you want is a noun. The infinitve is clearly a noun there.

    Another example:

    His idea was to make money. [he wants to make money]
    His idea was making money. [his idea is already making money]

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you very much for your further explanation. Now I see.

    Jiang
    Great! You're welcome.

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    #7

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    There may be a slight BE/AE difference with this construction, but I would accept the infinitive even with "it is" in the first sentence. I would not, however, accept the gerund in sentence 1 as it is written.

    I prefer the gerund in #2, but I would accept the infinitive.



    If you use "helping" in the first, you need to follow it with "to".
    I would not use the ferund in #2. The reason is that it will cause the reader to stumble. It can easily be read as "his response was roaring with laughter" as if his response had that quality.




    I would only use the gerund there. In many cases, there is a subtle difference between these two verbals. The gerund often refers to a concrete, actual activity and the infinitive often refers to a theoretical action not yet performed. The context of this sentence makes it clear that the watering was actually done.

    Hi Mike!

    I've read that the gerund also refers to general actions and the infinitive is used for current actions.

    1. I like to play tennis (said during the process).
    2. I like playing tennis (said when off the court).

    Can you confirm that?
    Last edited by retro; 18-Oct-2006 at 01:35.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    Hi Mike!

    I've read that the gerund also refers to general actions and the infinitive is used to current actions.

    1. I like to play tennis (said during the process).
    2. I like playing tennis (said when off the court).

    Can you confirm that?
    I would say just the opposite, although there is almost no difference with the verb "like". I would be more likely to say #1 off the court and #2 during a game.

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    #9

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I would say just the opposite, although there is almost no difference with the verb "like". I would be more likely to say #1 off the court and #2 during a game.


    How about these ones?

    can't bear:
    • I can't bear to see you suffer like this. (You are suffering now.)
    • I can't bear being pushed round in crowds. (I never like that.)
    Source: Answers.com - Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more

    It seems that your statement and this are at odds. Or do different rules refer to "like" and "bear" ?

  7. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: worthwhile etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    How about these ones?

    can't bear:
    • I can't bear to see you suffer like this. (You are suffering now.)
    • I can't bear being pushed round in crowds. (I never like that.)
    Source: Answers.com - Online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and much more

    It seems that your statement and this are at odds. Or do different rules refer to "like" and "bear" ?
    I really don't see conflict, but I also don't see a rule in what you have posted.

    In the first, "like this" would indicate that the person is suffereing now with either choice. I see no difference.

    In the second, the person wouldn't like it with either choice. IMO, however, if the person were saying this on a crowded train, the gerund form would be more likely.

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