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    #1

    I do anything but ...

    I have found an exercise in an American ESL book where the
    student is supposed to complete the following sentence with whatever comes to his or her mind:
    I do anything but _________________________ .

    I think that only verbs will do the job. But my question is, should the verb come in the infinitve or gerund form? Or both depending on the verb (my guess)?

    For example, are the answers below acceptable?

    I do anything but cheating in my tests.
    I do anything but to cheat in my tests.

    I do anything but cheat in my tests.

    I do anything but study English on Saturdays.
    I do anything but spelling her name correctly.
    I do anything but take off my clothes.
    I do anything but taking off my clothes.

    I do anything but kill a person.
    I do anything but drive at night.
    I do anything but doing nothing.

    Which of the constructions above are right/wrong?



    Oh, I have just observed that not only verbs can do the job here:
    I do anything but my homework.
    I do anything but the dishes.

    But another "do" is implied, right?

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I do anything but ...

    It's not clear whether the exercise is aimed at the relatively rare form 'I do anything but...' or the much more common 'I'd do anything but...'. On the face it, there's no reason to suppose it's not aimed at 'I do anything but...'; but in any case it's worth pointing out to students that there's a difference. In both cases a bare infinitive is all that's needed, but in some cases there are options,

    If I have the network on, I do anything but work when I use my computer.
    If I have the network on, I do anything but what I meant to do when I switched my computer on.

    And:
    If I were rich, I'd do anything but work.
    If I were rich, I'd do anything but what my boss told me :
    tick:

    Both can take a noun phrase 'what I meant to do'/'what my boss told me', which suggests a gerund should be OK. It sounds odd to me though. And a 'to'-infinitive is definitely wrong (to this Br Eng ear, at least )

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 17-Dec-2009 at 19:05. Reason: Added last sentence

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    #3

    Re: I do anything but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    ...


    Oh, I have just observed that not only verbs can do the job here:
    I do anything but my homework.
    I do anything but the dishes.

    But another "do" is implied, right?
    - or at least the noun is one that can only be done or not done (which amounts to the same thing).

    b

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    #4

    Re: I do anything but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    It's not clear whether the exercise is aimed at the relatively rare form 'I do anything but...' or the much more common 'I'd do anything but...'.
    The goal of the exercise is to fix the usage of "but" with the meaning of "except". Prior to the sentence I wrote above there were two other ones which posed no difficulty. The three sentences in a row are:
    I'd go anywhere but _______________ .
    I could travel with everybody but ________________ .
    I do anything but _________________ .
    After these three sentences, the book passes on to another subject.

    I am still reading and trying to understand your answer BobK.
    The examples I gave in my previous post (with 'ing' and complete infinitive) are tacitly wrong?

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    #5

    Re: I do anything but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Both can take a noun phrase 'what I meant to do'/'what my boss told me', which suggests a gerund should be OK. It sounds odd to me though. And a 'to'-infinitive is definitely wrong (to this Br Eng ear, at least )
    You mean a gerund could or should be used? Would it strongly depend on the situation?


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    #6

    Re: I do anything but ...

    ?I do anything but (I do) cheating in my tests. (I do cheating?)
    I do anything but to cheat in my tests.[/I]
    I do anything but cheat in my tests.

    Diagramming is a good way of demonstating the structure of these sentences.


    Last edited by Kondorosi; 17-Dec-2009 at 19:50.

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    #7

    Re: I do anything but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    You mean a gerund could or should be used? Would it strongly depend on the situation?
    Neither. By 'should be OK' I meant 'it would be reasonable to expect [since a noun phrase is OK and a gerund is a verbal noun] that it should be OK'. But, as I said, it sounds odd to me, and Kondorosi's post suggests why.

    b

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    #8

    Re: I do anything but ...

    May I suggest the question should be "I'd do anything but ___" or "I'll do anything but ___"?

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    #9

    Re: I do anything but ...

    'I'll do...', 'I'd do...', and 'I do...' are all possible, all with different meanings.

    b

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