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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Shown to improve/improving

    Hi,

    "Physical activity has also been shown to improve/improving mental health."
    In this sentence, I know from my experience that the answer is to improve, but I can't explain why.

    What's the rule for this? Why cannot I use improving? And can you give me another example with a different verb other than shown?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by dodeca; 09-Jan-2017 at 11:17.

  2. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #2

    Re: Shown to improve/improving

    To here is a particle/infinitive marker and not a preposition- when to is a preposition, the verb that follows, as with any preposition, is a gerund.
    Last edited by Tdol; 10-Jan-2017 at 10:41.

  3. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: Shown to improve/improving

    Thank you. I understood why a gerund wouldn't come after "to" here. But I meant to ask (instead of "shown to improving") why we can't say "shown improving." Why shown takes to infinitive here instead of a gerund (improving)?

  4. Skrej's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Shown to improve/improving

    Some verbs can take both the gerund or infinitive, with a resulting difference in meaning. Sometimes one of those meanings may be nonsensical, even if grammatically correct.

    For example, if we say that 'physical exercise has been shown to improve', that means that it has been proven or demonstrated that physical exercise can improve mental health.

    If we were to say that 'physical exercise has been shown improving', it would mean that somebody has watched or looked at physical exercising improving its own mental health, which of course is nonsense. Physical exercise isn't alive, and therefore can't perform a visible activity.

    If we were to switch the subject from 'psychical exercise' to 'John', then both the infinitive and gerund would work, albeit with different meanings.

    John has been shown to improve mental health = John has demonstrated he can improve (or has improved) his mental health.
    John has been shown improving his mental health = Pictures or video have captured John in the action of improving his mental health. Granted, I'm not really sure what that action would look like, but it illustrates a point.
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