Retired English Teacher
Hello everyone again.
Let me provide you with three sentences that make me a bit confused about; here they are:
There aren't going to be many students who pass the exam.
There aren't going to be many students passing the exam.
There aren't going to be many students to pass the exam.
To my knowledge, everything in green acts as the postmodification of the noun students.
So the question is, are there any differences in meaning between the three? Is, for instance, the use of to-infinitive clause significantly different to that of -ing clause? Can the three be used interchangeably?
Looking forward to some response.
#1 is correct since "who pass the exam." is an adjective clause modifying the noun student.
#2 is correct since "passing the exam." is a present participle phrase which modifies the noun student. Passing is not a gerund. Gerunds act as nouns not adjectives.
#3 is wrong since "to pass the exam." is an infinitive phrase. An infinitive phrase acts as a noun...not an adjective.
In terms of grammar, your explanation sounds perfect. But what about the sense of each of the sentences, with #3 put aside? Do they convey the same meaning?
Now I feel I need to tell you somethng about my finds I've made - #3 seems all right in accordance with a few grammar books I own, but there are some other sentences explained:
That's the CD to buy. (non-finite form; to buy modifies CD)
That's the CD you should buy. (finite form; you should buy modifies CD)
Making Sense of Grammar, David Crystal
I'm really curious about that!
I stick to my guns on my evaluation of #3. I think it is not right grammatically and doesn't sound good to this native English speaker's ears.
As far as "That's the CD to buy." It is certainly a phrase used in listening/speaking English but there the rules of grammar don't always apply. We speak in phrases all the time. I do agree though that this phrase sounds fine to me, but I would rarely if ever use it in writing English unless of course I was using dialog in a story.
It is often a mystery to me why one phrase sounds fine to a native English speaker's ear but another will not. If you canvass the opinion of native English speakers we seem to agree but we cannot explain why.
So I assume that I'll have to find the grammatical explanation to my issue looking through some more grammar books.