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hi,

I have questions about the following 2 dialogs.

why they use gerund instead of to-infinitive after the adjective, 'she is busy', in the first dialog. I thought sentence with adjective like that should be followed by to-infinitive or gerund of the preposition, such as she is busy with washing up.

1) 'Where's Anne?'
'She's busy to do doing the washing up.'

The second question is why the gerund should be used here? why is it incorrected with to-infinitive?

2) 'The Government appear to have made up their minds at last.'
'It's about time! They've spent months to debate debating this issue.'

thank you very much

edward
Comments  
1. Busy always takes the gerund: They were busy discussing the problem. Another similar adjective is like: There's nothing like eating when one is hungry. You can easily find these uses of the gerund in any grammar book.

2. If the idea is to tell the reader what the Government has been doing, only They've spent months debating this issue is correct. An infinitive denotes purpose: He spent a lot of time to learn English.

CB
Cool Breeze He spent a lot of time to learn English.
Hi, CB. My good ol' instinct is letting me down here.

I'd say, "He spent a lot of time learning English." NOT "He spent a lot of time to learn English."

"It took him a long time to learn English." NOT "It took him a long time learning English."

("Learning English took him a long time" is okay by me.)

To me, infinitive of purpose would be something like, "He married an American to learn English." "She went to do the laundry."

I'm not really into the theory of this stuff, but "to learn" seems like a bad example to me, because it can be viewed as an activity or as an accomplishment. The activity would require the gerund and the accomplishment would require the infinitive. Perhaps when the rest of the context allows either interpretation, the choice of verbal determines the meaning of "to learn." What do you think??

Best wishes, - A.
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Some expressions take the infinitive; others take an -ing form.
There are no reasons. You have to memorize them as the patterns of English.

to be busy ---ing
to spend time ---ing
to have trouble ---ing


CJ
AvangiTo me, infinitive of purpose would be something like, "He married an American to learn English." "She went to do the laundry."

I'm not really into the theory of this stuff, but "to learn" seems like a bad example to me, because it can be viewed as an activity or as an accomplishment. The activity would require the gerund and the accomplishment would require the infinitive. Perhaps when the rest of the context allows either interpretation, the choice of verbal determines the meaning of "to learn." What do you think??


I agree. Spend + infinitive isn't the happiest combination to demonstrate purpose. Spend doesn't preclude the use of an infinitive of purpose, though, if one has a goal in mind. It's easy to find examples by native speakers. I googled this sentence: We spent a week there to assess the situation. (And many more.)

CB
Cool BreezeWe spent a week there to assess the situation.
But isn't it the intervening adverb that "saves" it?

?We spent a week to assess the situation.

CJ
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CalifJim
Cool BreezeWe spent a week there to assess the situation.
But isn't it the intervening adverb that "saves" it?

?We spent a week to assess the situation.


My Helsinki English ear agrees with you there. However, I don't think there's anything wrong with He spent a lot of time to learn English if one wants to emphasize the objective, not the actual activity of learning. In Helsinki English we could make it even more emphatic: He spent a lot of time in order to learn English.

Maybe that is wrong in other Englishes.Emotion: smile

CB

EDIT: I don't usually google for anything but this one made me do so. "spent a lot of time to" gives thousands of hits with an infinitive as the next word, many of them by native speakers.
thank you to all of yours replys
I´m afraid it IS wrong. "Spend time" can only be used in verb + gerund constructions or with further adverbial phrases. It´s a rule (it may change in the future, but for the moment, it sounds very wrong to a native ear any other way). It is like a transitive verb that must always be followed by an object - We can´t say "I took." for example. You´d have to say "I took it". So the options are:

1) Spend time + gerund (I spent a week writing the essay)

2) Spend time + adverbial phrase (I spent a week in the Bahamas ; I spent a week there)

but not

3) Spend time + infitive (I spent time to learn English) It´s simply wrong.

How do you know the people who wrote "spent a lot of time to" are really native speakers?
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