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Hello, my name is Rhina Franco and I am a teacher. We are studying gerunds and infinitives. According to the books I have read, infinitives do not follow preposition; however, there is an exception to this rule as I have read. In the case of the prepositions that show exception, as mentioned in one of the sources I have read, an infinitive can follow them.

for example: She did everything but make her bed.

But one of my students has come with this sentence: I am about to leave.

My question is: Is this sentence grammatically "correct" in terms of standard English? How can "about to leave" be analized?

is the word "to" part of "leave" or part of about? Is this a case of an infinitive working as object of a preposition?

Thanks for your help.

Rhina Franco
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Comments  
Like 'be going to','be about to' is idiomatic and is called a 'semi-auxiliary' verb. 'Leave' is a bare infinitive. Some dictionaries call 'about' a preposition, others call it an adverb; I'm happy to avoid the issue and settle for 'idiom'.
Also, "but" isn't a proposition, but a conjunction
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AnonymousI am about to leave.
My question is: Is this sentence grammatically "correct" in terms of standard English? How can "about to leave" be analized analyzed?
It's correct. about can be considered an adverb in this idiom. If about were a preposition, it would be in a sentence like this:

We talked about leaving early.

CJ
AnonymousAccording to the books I have read, infinitives do not follow preposition;
There is an exception to everything in English:

"Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home."

CB
I think some grammarians would argue that for is not a preposition there either, but a complementizer akin to the for in It's important for him to take me home, as that is the complementizer in the synonymous It's important that he take me home.

Sadly, I can't say that I am able to reproduce their arguments in any detail, however. I'm only going by vague recollections of something I read somewhere! Emotion: smile

CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Mr. Franco: (1) "She did everything but make her bed" is, according to grammarians, an ellipsis of "She did everything but (that she did) make her bed." (2) "I am about to leave," as the previous contributors have told you can be parsed in two ways. (a) a very old grammar book by Homer C. House says "about" is a preposition ("with very little prepositional force") in "He was about to close his shop." (b) Another old but good grammar by R. W. Pence parses "We are about to have a storm" in this way: "to have " with its object ("a storm") is an infinitive that completes the predication begun by ARE. "About" is an adverbial modifier that introduces the infinitive complement. Hopefully, the advice given you by all the contributors will help you in answering students' questions.
"but" is a preposition when it is used in the sense of "except." Yes, it is also a coordinating conjunction.
thakYou so Much Sir Emotion: smile
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