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Hello everyone. I have a couple of questions.

Regarding the following passage:

In the warm months, the soldiers enjoyed being outside. When winter came, they got to work building rustic huts to live in.

Q1 Is the "work" in the second sentence a transitive verb? I mean, is this verb phrase close in meaning to "do the activity of building rustic huts to live in" ?

Q2 How does the construction "got to work" work in the last sentence? Is this close to "began to work"?

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"get to work" is an idiomatic phrase meaning "start working". "work" is actually a noun there.

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seagullIn the warm months, the soldiers enjoyed being outside. When winter came, they got to work building rustic huts to live in.
Q1 Is the "work" in the second sentence a transitive verb? I mean, is this verb phrase close in meaning to "do the activity of building rustic huts to live in" ?

No, “work” is a catenative verb used intransitively here. The non-finite subordinate clause “building rustic huts …” is not an object but catenative complement of “work”.

seagullQ2 How does the construction "got to work" work in the last sentence? Is this close to "began to work"?

"Get to x” is an informal verbal idiom with a meaning similar to "embarked upon", "commenced", “permitted”, "instructed to do something" etc. The first of those meanings seems applicable in this case.

Syntactically, “get” is a catenative verb taking infinitival and other non-finite clauses as catenative complement, so the structure is "get" (head verb) + "to work" (infinitival clause as catenative complement).

Note that "to" is a subordinator here, not a preposition.

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Comments  

Thank you so much indeed, GPY.

May I ask you an additional question? Is the "building" in the sentence a gerund? Can we rewrite this sentence into "When winter came, they started to undertake building rustic huts to live in"?

 BillJ's reply was promoted to an answer.
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BillJ“to” (subordinator)

Do you mean the infinitive particle "to" as a subordinator? Isn't it a preposition followed, as GPY suggests, by a noun "work"?

BillJThe non-finite subordinate clause “To work building rustic huts …” is not an object but catenative complement of “work”.

I don't think so. Maybe you meant ... complement of "get"? Or maybe something else? "work" can't be its own complement.

CJ

seagullMay I ask you an additional question? Is the "building" in the sentence a gerund?

This seems a tricky question to me. Because the meaning is so similar to "got to work on building rustic huts to live in", where "building" is a gerund, I was initially going to say yes. On the other hand, it is also very like "When winter came, they got to work, building rustic huts to live in", where it isn't.

Perhaps someone else has a view on this, though it would rather seem to first depend on agreeing that "work" is a noun and not a verb. Despite views expressed to the contrary, I am sticking with my opinion that it is a noun.

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CalifJim
BillJThe non-finite subordinate clause “To work building rustic huts …” is not an object but catenative complement of “work”.

I don't think so. Maybe you meant ... complement of "get"? Or maybe something else? "work" can't be its own complement.

CJ

A typo - it should have read “building rustic huts …” (not "to work building rustic huts"). I've corrected it.

BillJA typo

OK. No problem.

CJ

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