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I took a test, and one of the answers was "Give Machines a Break to Avoid Overuse."

But I wrote "Give Machines a Break to Avoid Overusing" because "avoid" is followed by a gerund.

But my teacher said my answer is incorrect because no object follows the transitive verb "overuse".

Is it true? Is my answer incorrect?

Can you give me any counterexamples that validate my answer?

Thank you so much.

(I'm desperate for extra points.)

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shcho23But my teacher said my answer is incorrect because no object follows the transitive verb "overuse".

You are both wrong, but in different ways.

First, "overuse" is a noun here, not a verb.

Your teacher is correct in that if "overuse" is used as a verb (or verb form), it must be followed by an object.

Do not overuse your muscles when you begin an exercise program. If you do, they will be strained and sore. 

Avoid is followed by noun objects, or it can be a catenative verb taking present participle (or non-finite clause with a gerund-participial verb) as a complement.

e.g.

To avoid delays, mail your holiday gifts early.
To avoid confusion, print legibly.
The two nations did everything possible to avoid war.
Avoid excessive trading in a brokerage account.
Avoid eating a heavy meal after exercise.

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[1] Give machines a break to to avoid overuse.

[2] Give machines a break to avoid overusing.


Both are correct, though [1] is far more likely.

In [1] "overuse" is a noun functioning as object of "avoid".

In [2] "overusing" is strictly speaking ambiguous between a verb and a noun, though verb preferred.

In the verb analysis "overusing" is functioning as head of a gerund-participial clause serving as complement of "avoid". It is considered intransitive by virtue of having an unexpressed object, in this case "them".

Noun interpretation can be forced by adjectival premodification: to avoid unnecessary/excessive overusing. Similar examples include "overeating", "overheating", "overpaying" and the like.

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Comments  

Yes, "overuse" is a noun in the correct answer. But "overusing", a gerund, is also a noun, isn't it?

So, do you mean "Do not overuse!" is absolutely incorrect?


Thank you so much.

shcho23But "overusing", a gerund, is also a noun, isn't it?

No. It is a verb.

Certain v-ing forms have become nouns. For example: meeting and building. They can be modified by adjectives. e.g. a long, tedious meeting; a tall impressive building.

Verbs cannot be modified by adjectives, only adverbs.

Overuse can be modified by an adjective. Note the of-phrase following that is a marker of a noun.

Gross overuse of certain drugs can cause death.

Compare with the use of the verb form. The of-phrase must be changed to a direct object.

Overusing drugs can cause death.

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Thank you for your kind reply.


Can I ask two things?

1. "avoid ~ing" is no trouble at all. Is it correct?

2. Take another verb (noun);

1) I'm in the middle of analyzing this report.

2) I'm in the middle of the analysis of this report.

I believe the above two sentences are correct. But how about

3) I'm in the middle of analyzing.

4) I'm in the middle of the analysis.?

Are 3) and 4) both incorrect?

What I really want to know is if, by any chance, "overuse" (or in the case of my original post, "overusing") can be used without an object.

I'm so sorry for troubling you. But as I said, I can't help but think "Give Machines a break to Avoid Overusing" is at least grammatical.


Thank you so much.

 BillJ's reply was promoted to an answer.
shcho231. "avoid ~ing" is no trouble at all. Is it correct?

No. Avoid requires an object or complement.

Avoiding obstacles is no trouble at all.
Avoiding getting Covid-19 is possible if you wear a face mask and practice social distancing.

shcho231) I'm in the middle of analyzing this report.

That is good.

shcho233) I'm in the middle of analyzing.

That is unnatural.

Likewise:

I'm in the middle of doing my homework. (good)
I'm in the middle of writing my new novel. (good)

I'm in the middle of doing. (wrong)
I'm in the middle of writing. (unnatural)

shcho234) I'm in the middle of the analysis.?

That is good.

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