‘To’ before a verb
IT IS a grammatical rule that a verb preceded by “ to” should be followed by the base word of the verb. I have come across verbs preceded by “ to” that use other forms of the base word, for example: “Plying various trades refers to working in different occupations.”
Is it correct to say that “ to” can be followed by a participle or perfect tense? How do I explain this to students of English language? –Rajah
“To” has more than one function. It is commonly used as a preposition, when it comes before a noun, noun phrase, pronoun, or gerund (i.e. –ing form of a verb acting as a noun). It can also be used after a verb to form a phrasalverb.
In the sentence you have given as an example, i.e. “Plying various trades refers toworking in different occupations.”, “to” is part of the phrasal verb “ refersto” and “ working” is a gerund.
The online Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, in definition #12 of “ to” as a preposition, gives the following sentence as one of its examples: “I prefer walking to climbing.”
Here, we see an example of the use of a gerund after “to” (i.e. “climbing”) as well as one after a non-phrasal verb (i.e.” walking” after “prefer”).
The grammatical rule you mentioned, when “to” should be used before the base form of a verb, refers to “ to” as an infinitivemarker and not a preposition. You can find details of this function of “to”, with examples, in the same dictionary at:
I HAVE a question about the meaning of “otherwise” in the context of this sentence: “A pathogen infects otherwise healthy hosts.”
Does it mean it infects healthy people or it infects immunocompromised people? –Lee
The sentence means that it infects healthy people. “Otherwise” there means “in other respects”. ( Concise Oxford English Dictionary). The hosts referred to are in other respects healthy except for the pathogen infection.
The following sentence from a medical website makes a distinction between “otherwise healthy people” and “immunocompromised people”:
“Viral pneumonia in adults can be classified into two clinical groups: so-called atypical pneumonia in otherwise healthyhosts and viral pneumonia in immunocompromisedhosts.”
Smiled and smiling
I HAD gone round asking a few teachers about this sentence, which was translated from Malay: Ali is smiling at her mother the minute he reached the airport.
( Ali tersenyum pada ibu atau tersenyum kepada ibu atau senyum pada ibu atau senyum kepada ibu.) –AhMoiChong
First of all, let me make your original sentence grammatical and clear. It should read: “Ali smiled at his mother the minute he reached the airport.”
“Reached” is a simple past tense verb, so “is smiling” shouldn’t be used. Another past tense verb should be used there, not a past continuous tense, because Ali’s smile began at a precise time: “ theminute he reached the airport.” So, it should be “ smiled” and not “was smiling”.
Also, I assume that the “mother” concerned is Ali’s and since Ali is male, it should be “ his mother”. I don’t know the context of your sentence, but if she is not Ali’s mother, but the mother of a girl or a woman, what you have written is correct.
Now for the translation. It should read: “Ali senyum pada ibunya sebaik sahaja ia sampai di lapangan terbang.” If you want to be more expressive, you could write: “Ali memberi senyuman kepada ibunya sebaik sahaja ia sampai di lapangan terbang.”
Swan for students
WITH reference to your answer to the question titled Is or are on Oct 6, may I know which is the latest edition of Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage? What it the full title of the book? Where can I get it please?
What is available in Malaysia is: Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, 3rd Edition, New International Student’s Edition, 2005.
This is actually not much different from Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, 3rd edition, 2005 (the regular edition).
The two editions may look different, because their covers are in different colours. Also, the paper quality is better in the regular edition, and its main entries are in a reddish orange colour.
The main difference, however, is a difference in content in section 575. The international student’s edition is five pages shorter, because in Section 575 of the regular edition, “Taboo and Swear Words” has been removed. This section is fiveand-a-half pages long. In its place in 575, we get a section called “take”, which only occupies half a page. These changes account for the five-page difference in the two editions.
I would recommend buying the student’s edition, because it is far cheaper than the regular one. The cheapest price for the regular edition I have seen on the Internet is £21.20 (RM106, offered by Amazon.co.uk), about double what we would pay here for an international student’s edition. And that doesn’t take into account the price of packaging and postage.