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A to-infinitive and A present participle.

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A to-infinitive and A present participle.

Postby pdh0224 » Tue Aug 10, 2004 11:21 pm

Dear teacher,

Sanders was the first N.F.L. player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in 10 consecutive seasons, and the only player to do it in his first 10 seasons. He is the only player to rush for more than 100 yards in 14 consecutive games, and he remains the only player to record five 1,500-yard rushing seasons.


Q : There are four "to-infinitive phrases". I think "present participle" is more correct because these events "to rush.." , "to do.." and "to record.." are actualized.
As you know, the main difference between "to" and "present participle" is actualization or not. When an occasion actualized, "present participle" need to be used.

What do you think?


All the best, :)
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Postby Alan » Wed Aug 11, 2004 4:53 am

Generally, yes, but not in this case. After such expressions as 'the only/first/next/last NP' , the infinitive is the standard form, irrespective of actualization.

Thus, both

[1] He was the first man TO SET foot on the moon.

and

[1a] He would be the first man TO SET foot on the moon.

would be correct.

The reason for this is that, while infinitives frequently complement a foregoing phrase (as here, specifying in respect of what event he was first, last or whatever), participles normally only modify. Thus, while 'the first/... NP' might be followed by a participle, it would only be in a sentence such as

[2] I watched the first man SETTING foot on the moon.

meaning simply

[2a] I watched the first man AS HE SET foot on the moon.

'the first man' in question being simply, e.g., the first man that stepped out of the rocket. [2], however, unlike [1], tells us nothing as to whether other men have done this before him!
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Postby pdh0224 » Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:15 pm

You said,

[2] I watched the first man SETTING foot on the moon.

meaning simply

[2a] I watched the first man AS HE SET foot on the moon.

***********************************************

Q : Is the meaning of [2a] same with "I watched the first man when he set foot on the moon? or Does the clause "As he.." modifies "man"?



All the best, :)
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Postby Alan » Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:47 am

It's adverbial, of course (= 'when...'), but, despite the obvious structural difference, the overall meaning of the two sentences is the same (and clearly distinct from 'the first man to set...').
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