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The question concerned the difference between for and to in terms of a guiding principle:

Original question on ELL

The moderator posted this under the question:

"There are several rules that determine when each is OK. Following those rules, you would determine that both for earning and to earn fit the context. It's beyond the scope of this site to explain what all the rules are [bolding mine], but if you like I can explain what the rules for this example are. If you're looking for a "silver bullet" rule that answers the question every time, there isn't one".

[The comment above is shocking to me.]

The mod also posted this under my answer:

"The OP is looking for a guiding principle to choose between them. I don't see one in your answer. Is there one that I'm missing? The OP's question is about two different forms of a verb, so noun examples don't apply at all." –

To which I replied:

"I am a little tired of your comments which miss the point. The point is 1) there is no principle per se 2) there is a grammatical difference 3) to and for are not always interchangeable. Also, he says: are they both OK? And I say yes, they are if the meaning is "for the purpose of". Your comment under the question is really poor. "It's beyond the scope of this site to explain what all the rules are, but if you like [...] Are you looking to have this brought up on Meta? All grammar rules are within the scope of this site".

[sigh]


It is often the case that OPs will ask a question that requires reworking or rewording or is slightly off. In this case, I think I dealt with the question by examining the grammar difference between to and for in the given context.

Personally, I think the mod was wrong about the comment on my answer and his comment under the question.

I feel harassed. I also feel like a goodie-goodie who always tries to do the "right thing" and that the "teacher" is rapping my knuckles with a ruler. It's really too much and this is not the first time.

Here are the two sentences from the OP:
A university diploma is not needed for earning high profits trading cryptocurrencies.

A university diploma is not needed to earn high profits trading cryptocurrencies.

As for that moderator saying: "The OP's question is about two different forms of a verb, so noun examples don't apply at all" [sigh]. Obviously, "earning" is part of a gerund noun phrase in earning high profits trading cryptocurrencies.

PROOF: Earning high profits trading cryptocurrencies is not an easy task. The phrase in italics is a noun phrase acting as the subject of the sentence.

A gerund is a verbal ending in -ing used as a noun.

A university diploma is not needed for earning high profits trading cryptocurrencies.

NOTE: earning high profits trading cryptocurrencies is a gerund phrase used as a noun. My answer on the question went into this in detail.

But it seems that knowing grammar is not required by comment posters.

2 Answers 2

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Lambie,

I'm sorry to hear you took any of my comments on your answer that badly. As is common with online communication, you've misunderstood my intent. I was asking clarification questions which I hoped would help me (and possibly others) understand your answer, or help you improve it. Since you don't like these kinds of comments from me, I'll stop.

I have to say that I'm confused why you believed I was claiming that explaining grammar rules is beyond the scope of this site, rather than thinking I had worded it wrong or you'd misunderstood. After you commented on your reading of my comment, I reworded it to hopefully make my intent clearer and told you I had done so. Why not flag it, at least as a first step?

Since you've brought this to Meta, if there's any action you think the site should take about that comment, please suggest it and of course I'll recuse myself from that decision.

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  • No, you were telling me how to answer the question by telling me to address the issue of some principle or other, by telling me how to start my answer and how it did not concern nouns. for example. I resent that because I was trying to be diplomatic vis-à-vis the OP and just addressing the main and only grammar point which is the structural difference (verb versus noun) between the two and that both can mean for the purpose of.
    – Lambie
    Nov 13, 2022 at 21:09
  • This, to an OP reads really badly: "There are several rules that determine when each is OK. Following those rules, you would determine that both for earning and to earn fit the context. It's beyond the scope of this site to explain what all the rules are, but if you like I can explain what the rules for this example are. If you're looking for a "silver bullet" rule that answers the question every time, there isn't one".//That is incredibly confusing and inaccurate. There is one basic structural difference, only one, between the two and they can mean the same thing (for the purpose of).
    – Lambie
    Nov 13, 2022 at 21:13
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    @Lambie That's what my comment used to say. I reworded it days ago and I've informed of that you twice. I think it is clear and accurate as it stands, and no harm to anyone. Nobody else so far has agreed with your assessment, so I'm not going to debate it with you in Meta, especially as neither of us seems to understand what the other says.
    – gotube Mod
    Nov 13, 2022 at 22:01
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Explaining all the rules (including rules of thumb) that govern a major area of grammar or usage in a single ELL answer would generally be over the top. I don't find that shocking. Any given answer must select a relevant set of principles and examples to try to explain the issue at hand. The concept that the presence or absence of a verb after the preposition controls or at least influences the choice of preposition is IMO a useful one. This principle is present in your answer, but I think could have been stressed more. But Gotube's comment on your answer seems to miss this stated principle, which was an error, in my view.

The tone of the comment exchange in the question was unfortunate. I am glad that you brought this to Meta.

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  • David, who said anything at all about "all the rules" about anything? Basically, all we do do on ELL is explain grammar and meanings. "The concept that the presence or absence of a verb after the preposition controls or at least influences the choice of preposition is IMO a useful one." That was not my point or even the point of my answer. My answer examined the difference in grammar between two and in meaning and what that can mean, but does not always mean.
    – Lambie
    Nov 9, 2022 at 22:10
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    @Lambie The part of the comment which you bolded when quoting it here reads: "It's beyond the scope of this site to explain what all the rules are". The actual comment read: "It's too much to ask for us to give all the rules governing gerund and infinitive choice in one answer,..." Both versions mention "all the rules" Gotube's says "beyond the scope of one answer" not "of the site. And if the point about the verb was not the point of your answer, I misread it, and should perhaps post an answer of my own, tomorrow. Nov 9, 2022 at 22:19
  • "There are several rules that determine when each is OK. Following those rules, you would determine that both for earning and to earn fit the context. It's beyond the scope of this site to explain what all the rules are [bolding mine], but if you like I can explain what the rules for this example are. //Several rules? No, there is basically one contrastive grammatical feature (to-infinitive versus gerund noun) which makes the difference between the two.
    – Lambie
    Nov 10, 2022 at 15:35
  • In fact, this difference does not constitute a rule or rules. And, in any case, even if you call that "a rule", it is certainly not "beyond the scope of this site" to explain what it is. I repeat: The site is all about explaining grammar, grammatical form, features and "rules". So the mod's comment is completely misleading to posters. And the difference between them is only a single difference.
    – Lambie
    Nov 10, 2022 at 15:41
  • David, what a bust for me. He did say "beyond the scope of this site". I suggest you go and read his comments under the ELL question. They are unreasonable, unfair and inaccurate. I see no one wants to tackle this Meta question from me besides you. Well, that tells me something. You mention the tone of the exchange. Well, at some point one has to call it as one sees it.
    – Lambie
    Nov 12, 2022 at 18:39
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    @Lambie And sometimes the tone makes it more difficult for people to hear the point being made, which is frustrating, and that makes things less friendly, which makes communicating harder, which increases the frustration…
    – ColleenV
    Nov 13, 2022 at 2:55
  • @ColleenV I see nothing wrong with the tone of my question. The comment shock me and I found it shocking. I cannot sugarcoat that. Sorry.
    – Lambie
    Nov 13, 2022 at 16:44

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