1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Infinitive or preposition? Noun or verb?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rumwriter, Jun 13, 2014.

    So...this is really a pointless question, but I really want to hear people's thoughts:

    A sentence like, "I'm going to lunch with my mother."

    I always took the "to" in this instance as an independent preposition, and "lunch" is a noun, such as "I'm going to the store."

    But it dawned on me that perhaps "to" is being linked with "lunch" in this instance, to form an infinitive verb "to lunch," such as "I am going to buy a cat." (Yes, "to lunch" is a verb.)

    So it really doesn't matter, I know, but I want to know how it is generally thought of.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Interesting. I had never thought of this before. You actually could be right about it being an infinitive. I'm trying to think of counter-examples but can't at the moment.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That may well be the source syntax, but it has clearly shifted since modern English gives little support to the different meals of the day as verbs. I too naturally feel the preposition+noun structure in the syntax. Other languages, like Spanish, still have a strong syntax tradition of giving each meal of the day its own verb form. Dine is perhaps the last of this group that still feels relevant as a verb to me in English. Sup is the least relevant. Breakfast has eroded quite a bit since its origin as breaking fast, having become a compound word completely subordinating the verb side in deference to noun-dom.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that it depends entirely on the intent of the speaker--that without knowing the intent, you can't answer the question either way.

    Grabbing Wreybies’ suggestion of “dine”, I think that for the vast majority of American speakers, the following three statements have the same “noun” use:

    I’m going to the store with my mother.
    I’m going to dinner with my mother.
    I’m going to lunch with my mother.

    But there is nothing grammatically incorrect in the following alternative triplet, with the “verb” use:

    I’m going to clean the house with my mother.
    I’m going to dine with my mother.
    I’m going to lunch with my mother.

    But the second and third statement have an archaic feel. When the verb use is wanted, I think that most Americans would instead say:

    I’m going to have dinner with my mother.
    I’m going to have lunch with my mother.

    (Or

    I’m going to go to lunch with my mother.
    I’m going to eat lunch with my mother.)
     
  5. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I think 'to lunch' would only be considered a verb in the US.

    The habit of turning nouns into verbs is particularly strong in the US, and much less so elsewhere.

    For example, architect. In the US, you could 'architect a solution', but this would be considered odd elsewhere.

    Personally, I would avoid trying to force 'lunch' into the role of a verb.
     

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