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To work / Working for> an organisation like this

Discussion in 'English Only' started by luitzen, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. luitzen Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    I'm proofreading a report for my sister and I'm wondering about the following sentence:

    "To work for an organisation like this has always interested me."

    She's not working for the organisation, but she has always thought that it would be interesting to do so. I think "Working" should be used when she actually works for that organisation and talks about why she chose to do so while "To work" is more appropriate when she is merely contemplating to do so. Am I correct?
     
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    To quote the line from an old joke, "If I were you I would not have started out from there.":) If you rephrase, which is the only way of saving it, you will have: "I have always been interested in working for an organisation like this/yours." - I think this gives the idea that "working" is the better choice.

    For what it's worth "has always interested me" has implications of "has always aroused my curiosity" e.g. "It has always interested me how you can appear intelligent yet do such foolish things."
     
  3. luitzen Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    What's wrong with: "I've always been interested to work for an organisation like this?"
     
  4. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Perfect! But you don't have to rule out to work. You could say:

    I've always wanted to work for an organization like yours
    .

    I think the take-home message in both my and Paul's rewrites is that it is more natural in English to put this in active voice. That means you start with I have always wanted or I have always been interested. In other languages (which we can't discuss in detail here but I think it's okay to mention it generally), starting with I too often may be considered poor writing or egotistical. In AE, at least, not so much. You don't want I at the top of every sentence, but overall you don't want to weaken your writing by putting it in passive voice.

    Once you've decided on active voice, you have the choice of I have always wanted or I have always been interested in. The first option pairs grammatically with to work and the second with working.
     
  5. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    To consider the original wording, there may be a slight difference between the two, and I agree the difference seems to be as you describe it, but is delicately balanced. There would be no particular difference with near rewordings:

    To work for this organization would be interesting. [least likely because we prefer the 'it' version below]
    Working for this organization would be interesting.
    It would be interesting to work for this organization.
    It would be interesting working for this organization.

    It gives me satisfaction to work for this organization.
    It gives me satisfaction working for this organization.

    As you see, I've included both hypothetical and actual situations. There is something slightly odd about your original sentence, so it's a little harder to get intuitions about it.
     
  6. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    The short answer is because it's not the way a native speaker would say it. To try to break down the reasons, there are several. First, interested is usually (but not always) is followed by the preposition in, not to. I'm interested in the history of France. Another reason, somewhat related, is that if interested is followed by a verb form it is usually the gerund. I'm interested in seeing that movie!

    There definitely are exceptions, many of which begin with I would be interested to know or to see. For example: I would be interested to know how much money she has.

    Your sentence above is odd and unnatural in AE.
     
  7. luitzen Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    To clarify things: it's about an aid organization and she thinks it is of the type that she always considered to be interesting. Now I don't really think it matters much for my sister's report (I don't want to correct every tiny detail) since a very advanced knowledge of English is not expected from here. However, I think I can learn something from this myself. I've thought a little bit about it and I think a better way to formulate the sentence would maybe be something like this: "I have always been attracted to work for an organization like this".
     
  8. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    That works if you tweak a bit:

    I've always been attracted to the idea of working for an organization like y​ours.

    In general, you are attracted to a noun.
     
  9. luitzen Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    I really like that version, thank you.

    On the other hand, I thought that the whole idea of the gerund and supine is that they function like nouns.
     
  10. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    Well, I approach my own language from a position of fluency--it sounds right or it doesn't--rather than grammar. But to try to help with the question, first of all, what's weird in your sentence is that attracted takes the preposition to. And the infinitive is to work. So what are you going to say I've always been attracted to to work for an organization like yours?

    You could use the gerund working as a noun like this:

    I've always been attracted to working for an organization like yours.

    That's grammatically correct. The reason I added the idea of is logic. You're attracted to the idea of it. That's really what you are saying, so reads better to me to say so precisely.
     
  11. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, lui.
    For what it's worth I agree with all of the preceding posts.
    What I find strange, on the other hand, is your mention of the supine - the verb form to which Latin has accustomed us.
    Would you be kind enough to enlighten me on the presence of a supine in the sentence you wrote and in our foreros' alternatives?
    GS :)
     
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I think there are, Giorgio, or have been, English grammarians, using the word supine to describe the to-infinitive deployed as a noun as in 'To work for an organisation...'

    I don't think Luitzen's use of the word is very unusual.
     
  13. luitzen Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    I'm not sure I understand your question, but I thought that the to-form of a verb was called a supine. In Dutch we use (om) te + infinitive and in Frisian either (om) te + "target form" of the infinitive or en + imperative. I have it from here: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sjabloon:Tabel_wijs_en_werkwoord

    Maybe this is out of the scope of the topic, but I'd really love to learn this since I'm highly interested in language and I like to discover the similarities between languages.
     
  14. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, lui & Thomas.
    My fault, evidently. This is the first time I've heard the word in connection with the English to- infinitive.
    GS :)
     
  15. Embonpoint Senior Member

    Boston
    English--American
    I understood what you meant by supine since I heard it somewhere a long time ago, but the term I use is infinitive. In the English grammar books I used in school, the "to" form ie. to work are called the infinitive. I suspect that more people on the fora will understand if you use that terminology.
     
  16. luitzen Senior Member

    Netherlands
    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    That's how I learned it as well, but when you dig a little deeper you can see that an infinitive can have different functions (I can't read vs. To err is human) and in English some of it's functions have been taken over by the ing-form (which also exists in Dutch, but isn't nearly as productive) which is also the reason why it incorrectly became to be referred to as gerund.
    While we now have one single infinitive (or two, if you consider the to-form as a separate one) in the past the infinitive could also be inflected for case and gender (though I'm not sure how elaborate this was in Germanic languages, but in Latin the system was actually quite elaborate). As a result, Frisian still has 2 different infinitives (or 3 if you consider the to-form) and there's also a distinction between the "whole verb" and the infinitive (of which there are two), while this distinction doesn't exist in Dutch (except for maybe the verb to be) and probably not in German either.
     
  17. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo, lui.
    My impression is that we ought to keep in mind that a grammatical "structure" - say, the infinitive - may have different functions, and the two should not be confused. If we take the word "knew" for example, we may be tempted to call it the Simple Past Tense of "know", but given a moment of reflection we realize that that "form" can be used to represent a virtual notion (eg, "If I knew Russian, I'd find a better job"). Therefore we need an umbrella term for the "structure" to account for all the actual functions: "Preterite, especially for English and other Germanic languages, might be in order, also in consideration of the absence -in the aforementioned languages - of a synthetic Imperfect.

    Best
    GS
     

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