Accustomed to defending <vs> Accustomed to defend

anmiuk

New Member
Spanish - Spain
The other day one British professor said "you are not accustomed to defending your thesis" It struck me for two reasons: first, I would have used "accustomed to defend" and secondly because it is not the first time I listen to this kind of constructions and I still don't know when exactly must be used and how. Can someone explain it to me?

Thanks!
 
  • Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    When a verb follows "accustomed to", it is a gerund ("-ing") much more frequently than the bare infinitive.
    (I say "bare infinitive" because I presume the "to" belongs to "accustomed", and not to the following verb.)
    I consulted the C.O.C.A. corpus about this.
    I entered the search string "accustomed to [v*]", in which "[v*]" is the symbol for any verb. This search produced 1,231 instances.
    Then I used the symbol " [v?g*]" to refer only to verbs with "-ing", and got 1,190 examples.
    That makes the gerund 97% of the cases.
    I don't think there is a difference in meaning.
     

    anmiuk

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    So, for you, for example, there is no difference between saying one or the other?

    I should clarify that I ask about this example but I doubt because I've seen this in more situations. I don't remember the exact phrases but It happened to me to think "why -ing?"

    Thanks, Cenzontle ;)
     

    anmiuk

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    But the question is, why? Grammatically, why does it has to be a gerund? Because it follows a preposition? The sentence was so rare for me that I thought there might be a difficult answer but probably is easier than I thought. Anyway, I wonder why it is or has to be gerund and not "defend" which sounds good to me. Maybe the problem is in me!! :D
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    My intuition is like JustKate's: The form with "-ing" sounds normal to me, and the bare infinitive sounds strange.
    I was surprised to see the following examples in the corpus:
    "the [...] chair in which I was accustomed to think long thoughts"
    "We are accustomed to think that now we are in possession [...of...]"
    (But also I might not have noticed these as strange in reading, if I had not been focused on the difference.)
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I'm hoping someone else can come up with a grammatical reason for you, Anmiuk, 'cause I don't have anything. I would just never purposely say or write "are accustomed to defend."

    Regarding Cenzontle's examples, "I was accustomed to think" sounds fine to me because it's in the past tense (at least I think that's why it's fine), but "We are accustomed to think" does not - my editorial ear screams "No! It should be 'We are accustomed to thinking'!"
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You are accustomed to a thing - to a noun.
    I am accustomed to the British weather, I am accustomed to courtesy. If the thing is an activity, it should be the gerund. I am accustomed to hearing "accustomed to" being followed by a gerund, and hearing a bare infinitive grates.
     

    anmiuk

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Despite not having the actual grammar rules, your examples made it clear for me guys :) Thank you for your answers
     
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