accustomed to <say / saying>

Sun14

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello, my friends,

I came across those explanation in a book named COMMUNICATIVE ENGLISH by Pat L.Kwan. And I guess it might be wrong:

"If 'accustomed to' followed by noun clause, then the plain infinitive is used:

e.g. Bill is accustomed to say that he is not handsome.
(That he is not handsome is a noun clause, which does the work of a noun and which, in our example, functions as the object of the verb say)."

I think his explanation contradicts itself, and the bold-faced part should be a gerund.
 
  • dipsota

    Senior Member
    Español- Buenos Aires -Argentina
    If you are accustomed to something, you have become familiar with it and you no longer find it strange. Accustomed to usually comes after linking verbs such as be, become, get, and grow.

    It did not get lighter, but I became accustomed to the dark.
    I
    am not accustomed to being interrupted.

    In conversation and in less formal writing, you don't usually say that someone is 'accustomed to' something. You say that they are used to it. Used to usually comes after be or get.


    It's very noisy here, but you'll get used to it.

    What about he always says that he is not handsome?



     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    If you are accustomed to something, you have become familiar with it and you no longer find it strange. Accustomed to usually comes after linking verbs such as be, become, get, and grow.

    It did not get lighter, but I became accustomed to the dark.
    I
    am not accustomed to being interrupted.

    In conversation and in less formal writing, you don't usually say that someone is 'accustomed to' something. You say that they are used to it. Used to usually comes after be or get.


    It's very noisy here, but you'll get used to it.

    What about he always says that he is not handsome?


    Thanks for your explanation. I guess the writer is not a native speaker. This is an case he select to tell us why accustomed to should be followed by a gerund or a noun, but it actually followed by a infinitive.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The writer seems to treat all ing-form this way. This is another example:

    Her son is agreeable to do what she says.
    (It is correct to use the plain infinitive do instead of the gerund doing because what she says is a noun clause performing the work of a noun.)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    The writer seems to treat all ing-form this way. This is another example:

    Her son is agreeable to do what she says.
    (It is correct to use the plain infinitive do instead of the gerund doing because what she says is a noun clause performing the work of a noun.)
    That book doesn't sound very reliable: "Her son is agreeable to do what she says" sounds just as odd to me as "Bill is accustomed to say that he is not handsome." I wouldn't use a bare infinitive in either of those constructions.

    They should be:
    Bill is accustomed to saying that he is not handsome.
    Her son is agreeable to doing what she says.
    :)
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That book doesn't sound very reliable: "Her son is agreeable to do what she says" sounds just as odd to me as "Bill is accustomed to say that he is not handsome." I wouldn't use a bare infinitive in either of those constructions.

    They should be:
    Bill is accustomed to saying that he is not handsome.
    Her son is agreeable to doing what she says.
    :)
    Thank you very much. Are those ing-form words gerund?
     

    dipsota

    Senior Member
    Español- Buenos Aires -Argentina
    The ing-form following be accustomed to is a gerund, not a present participle.

    Be used to has a similar meaning to be accustomed to; both can be followed by a noun, pronoun, or gerund ( a verb form that functions as a noun).

    Note that if the object involves a verb, we use the -ing form.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    The ing-form following be accustomed to is a gerund, not a present participle.

    Be used to has a similar meaning to be accustomed to; both can be followed by a noun, pronoun, or gerund ( a verb form that functions as a noun).
    I wonder why Parla doesn't take them as gerunds:rolleyes::confused:.
     

    Sun14

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The ing-form following be accustomed to is a gerund, not a present participle.

    Be used to has a similar meaning to be accustomed to; both can be followed by a noun, pronoun, or gerund ( a verb form that functions as a noun).

    Note that if the object involves a verb, we use the -ing form.
    Got it. Thank you very much.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    I wonder if I could pick this up. Most grammar sources seem to be unanimous in that "be accustomed to" is followed by -ing forms. But I've seen examples of the expression followed by to-infinitives, more specifically in Agatha Christie's books. I can't find these now, but google books offers the following (how can these be explained?):

    Hence it is that even they who compel, or who persuade, are accustomed to say, Why don't you do what you have in your ability, in order to avoid this evil? (St Augustine)

    This condition is sometimes the result of habit; for men take a pleasure in whatever they are accustomed to do and emit the semen accordingly. (Aristotle)

    Accustomed to view himself as a pariah, Fabrice was wary of trust, yet he felt there was an instinctive understanding between them. (Jasper Barry - 2013)

    We are accustomed to think of the grades of civilization in terms of the degree to which the fine arts are developed or manners are refined. (Mortimer Jerome Adler - 1995)

    Is this perhaps an older pattern that occasionally shows up?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    (Re post 15) I think you're absolutely right, Kirusha!:thumbsup:

    Here are three examples from the OED (my bolding):
    1746 Moffett & Bennet's Health's Improvem. (new ed.) xxvi. 349 Country-labourers, accustomed to feed usually upon hung Beef.
    1788 T. Reid Ess. Active Powers Man i. vii. 530 We are accustomed to call the first the cause, and the last the effect.
    1818 Byron Childe Harold: Canto IV lxi. 33 For I have been accustom'd to entwine My thoughts with nature rather in the fields Than Art in galleries.

    I have the feeling there's a difference in meaning, though.

    If I say "I'm accustomed to doing X" I mean I'm used to doing X - it's familiar to me.

    If I say (or more likely write - it is rather old-fashioned/literary) "I'm accustomed to do X" I mean It's my habit to do X.
     

    dipsota

    Senior Member
    Español- Buenos Aires -Argentina
    (Re post 15) I think you're absolutely right, Kirusha!:thumbsup:

    Here are three examples from the OED (my bolding):
    1746 Moffett & Bennet's Health's Improvem. (new ed.) xxvi. 349 Country-labourers, accustomed to feed usually upon hung Beef.
    1788 T. Reid Ess. Active Powers Man i. vii. 530 We are accustomed to call the first the cause, and the last the effect.
    1818 Byron Childe Harold: Canto IV lxi. 33 For I have been accustom'd to entwine My thoughts with nature rather in the fields Than Art in galleries.

    I have the feeling there's a difference in meaning, though.

    If I say "I'm accustomed to doing X" I mean I'm used to doing X - it's familiar to me.

    If I say (or more likely write - it is rather old-fashioned/literary) "I'm accustomed to do X" I mean It's my habit to do X.
    The use of this pattern seems to have declined over the years. As Loob said, it's old-fashioned.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    I have the feeling there's a difference in meaning, though.

    If I say "I'm accustomed to doing X" I mean I'm used to doing X - it's familiar to me.

    If I say (or more likely write - it is rather old-fashioned/literary) "I'm accustomed to do X" I mean It's my habit to do X.
    Loob, I have about two dozen million questions for you, hope I will not exhaust your patience.

    Would you ever use "be accustomed to do" yourself? Would you be much surprised if you heard somebody use it (rather than write)?

    Also, I kind of feel intuitively what you mean by the distinction above, but can't pinpoint it. I think one can utter "We have become accustomed to thinking that...", this would seem to be about habit rather than familiarity. So is there an overlap in meaning between the two constructions? Can "be accustomed to do" ever be correct when "be accustomed to doing" is not?
     

    dipsota

    Senior Member
    Español- Buenos Aires -Argentina
    In I'm accustomed/used to ... the particle to is a preposition; it is not an infinitive marker.

    I'm accustomed to (hard) work (work=noun).
    I'm accustomed to working hard.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Dipsota, this is exactly what I preach to my students, but I'm very uncomfortable around examples like the ones above. I find them very puzzling, but saying that "to" here is a preposition, unfortunately, doesn't even to begin to explain them.
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Sorry, Kirusha, I somehow missed the questions you addressed to me in post 18 - let me answer them now!
    ... Would you ever use "be accustomed to do" yourself? Would you be much surprised if you heard somebody use it (rather than write)?
    No, I wouldn't use it myself (as I see I said in the previous thread you found:).) And I would be surprised to hear it used - except, perhaps, in a Jane Austen adaptation on the TV - though I see etb found a couple of relatively modern examples in the earlier thread.
    Also, I kind of feel intuitively what you mean by the distinction above, but can't pinpoint it. I think one can utter "We have become accustomed to thinking that...", this would seem to be about habit rather than familiarity. So is there an overlap in meaning between the two constructions? Can "be accustomed to do" ever be correct when "be accustomed to doing" is not?
    Another way of looking at it is that it's like the difference between "I used to go" (= I habitually went) and "I was used to going" ("Going had no novelty value for me"): does that help?

    I've just had a look at paragraph 299.11 in Swan's Practical English Usage where, as you say, he lists be accustomed to among those verbs which "can generally be used with either an ing-form or an infinitive without much difference in meaning". I nearly always agree with Swan, but I don't think I do here: for me there is a small but definite difference in meaning, and a decided difference in usage.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much, Loob :):):). The bits and pieces are beginning to fit together. I've also reread the previous thread, and you and Wandle seem to converge on the difference between the two patterns. That's how I've got it down provisionally:

    "He's accustomed to say..." = it's part of his nature to do so (mainly bookish, with the subject predominantly denoting a group of individuals)
    "He's accustomed to saying.." = he's said it so many times that it comes automatically to him these days

    I've been dwelling on this so long now that I have developed an almost perverse liking for "accustomed to do": for we all are accustomed to view as incontrovertible that to which we are habitually exposed. :rolleyes:
     
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