agree to become/becoming

Frajola

Senior Member
Braz Portuguese
Hello all!

I came across both forms 'agree to become' and 'agree to becoming' in this document.

I have always thought that 'agree to become' was the right form. Now I'm not sure anymore. Could anyone please set the record straight for me?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Frajola

    Senior Member
    Braz Portuguese
    Both are correct. They have slightly different connotations. What is your sentence?
    Thanks for answering!

    The sentence below was lifted out of an essay about the reasons to be a mentor at an organization, this is the context:

    Many benefits can be in store for those who agree to becoming mentors.

    Thanks again!
     

    audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello,

    I
    've googled the phrase I agree to becoming, and it turns out it's used when referring to members or other offcial positons in the main.


     

    Avignonais

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, Anglophone
    Frajola, In your example about mentors, I would use "become". However, if I made an oath statement like audiolaik is talking about, I would say: "I hereby agree to becoming a mentor to these children" (Not a real situation, I realize).
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Frajola, In your example about mentors, I would use "become". However, if I made an oath statement like audiolaik is talking about, I would say: "I hereby agree to becoming a mentor to these children" (Not a real situation, I realize).
    ?:confused:

    You've agreed to become a mentor. Your oath is "I hereby swear to become a mentor to these children".

    In fact, what you are doing is agreeing to becoming their mentor.

    Am I out to lunch?
     

    Avignonais

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, Anglophone
    I see. You're right. I think the "hereby" changes things.
    "I hereby swear to become a mentor to these children"
    But
    "I agree to becoming a mentor to the children when I get there"
    No?
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I see. You're right. I think the "hereby" changes things.
    "I hereby swear to become a mentor to these children"
    But
    "I agree to becoming a mentor to the children when I get there"
    No?
    No, that still doesn't work for me. It's not the "hereby". You could remove that word and your sentence would still sound wrong to me ("I swear to becoming a mentor").

    It's the "becoming" that bothers me. If you were taking a lengthy training course and learning to become a mentor, I would say "I'm becoming a mentor". It's the same as any other process... you would say "I'm going to medical school with the aim of "becoming" a doctor". You will become a doctor at the end of your schooling but, in the process, you are "becoming" a doctor.

    Unless there is some intermediate process where you are "becoming" a mentor, once you get there, you would say "I agreed to become their mentor"
     

    Avignonais

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, Anglophone
    "I agree to becoming" may not be as common as the infinitive form, but it is not wrong.
    Here's one response I found (from bbc.co.uk's learning English site's grammar section):
    "agree - agree to
    There is a complication in your example... where both the -ing form and the to-inifnitive pattern appear possible:

    The complication arises because there are two different forms of pretty much the same verb, agree and agree to. If we are using the phrasal verb, agree to, the -ing pattern is more likely. If we are using the non-phrasal verb, agree, the to-infinitive pattern is imperative. Compare the following:
    • What have you agreed?
      We've agreed to tidy our rooms when we get up, to clear the dishes from the table after eating and not to go out until we've finished our homework.
    • What have you agreed to?
      We've agreed to arriving punctually before the working day begins and to not leaving before five o' clock in the afternoon."
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    "I agree to becoming" may not be as common as the infinitive form, but it is not wrong.
    Here's one response I found (from bbc.co.uk's learning English site's grammar section):
    "agree - agree to
    There is a complication in your example... where both the -ing form and the to-inifnitive pattern appear possible:

    The complication arises because there are two different forms of pretty much the same verb, agree and agree to. If we are using the phrasal verb, agree to, the -ing pattern is more likely. If we are using the non-phrasal verb, agree, the to-infinitive pattern is imperative. Compare the following:
    • What have you agreed?
      We've agreed to tidy our rooms when we get up, to clear the dishes from the table after eating and not to go out until we've finished our homework.
    • What have you agreed to?
      We've agreed to arriving punctually before the working day begins and to not leaving before five o' clock in the afternoon."
    As you likely know, I'm unable to refer to the grammatical terms and rules. I would, however, disagree with the "agree/agreed to" theory simply because I wouldn't use the terms you have. I would never say "What have you agreed?". In this context, I would always say "What have you agreed to?". In fact, your response sentences both use "agreed to".

    If I did use the format of your first question ("agreed"), my answer would be:

    "We have agreed that we will tidy our rooms,..."

    Your second sentence ("What have you agreed to?") lends itself to "We have agreed to arrive..." "We have agreed to arriving" still doesn't work for me. I guess we'll have to agree to disagreeing.???
     

    Avignonais

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, Anglophone
    I think you are right that "agree to become" is a lot more prevalent, and that "agree that we will" is another common construction (you didn't mention "agree on becoming"-- also more common than the one in question). I was just quoting the BBC's English teachers to say that "agree to becoming" is not incorrect. In my web search, I found many ESL grammarians flatly advising to use "agree to" with the infinitive form only. Yet, that is a simplification designed to help ESL teachers. "Agree to becoming" can be used, and the quotation explains why. On the other hand, like you, in most instances, I would use "agree to infinitive".
    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree
    Yes: We will "agree to disagree" :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I have some sympathy with the agree/ agree to distinction set out by Avignonais. This suggests a distinction between a relatively active agree and a relatively passive agree to.

    I agree to become ...
    I will be actively involved in the process and will take responsibility for making sure it happens.

    I agree to becoming ...
    I will not be actively involved in the process but I accept that it should happen.

    Let me try another example that emphasises the difference between agree and agree to.
    We have agreed the terms of the contract.
    - we discussed, negotiated, changed and eventually agreed the contract.
    We have agreed to the terms of the contract.
    - we read the contract and decided to accept it.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I have some sympathy with the agree/ agree to distinction set out by Avignonais. This suggests a distinction between a relatively active agree and a relatively passive agree to.

    I agree to become ...
    I will be actively involved in the process and will take responsibility for making sure it happens.

    I agree to becoming ...
    I will not be actively involved in the process but I accept that it should happen.
    As I think has been discussed in other threads, Panj, the term "agreed the contract" is foreign to my world. As a result, there is only "agreed to the terms of the contract" (or some would use "agreed on the terms of the contract").

    Based on your explanation of the differences as you see them, does that not confirm what I was saying about Avignonais' original sentence which was:

    "I agree to becoming a mentor to the children when I get there"

    He has even specified a point in time. In fact, our hypothetical mentor even swore to it!;) To me, this is the active role to which you refer and seems to perfectly suit your definition of "I agree to become..."

    Ah, it's late and I'm probably babbling. I agree to coming back in the morning and seeing whether there's any follow-up.:)
     

    Ynez

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Frajola, the difference grammatically is like this:

    I agree to become... (to become = infinitive)
    I agree to becoming... ( to = preposition, becoming = -ing form, like always after a preposition)

    Both grammatically correct.

    The second sentence could be compared with:

    I agree with becoming...

    Then, there is something called typical/idiomatic use, and that's something I can't tell you but we could get some idea from the conversation above :)
     

    Avignonais

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, Anglophone
    Thank you panjandrum and Ynez; this is a hard one to explain. Your explanations help make the case for accepting the use of the gerund with the "to" preposition.

    "... I accept that it should happen" is the sense I had in mind in the sentence "I agree to becoming a mentor when I get there" -- an acceptance of this condition.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with Avignonais, Ynez and panj.

    I'd say "agree to" + gerund does have a (slighty) weaker/more passive meaning than "agree" + infinitive. So "I agree to becoming a mentor" is closer to "I accept the idea of becoming a mentor".

    This previous thread might be helpful, although it's discussing "agree to" with an ordinary noun rather than a gerund.
     
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