come/boil down to + ing -- reduce/be reduced to +ing

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karbe

Member
Spanish Spain
Hi,

I'd like to know which of the following sentences are correct or sound more natural. The context is about the process of solving a maths problem:

a) Now the whole problem comes down to finding out the value of x
b) Now the whole problem comes down to find out the value of x
c) Now the whole problem boils down to finding out the value of x
d) Now the whole problem boils down to find out the value of x
e) Now the whole problem reduces to finding out the value of x
f) Now the whole problem reduces to find out the value of x
g) Now the whole problem is reduced to finding out the value of x
h) Now the whole problem is reduced to find out the value of x

Thank you very much.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    If you have a problem that will be resolved or made easier by finding the value of x, I would say
    "The key to the problem is to find the value of x" or possibly, "The solution boils down to finding the value of x"
    "comes down to" and "reduced" are not appropriate here.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I disagree with Franco-filly. In maths, problems are often 'reduced' to make them simpler, so it may well be appropriate here depending on what the steps were before then.

    With the simple present tense constructions you have used in (a)-(f), it is certainly 'finding' rather than 'to find'. There is very little to choose between (a), (c) and (e) in my opinion. What you are saying in each of these is that you have carried out some steps in solving the problem, as a result of which the only thing that still needs to be done is find the value of x and then the whole problem will be solved. None of these statements says anything about how you might go about finding x.

    (g) is rather awkward. As you start reading it, it seems the reduction is to take place now...till you reach 'finding' when you realise the reduction must have already happened and the actual meaning is very close to (e).

    (h) has a different meaning. Here, reducing the problem has yet to take place (you are going to do it now), and by reducing the problem you will discover the value of x.
     

    karbe

    Member
    Spanish Spain
    Thank you very much for your replies. I think Uncle Jack has understood perfectly what I meant. Now it's clearer to me. Thanks again.
     
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