Erase /erasing

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Julienjing1

Senior Member
Chinese
The greatest thing our art does and our industry does is( erase) the lines in the sand,”
Should it be either 'to erase' or ' erasing' ?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suppose you could add “to” to the infinitive, but it’s better as it stands. “Erasing” doesn’t really work.
     

    Julienjing1

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I suppose you could add “to” to the infinitive, but it’s better as it stands. “Erasing” doesn’t really work.
    I have seen examples like 'what I can do is to help the poor' Doesn't they have similar structures ?could you please tell me why 'erase ' is possible there ?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In that example as well, you can use either the full or the bare infinitive (i.e. the “to” is optional). But I still prefer the bare infinitive.
     

    Julienjing1

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Even though "to" is just one small quick word, without it the sentence is smoother and quicker, sounding and looking much more fluent and native.
    1 The only good thing he has done to his village was help build the bridge.
    2 The only thing he likes to do is watch movies.
    3 The only thing he likes is watch movies.
    I just came up with a few examples, are they correct ?Thank you.
     

    Julienjing1

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    In that example as well, you can use either the full or the bare infinitive (i.e. the “to” is optional). But I still prefer the bare infinitive.
    1 The only good thing he has done to his village was help build the bridge.
    2 The only thing he likes to do is watch movies.
    3 The only thing he likes is watch movies.
    Could you please tell me whether they are correct, thank you.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    The greatest thing our art does and our industry does is( erase) the lines in the sand,”
    Should it be either 'to erase' or ' erasing' ?
    No, unless you make it the subject:

    Erasing the lines in the sand is the greatest thing our art does and our industry does.

    Note that the transitive verb do is required to make the bare infinitive construction work. The direct object of the two doeses here is "the greatest thing". A direct object with a form of "thing" or that can be replaced with a phrase containing "thing" is also required (e.g. all = "everything", what = "the thing that", nothing).

    An example without a form of "to be":

    He does nothing all day but sit there and write stories.
    1 The only good thing he has done to his village was help build the bridge.
    2 The only thing he likes to do is watch movies.
    3 The only thing he likes is watch movies.
    Could you please tell me whether they are correct, thank you.
    I can think of several ways to say what I think you mean in example 1:

    The only good thing he has done for his village was when he helped build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is that he helped build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village was helping
    (to) build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village was to help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is to help build the bridge.

    The only good thing he has done for his village is to have helped build the bridge.


    With do, does, or did, the bare infinitive is best; wih doing, only an -ing form will do. Done can work with a bare infinitive, but I find that awkward.

    Example 2 is fine.

    Example 3, with no form of transitive do, does not work.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Those examples would read much better if the tenses matched:

    The only good thing he did for his village was help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is help build the bridge.
     

    Julienjing1

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No, unless you make it the subject:

    Erasing the lines in the sand is the greatest thing our art does and our industry does.

    Note that the transitive verb do is required to make the bare infinitive construction work. The direct object of the two doeses here is "the greatest thing". A direct object with a form of "thing" or that can be replaced with a phrase containing "thing" is also required (e.g. all = "everything", what = "the thing that", nothing).

    An example without a form of "to be":

    He does nothing all day but sit there and write stories.

    I can think of several ways to say what I think you mean in example 1:

    The only good thing he has done for his village was when he helped build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is that he helped build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village was helping
    (to) build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village was to help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is to help build the bridge.

    The only good thing he has done for his village is to have helped build the bridge.


    With do, does, or did, the bare infinitive is best; wih doing, only an -ing form will do. Done can work with a bare infinitive, but I find that awkward.

    Example 2 is fine.

    Example 3, with no form of transitive do, does not work.
    Thank you so much for your explanations.
    I see the tenses in these examples are different, and I find it confusing. Shouldn't 'is' work with 'done'?
    The only good thing he has done for his village was to help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is to help build the bridge.
     

    Julienjing1

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Those examples would read much better if the tenses matched:

    The only good thing he did for his village was help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is help build the bridge
    So past tense doesn't work with present perfect here ? And I can't use 'was' here.

    I have across a sentence on the Internet.(It seems right now that all I've ever done in my life is making my way here to you.) Is it wrong ? Would it better if it was 'make'?
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If you want to speak good English, then it would be wise to follow standard practice, which is to match tenses in sentences such as those.

    In your new example, yes, make would be much more idiomatic than making.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Thank you so much for your explanations.
    I see the tenses in these examples are different, and I find it confusing. Shouldn't 'is' work with 'done'?
    The only good thing he has done for his village was to help build the bridge.
    The only good thing he has done for his village is to help build the bridge.
    Is works here because of has (both present tense).

    Two times are implicit in the context: the one time he did a good thing, and now, when he has done only that one good thing.

    That one thing was the only good thing he did, and it still is the only good thing he has done because he has not done anything good since then.

    He hasn't done anything good except for one time: that time when he helped build the bridge.

    Logically, building the bridge was doing something, but having built the bridge is not doing anything, so I find the following sentence B more logical than A:

    A. The only good thing he has done is that/when he has helped build the bridge.
    B. The only good thing he has done is that/when he helped build the bridge.

    And was can work because it agrees with helped:

    C. The only good thing he has done was that/when he helped build the bridge.

    Using when makes the purpose for was clearer, but using that does not make was wrong.

    If we remove the tense from helped by replacing that he helped with to help, was has the additional purpose of supplying the correct implicit time to the infinitive, to avoid "to have helped", which works in its way but, like sentence A, is less logical.
     

    Julienjing1

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Is works here because of has (both present tense).

    Two times are implicit in the context: the one time he did a good thing, and now, when he has done only that one good thing.

    That one thing was the only good thing he did, and it still is the only good thing he has done because he has not done anything good since then.

    He hasn't done anything good except for one time: that time when he helped build the bridge.

    Logically, building the bridge was doing something, but having built the bridge is not doing anything, so I find the following sentence B more logical than A:

    A. The only good thing he has done is that/when he has helped build the bridge.
    B. The only good thing he has done is that/when he helped build the bridge.

    And was can work because it agrees with helped:

    C. The only good thing he has done was that/when he helped build the bridge.

    Using when makes the purpose for was clearer, but using that does not make was wrong.

    If we remove the tense from helped by replacing that he helped with to help, was has the additional purpose of supplying the correct implicit time to the infinitive, to avoid "to have helped", which works in its way but, like sentence A, is less logical.
    So what you are saying is that 2 is more logical than 1?
    1.The only good thing he has done for his village is to have helped build the bridge.
    2.The only good thing he has done for his village is help build the bridge.
     
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