means nothing but acquiescing or acquiesce?

mcmay

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, friends! Today, one of my students came up to me with a question, as follows: what form of the verb 'acquiesce' should be filled in the parentheses in the sentence below: 'To impose puny fines on these slight violations of law means nothing but ( ) in crimes?' Should it be 'acquiescing' or 'acquiese'? Or both are acceptable or neither is ok? Please help me. Thank you!
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This sentence needs either "acquiescing" or "to acquiesce", McMay. "Acquiesce" by itself doesn't work in that sentence.
     

    mcmay

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    This sentence needs either "acquiescing" or "to acquiesce", McMay. "Acquiesce" by itself doesn't work in that sentence.
    Thank you, owlman5, for your clarification.

    I think that to be consistent to the form of the subject of the sentence which is an infinitive, the verb after 'nothing but' had better be of the similiar structure. So maybe the infinitive of the verb 'acquiese', i.e., 'to acquiese' is a better choice than the -ing form, i.e., 'acquiescing'.

    As to whether the word 'acquiese' is suitable to be used in the sentence, I'm not quite sure. And I wonder why you pointed out that the word itself doesn't work in that sentence. Would you please tell me why?

    Thank you again.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    When you use "...means nothing but...", the phrase that follows "but" is working as an independent subject. When we use verbs as subjects, we generally always use either the gerund "acquiescing" or a "to infinitive": "to acquiesce". "Acquiesce" by itself doesn't work. Here are some similar examples:

    To read is a fine thing.
    Reading is a fine thing.

    Read is a fine thing??? We need either "reading" or "to read" here. I applied the same principle to your example.

    'To impose puny fines on these slight violations of law means nothing but to acquiesce/acquiescing in crimes'
     

    mcmay

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, owlman5. After this more detailed explanation of yours, I think that I'm now totally clear about that question.
    I think I must have misunderstood your remarks "'Acquiesce' by itself doesn't work in that sentence. " in your first reply above. I interpreted this sentence as the word 'acquiesce' does work in that sentence semantically or stylistically. I didn't understand the phrase 'acquiesce by itself' as 'acquiesce alone', which is more likely to be what you'd meant by 'acquiesce by itself'.
    Thank you again, owlman5, for your patient help.
     
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