the meaning of "to advance"


Senior Member
Most Native Americans didn’t understand the concept of land ownership. They did not understand its worth to advancing white settlers. By 1934, Native Americans had been cheated out of 90 million acres of land.

What exactly does " to advance " mean in "to advancing white settlers"?
I looked up a dictionary but I think I can't find the matching meaning.
Thanks in advance~
  • andy0210

    I would say advancing is Present Participle here, meaning settlers who were moving farther (in the context of the USA that would mean moving west)/ moving beyond the frontier.


    Senior Member
    Hello jnzovy,

    to advance = To go or move forward or onward.

    The white settlers were moving westwards, settling the lands gained by their victories over the Native Americans, then moving further west, etc...
    Advancing here, functions as an adjective modifying white settlers.


    Senior Member
    United States, English
    "They did not understand its worth to advancing white settlers."

    In this case to is a preposition and has nothing to do with the verb advance. The object of the preposition is settlers. white is an adjective modifying settlers. advancing is a participle used as an adjective modifying settlers.

    to settlers
    to white settlers
    to advancing white settlers.


    Forera und Moderatorin
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    I'm wondering why it is not "to the advancing white settlers". Since the settlers are clearly specified, I would use the definite article. Am I wrong?


    Senior Member
    I wouldn't use "the" here because it implies one group of advancing settlers. There were waves upon waves of different groups moving into the West. This perceived value of land applied to all of the groups, not just one. These are two classes being discussed here: Native Americans and white settlers.

    It is similar for me to:

    Adults don't understand the importance of privacy for teenagers.

    (This is about all teenagers and about the two general classifications "adults" and "teenagers".)

    Adults don't understand the importance of privacy for the teenagers.

    (This is some subset of the classification "teenagers." We are now talking about specific, identifiable individuals.)
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