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Someone told me that this phrase is grammatically incorrect, but I do not understand why?

XYZ is a fellowship of adults sharing a devotion to encourage students.

closed as off-topic by MetaEd, tchrist, Kristina Lopez, TrevorD, p.s.w.g Sep 6 '13 at 20:57

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    Welcome, but I think this question is better suited to our sister site, English Language Learners.SE. – choster Sep 6 '13 at 3:50
  • oh ok, feel free to transfer it if you deem it better – AimForClarity Sep 6 '13 at 4:39
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    You are for sure not the only one using it books.google.com/ngrams/… - I also do not see why it cannot be answered here. In my opinion it is not really an English Learner question since the expression seems to be in general use – mplungjan Sep 6 '13 at 5:54
  • I don't see anything wrong with this usage either. I suspect they are implying that you cannot 'share' a personal feeling? Not sure. – user49727 Sep 6 '13 at 7:46
  • I'd say you need a noun phrase as the object of to; something like "devotion to the encouragement of students" or "devotion to encouraging students". – Hellion Sep 6 '13 at 14:49
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It's not ungrammatical in itself, but there is a subtle shift in meaning if a different verb form is used. The sentence as stated probably doesn't mean what is intended.

Consider

  • XYZ is a fellowship of adults sharing a devotion to encourage students
  • XYZ is a fellowship of adults sharing a devotion to encouraging students

The first indicates that the students are encouraged because the adults share an [unspecified] devotion. The second indicates that the object of the devotion is the students' encouragement.

I suspect that the second sense is what is intended. For that, the verb form is wrong: it needs to be a gerund. A devotion is to a noun of some sort.

  • yes the second meaning is the intended one. However, 'adults sharing a devotion to encouraging students' sounds funny to me, should it say something like 'adults sharing a devotion toward encouraging students.' In the last sentence I replaced to with toward. but I am not sure that is the best word to use. – AimForClarity Sep 9 '13 at 17:31
  • No, a devotion is to a noun of some sort. – Andrew Leach Sep 9 '13 at 18:25

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