I am not a native english speaker and I wonder whether the two following expression are valid:

It will lead to obtain [something].
It will lead to the obtaining of [something].

If both are valid, are they completely equivalent? If not what is the subtlety?

  • This question is probably better suited to English Language Learners. And have you checked examples on the internet? "will lead to obtain" and "will lead to the obtaining of" Actually, the results are misleading, as there are many hits for "will lead to obtain" – which is ungrammatical. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 12 '13 at 23:06
  • Neither one is good. Lead does not take an infinitive. Obtain is a verb, so what's its subject? Who's going to be obtaining what? And why not just This will lead to [something]? What's special about obtaining if it doesn't matter who obtains it? – John Lawler Oct 12 '13 at 23:12
  • I'd say the acquisition of rather than the obtaining of. The gerund obtaining is only weakly noun-like, and it's better to have a real noun here. The gerund finding is more strongly noun-like, so "it will lead to the finding of [something]" is fine. (What is this distinction between weakly and strongly noun-like gerunds? It's come up here before, and while I know what sounds right, I don't think I've ever seen it formally treated.) – Peter Shor Oct 13 '13 at 0:21
  • 1. Will lead to the obtaining of occurs 2,540 times in Google Books. There naturally are countless other instances of the structure in the writings of respectable authors. – Kris Oct 13 '13 at 11:36
  • 2. I do not see this as a question about the word obtain at all, but about the appropriate POS and sentence structure. – Kris Oct 13 '13 at 11:38

The second one is correct. Whilst lead does not take an infinitive, your second example does not contain any infinitive. 'The obtaining of...' involves the use of the verb (obtain) as a gerund i.e. a noun formed from a verb.

  • I'd say "the acquisition of" rather than "the obtaining of". – Peter Shor Oct 13 '13 at 0:20
  • @Peter Shor. Well, 'acquire' and 'obtain' are two different words with different shades of meaning. Why use one rather than the other? – WS2 Oct 13 '13 at 9:03
  • Because "the acquisition of" sounds better to me than "the obtaining of", and is used much more often, despite the fact that "obtain" is more common than "acquire". See Google Ngram. I should say they are both grammatical, just one is more idiomatic. – Peter Shor Oct 13 '13 at 13:55
  • @Peter Shor I sort of agree with you. It was just that the OP used obtain and my point was that it was perfectly feasible and did not need changing to 'acquire'. 'Acquiring' seems to me to be a more intentional process than 'obtaining'. I deliberately go out to 'acquire' something, I also deliberately try to 'obtain', but I also 'obtain' something that merely falls into my lap. I may be wrong of course. – WS2 Oct 13 '13 at 14:39
  • And I sort of agree with you, as well. There is a small difference between "obtaining" and "acquiring". – Peter Shor Oct 13 '13 at 14:49

lead to + infinitive = guide by words or example

"I was led to think you may be right"

lead to + substantive = have as an end or outcome

"What does your idea lead to ?"

Here : "It will lead to the obtention". (exists but unusual ; then, according to the context : gain, achievement, possession, result ...)

  • "I was led to + infinitive" in passive voice is grammatical, as is "I led him to + infinitive". But as an intransitive verb, "I lead to + infinitive" is ungrammatical. – Peter Shor Oct 13 '13 at 0:26

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