• Your employer is required to deduct a certain amount from your salary as a withstanding tax payable to the federal government.
  • 'Hamlet' is required reading [= must be read] for this course.

Would you kindly tell me the reason why in the first sentence, there is an infinitive after required, and in the second one a gerund?

  • 1
    @Andrew Leach Your edit is supposed to be the answer! :) – Kris Jan 13 '14 at 8:11
  • @Kris I don't believe so: the question is Why the infinitive is needed in the first case and why the gerund is needed in the second case. I didn't alter that question; I simply altered the text to be more relevant to that question. – Andrew Leach Jan 13 '14 at 9:23
  • I wonder why I am the only one on this page objecting to this being called a gerund. I would have expected everyone to immediately point out that reading, here, is indeed a full-fledged noun, and a noun only. It does not function one bit as a verb. – RegDwigнt Jan 13 '14 at 10:36
  • @RegDwigt: I don't know, the boundary between gerund and ossified noun is not so clear. I guess I would agree this is no ordinary gerund, at the very least. – Cerberus Jan 13 '14 at 12:28
  • 1
    @Cerberus I encourage you to try and modify that reading with an adverb. I am not seeing how you could. – RegDwigнt Jan 13 '14 at 12:46

I think all answers and comments so far, including mine, are really missing one crucial point.

The big thing here is that "required reading" is a set phrase that we use when we talk about books mandatory for some purpose, and particularly when talking about mandatory books for a course.

That reason, more than anything else, is why "required reading" is preferred here, even though "required to be read" would be grammatical and make a certain amount of sense.

  • OMG ur so smart would reading again. A++ – Cerberus Jan 13 '14 at 17:15

Note that in

Your employer is required "to deduct" a certain amount from your salary …

required is a verb, and deduct is also a verb.

However, in

'Hamlet' is required "reading" (=must be read) for this course

required is an adjective to the gerund (behaving like a noun) reading.

It is not a case of merely adding -ing to a verb. Consider that deduct is a verb and reading is a noun.


The important point is that, in each example, the subject of the sentence stands in a different relationship to the verb 'require'.

In the first, the subject is your 'employer' upon whom there is a requirement. Hence 'Your employer is required to deduct....'. 'Required', a past participle, acts as an adverb in qualification of 'is...to deduct'.

In the second example Hamlet, the subject, is not required to do anything. It is just that that play, is 'required reading'. Thus the past participle acts not in qualifying any verb but as an adjective to qualify the complement and gerund 'reading'.

  • 1
    It comes as surprise that required modifies deduct. Am I missing something here? – Kris Jan 13 '14 at 13:05
  • @Kris No, as I said, it 'qualifies' 'is...to deduct'. One could have said 'Employer is 'is allowed to deduct/certain to deduct/ tempted to deduct/inclined to deduct/ etc. Note all the qualifiers are past participles. More qualified grammarians than me could give you a far more technical explanation. – WS2 Jan 13 '14 at 21:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.