Consider the following multiple-choice question:

The supervisors were asked ______ tasks to new employees so that they could be trained to do them properly.

A. Delegate - infinitive
B. To delegate - To + infinitive
C. delegating - gerund
D. delegation - noun

I was wondering after improvising some structures in the sentence like below.

Question 1 - What if there is a choice E: 'delegating for'? Would this be a valid answer?

The supervisors were asked for delegating tasks to new employees so that they could be trained to do them properly.

Question 2 - Could 'for' be a substitute for 'to'? If so, will it have the same meaning?

The supervisors were asked delegating tasks for new employees so that they could be trained to do them properly.

Could this make sense too? Under the premise that delegating tasks is the noun to have meaning itself.

  • 1
    The short answer is no, you must use the infinitive (to delegate) in sentences structured like your example. You could not use for like that. As to why... I'll leave that to my better informed colleagues here on EL&U. You may also be interested in our sister site for people trying to learn English as a second language: English Language Learners.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 23, 2015 at 1:08
  • Thank you Dan, i will wait for other answers and i will make a use of your suggested website too. Jun 23, 2015 at 1:12
  • I don't understand that B, To delegate - supine. To quote Wikipedia, In grammar a supine is a form of verbal noun used in some languages. Those languages apparently include Latin, but not English. Jun 23, 2015 at 1:20
  • Dear Fumble Fingers, i edited my post. Thank you for the correction Jun 23, 2015 at 1:36
  • 1
    @Hugh, You have been so much helpful. I must stick to the meaning of the complete sentence itself instead of forming the correct structure. Jun 23, 2015 at 2:50

2 Answers 2

  1. In school, we were specifically taught to use to-infinitives in place of for-doing verbs. So "to delegate" would be preferred to "for delegating". Not only is it neater to read, it is the correct usage.

  2. "asked delegating" is again wrong. Replacing it with "to delegate", it becomes:

"The supervisors were asked to delegate tasks for new employees so that they could be trained to do them properly."

Now we can analyse it. Delegating a task to a person means telling them to do that task. Delegating a task for a person means doing the delegation for that person so he/she doesn't have to. So no, it won't work as a substitute. And it doesn't have the same meaning, as mentioned.


One thing that is sure is that the construction verb + to-infinitive is the most frequent and normal construction. Only a small group of verbs use the bare infinitive. Some verbs are followed by a gerund, and these verbs must be learnt from grammars. Only in rare cases one can give a reason why a gerund is preferred to a to-infinitive.

In any case, you can't chose any construction you like. If uncertain you have to consult the dictionary to see how the verb is constructed.

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