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My colleague and I had a heated debate this morning over the following sentence:

"Developed by moms for moms to foster, our product provides the perfect blend of comfort and functionality."

The intention being that moms built the product and are also in charge of growing the product.

My colleague insisted that "to foster" is not proper without a noun after, so the sentence should read:

"Developed by moms for moms to foster a growing experience, our product provides the perfect blend of comfort and functionality."

Save us from our own debate, fellow grammarists! Which is [more] correct?

closed as off-topic by MetaEd, jimm101, curiousdannii, NVZ, ab2 Apr 7 '16 at 1:37

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  • You asked about a 'subject', but you are actually debating the object of the verb "foster". "Foster" in this sense is a transitive verb so an object is obligatory, and hence your second example with "growing experience" is the correct alternant. – BillJ Apr 5 '16 at 18:00
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    @BillJ, is not "our product" the object of "foster" in the first sentence? The second seems to have a rather different meaning. – PellMel Apr 5 '16 at 18:01
  • @PellMel No, the comma after "foster" seems to be marking the boundaries of two clauses, subordinate clause as adjunct followed by a main clause. If "our product" were the object of "foster", the main clause would have no subject. – BillJ Apr 5 '16 at 18:05
  • @BillJ, the OP remarks that "The intention [is] that moms built the product and are also in charge of growing the product," so certainly the object of "foster" in the first sentence is intended to be "our product". I did read it that way myself. – PellMel Apr 5 '16 at 18:09
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    @PellMel Sorry, but you're misreading the question. Two points: the first sentence is ungrammatical because "foster" requires an object, which it doesn't have. The object can't possibly be "our product" because that is already being used as the subject of the main clause ("our product provides the perfect blend..."). Second, the OP was not asking about anything other than whether "foster" should have the noun phrase "a growing experience" as object. That is all they are asking. – BillJ Apr 5 '16 at 18:46
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As BillJ wrote in a comment, "to foster" is a transitive verb, which means it requires an object, the thing which is being fostered. That said, the object can be implied.

Developed by moms for moms to foster, our product provides the perfect blend of comfort and functionality.

I'd call this sentence ungrammatical. The words "our product" cannot both be the subject of the main clause ("our product provides the perfect blend...") and the object of "to foster" ("to foster our product"). Furthermore, even if you rewrite the first part to be a stand-alone sentence, I'm not sure what it would mean:

? Our product was designed by moms, for moms, to foster our product.

I don't think that sort of structure makes sense and it isn't clear to me what it means to "foster" a product.

Your second example is an improvement:

Developed by moms for moms to foster a growing experience, our product provides the perfect blend of comfort and functionality.

Here, it is the "growing experience" which is "fostered". This is grammatical and makes sense, except that I don't understand what a "growing experience" is or how it is fostered, and this is clearly a different meaning that what was suggested for the first sentence.

  • @BillJ since you posted your answer as a comment before I posted this, if you post an answer I will erase mine if you want. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Apr 5 '16 at 20:20
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Both variants are correct. It is not a 100% rule that all transitive verbs should always be followed by a noun. If that was true, then we could not say, for example: "He was born to kill" (sorry for the example, can't think of a better one right now :D ). https://www.google.com.ua/search?q=%22born+to+kill,+she+was%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=7iYEV8PdBMmPsgGa1YbYCg#q=%22he+was+born+to+kill%22

Apart from that, I am sure advertisements have plenty examples of transitive verbs used without objects.

  • Your second sentence is true, but I'm unsure of your example. Are you saying that was born is transitive? Or are you saying that to kill is not a noun? – deadrat Apr 6 '16 at 6:15
  • If the first variant is correct, what does it mean? What is being fostered? – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Apr 6 '16 at 18:57

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