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When you're writing a list of actions in the form of infinitive verbs, do you include "to" before each of them?

For example, "Ann wants to learn to read and to knit."

I tend to think you'd only include the second to if you were trying to emphasize the second verb.

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    Strictly a matter of style.
    – deadrat
    Oct 30, 2016 at 19:24
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    Your hunch is correct. Both version are grammatical, but one gives greater individual emphasis.
    – Anonym
    Oct 30, 2016 at 19:24
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    It's a free choice, but since there's no obvious connection between reading and knitting, I'd include the second "to". But where there is an obvious connection between the verbs, like "read" and "write", I'd probably omit it: "Ann wants to learn to read and write".
    – BillJ
    Oct 30, 2016 at 19:40

1 Answer 1

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"Anne wants to learn to read and knit" sounds to me (educated native English speaker) as if Anne wants to learn to accomplish two things at the same time. She may or may not already be able to do one or both of them separately.

"Anne wants to learn to read and to knit" means she wants to learn to do them separately, from the starting point of not being able to do either. Feels a bit like the Oxford Comma.

Can you walk and chew gum? Can you see what Queen Bey does in the first-verse lyrics of Irreplaceable?

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  • This commenter is slightly unsure as to why the answerer feels the need to refer to hisself in the third person. Furthermore, he wonders whether the gentleman could add in some references to his answer, improving it greatly. Oct 30, 2016 at 21:07

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