What's the difference in meaning between these two phrases?

  • It was the beginning of an artistic career devoted to the oneness of art and life.

  • It was the beginning of an artistic career to devote to the oneness of art and life.

The participle devoted used in the first sentence suggests that an artistic career was first devoted to the oneness of art and life. But I'm not sure if the second sentence suggests the same thing or it's grammatically incorrect?

The structure with first, second, third, etc., next, last, and only can be followed by an infinitive structure (according to the book Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, Third Edition, page 260). For example,

  • Who was the first person to climb Everest without oxygen?

So it makes me believe that the second sentence can also be used in the same structure to bring the same meaning. Because the beginning of something also suggests first or something like that. Not sure if my understanding is right.

  • 1
    An initial comment: In your last example, "to climb Everest without oxygen" is an infinitival relative clause with a modal meaning. It's quite different in syntax and meaning to your first two. – BillJ May 2 '18 at 19:03
  • There's nothing ungrammatical about a career to devote to X, with a purpose infinitive, but it refers to the future, not the past, so it can't occur after It was the beginning of, which refers to the past. Past participle is OK here, though, for obvious reasons. – John Lawler May 2 '18 at 21:06
  • @JohnLawler I’m afraid BillJ is right. In your e.g., we can say “he was the first person who climbed..,’”. What is the corresponding version of sentence 2? “... artistic career which devoted — (what)? What is the object of that verb? As a matter of a fact, you might do better with: “It was the beginning of an artistic career to be devoted ....”. That could work. – Tuffy May 2 '18 at 23:10
  • @Tuffy: BillJ is right about the last example; it is a relative infinitive, which is not the same as the first example, which is a purpose infinitive modifying career. The subject of to devote is whoever is in charge of the career and its goals. – John Lawler May 3 '18 at 0:17
  • @JohnLawler We've some sort of future in the past. Can't it be like that? – dirac16 May 3 '18 at 5:38

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