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unwilling to + infinitive and incapable of + ing form. Which one is the right sentence?

The ruling class is incapable more than unwilling to pursue the public interest.

vs

The ruling class is incapable more than unwilling of pursuing the public interest.

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    Neither. Try this (without the brackets): The ruling class is more [incapable of pursuing] than [unwilling to pursue] <the public interest>. That's syntactically fine, but a bit tricky to parse. You might think about rephrasing the sentence in some way, if that matters. – Jason Bassford Oct 9 at 9:42
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    You have got to analyse for acceptable parallelism, and must not delete unduplicated items. 'The ruling class is incapable ... to pursue the public interest' is unacceptable. You need 'The ruling class is incapable ... of pursuing the public interest' instead. So we have to have 'The ruling class is incapable of pursuing the public interest rather than unwilling to pursue the public interest', which reduces only as far as 'The ruling class is incapable of pursuing, rather than unwilling to pursue, the public interest'. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 9 at 13:25
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The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White says, “Some words require a particular preposition in certain idiomatic uses. When such words are joined in a compound construction, all the appropriate prepositions must be included …” (p. 44 in the 2000 illustrated edition). It gives an example, “His speech was marked by disagreement and scorn for his opponent’s position,” and the corrected form, “His speech was marked by disagreement with and scorn for his opponent’s position.”

By this rule, your example would be correctly written as “The ruling class is incapable of more than unwilling to pursue the public interest.” That sounds right to me too.

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The first one is correct:

  • The ruling class is incapable more than unwilling to pursue the public interest.

You could, however, flip ‘more’ and ‘incapable’, to make the sentence clearer and highlight the contrast between ‘incapable’ and ‘unwilling’ thus:

  • The ruling class is more incapable than unwilling to pursue the public interest.

The second is incorrect:

  • The ruling class is incapable more than unwilling of pursuing the public interest.

...because you can’t say that someone is ‘unwilling of doing something’. You need to say ‘unwilling to do something’, to be idiomatic.

When you have two adjectives, you use the preposition that matches the word nearest.

There’s a missed out but assumed invisible ‘of’ after the ‘incapable’. But this would often be left out to allow the sentence to flow.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/unwilling

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/basic-grammar/adjectives-and-prepositions

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