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One of the top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Americans on Tuesday that health experts foresee the novel coronavirus that has killed thousands spreading in the United States.

If we change foresee to its synonym predict, spreading is not possible.

Can someone explain the different usage?

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  • I don't understand what you want explained here. Because every verb has its own idiosyncratic rules governing its predicate frame, you can never extrapolate the rules that apply to a given verb based on those that apply to a different one. Each verb's usage pattern is peculiar onto itself and so must be learned from scratch. But as I'm sure you know all of this already, could you please better clarify just what it is that you do wish explained? – tchrist Feb 26 '20 at 4:37
  • "Predict to spread" is not correct. It would be correct to say, "Health experts predict the novel coronavirus that has killed thousands will spread in the United States." Once you understand this, you are left only to learn the difference in framing between the verb "foresee" and the verb "predict". They don't mean the same thing. – R Mac Feb 26 '20 at 4:55
  • @RMac Then, this Guardian article must be wrong to write: "One of the many surprise snubs from this week’s Oscar nominations was the exclusion of the blaxploitation biopic Dolemite Is My Name. At this stage of the season, most hadn’t predicted it to figure in the best picture race but Eddie Murphy, who had been figuring heavily in the circuit, was seen as a strong contender for best actor." theguardian.com/film/2020/jan/13/… – listeneva Feb 26 '20 at 5:04
  • @tchrist Granted, "every verb has its own idiosyncratic rules governing its predicate frame", but should it preempt any attempt to explain the "interesting" difference in allowed forms of complements of synonymous verbs such as these? Note that their predicate frames are also very similar in that both take an NP, a that-clause, a wh-clause, etc. The only difference is the additional complement that can follow an NP complement as shown in the OP. I think that's interesting enough to dig a little deeper. – listeneva Feb 26 '20 at 5:11
  • @listenava A prediction is by definition an uncertain, however educated, guess that something might happen in the future. It should be tensed appropriately, with a conditional verb. The Guardian article is therefore not correct in its usage. A skilled editor would have caught this and recommended the edit, "At this stage of the season, most hadn’t predicted that it would figure in the best picture race [...]." – R Mac Feb 26 '20 at 13:39

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