I found a following sentence in this link:

"Does the Reaction of Abstaining Smokers to the Smell of Other People's Cigarettes Predict Relapse?"

Shouldn't it be "abstaining from" instead of "abstaining to", which means "to keep oneself from doing, engaging in, or partaking of something; refrain"? Thank you!

  • 31
    You're misreading it. It's "reaction to the smell".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 13:01
  • I think this is called a "deverbal adjective"
    – wjandrea
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 16:02
  • 'Abstain from' but here abstain is being attached like an adjective to 'smoker', I don't know what the technical term for that would be but I assume there is one. Commented May 3, 2020 at 15:17

3 Answers 3


In this instance, "abstaining" is an adjective - someone who currently abstains (specifically, from smoking).

We can rewrite the sentence like this:

Does the reaction of [people abstaining from smoking] to [the smell of other people's cigarettes] predict relapse?

So [people abstaining from smoking] react to [the smell of other people's cigarettes]

You "abstain" from something, but you "react" to something.


Yes, abstain takes from, but that's not the way to parse this sentence.

This sentence is talking about the reaction of "abstaining smokers", and that reaction is their reaction to others' smoke.

You could say "Does the reaction of Andrew to the smell...", or rephrase the sentence as "Does abstaining smokers' reaction to..."


REACTION TO (SOMETHING) Here, the noun 'reaction' takes the preposition 'to' after it.

ABSTAINING SMOKERS = PEOPLE ABSTAINING FROM SMOKING. Here, 'abstaining' is the present participle adjective, premodifying the noun "smoker".

So, the sentence is grammatically correct.

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