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Unit 29. Nouns with ‘-ing’, ‘-ed’ or ‘to’-infinitive clauses
(существительные с различными формами глаголов)

Main points

1. You can often give more information about a noun, or an indefinite pronoun such as ‘someone’ or ‘something’, by adding a clause beginning with an ‘-ing’ form, an ‘-ed’ form, or a ‘to’-infinitive.

He gestured towards the box lying on the table.

I think the idea suggested by Tim is the best one.

She wanted someone to talk to.

2. You use an ‘-ing’ clause after a noun to say what someone or something is doing or was doing at a particular time.

The young girl sitting opposite him was his daughter.

Most of the people strolling in the park were teenagers.

3. You can also use an ‘-ing’ clause after a noun to say what a person or thing does generally, rather than at a particular time.

Problems facing parents should be discussed.

The men working there were not very friendly.

4. You often use an ‘-ing’ clause after a noun which is the object of a verb of perception, such as ‘see’, ‘hear’, or ‘feel’. See Unit 84 also.

Suddenly we saw Amy walking down the path.

He heard a distant voice shouting.

5. You use an ‘-ed’ clause after a noun to show that someone or something has been affected or caused by an action.

He was the new minister appointed by the President.

The man injured in the accident was taken to hospital.

Remember that not all verbs have regular ‘-ed’ forms.

A story written by a young girl won the competition.

She was wearing a dress bought in Paris.

6. You use a ‘to’-infinitive clause after a noun to indicate the aim of an action or the purpose of physical object.

We arranged a meeting to discuss the new rules.

He had nothing to write with.

You also use a ‘to’-infinitive clause after a noun to say that something needs to be done.

I gave him several things to mend.

‘What's this?’-‘A list of things to remember.’

7. You use a ‘to’-infinitive clause after a noun group that includes an ordinal number, a superlative, or a word like ‘next’, ‘last’, or ‘only’.

She was the first woman to be elected to the council.

Mr Holmes was the oldest person to be chosen.

The only person to speak was James.

8. You use a ‘to’-infinitive clause after abstract nouns to give more specific information about them.

All it takes is a willingness to learn.

He'd lost the ability to communicate with people.

The following abstract nouns are often followed by a ‘to’-infinitive clause:

ability
attempt
chance
desire
failure
inability
need
opportunity
unwillingness
willingness
 
 

Note that the verbs or adjectives which are related to these nouns can also be followed by a ‘to’-infinitive clause. For example, you can say ‘I attempted to find them’, and ‘He was willing to learn’.

See Unit 30 for information on nouns that are related to reporting verbs and can be followed by a ‘to’-infinitive clause.

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