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reason to choose - reason for choosing

Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:51 am
by iain
I'm getting in a bit of a tangle trying to work out when we use 'reason to do' and when we use 'reason for doing'.
(is 'reason for doing' more frequent simply because of 'reason for' + noun?)

"One good reason for choosing ....... is."
"One good reason to choose ........ is."

Does 'reason for doing' carry the idea of 'explanation'? Is there the idea of something already done, while 'reason to do' leaves the idea of possibility?

"What was your reason for writing to him?"
"I think you'll have to find a better reason to write to him."

"There were very good reasons for not believing his story."
"There is no reason to believe differently."

"I had no reason not to agree. (so I didn't?)"
"I had no reason for not agreeing. (and I don't know why I did?)"

But, could it be reason for - explanation, and reason to - cause?

"I had no reason to be dissatisfied." (no cause - so I wasn't)
"I had no reason for being dissatisfied." (no explanation but I was)

"She had no reason for being late."
"She had no reason to be late."

Examples with "believe", "think" and "suppose" "expect" may be disracting.

"Probably the best reason to reply is ......."
"Probably ther best reason for replying is ........."

I think I might be off track here though - any useful comments?

Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:49 pm
by fluffyhamster
Hi Iain. I think you're on the right track with your rough definitions of 'reason for -ing' generally carrying the idea of "explanation" and 'reason to-inf' generally leaving (open) the idea of "possibilities".

A few thoughts of my own (after consulting all the relevant examples in my electronic version of the OALD6 and Oxford Concise Thesaurus - assuming we can both agree that such ALDs are reasonably comprehensive, balanced and useful [if, or rather, and thus! not quite "random"] snapshots of the language and its meanings):

The standout context-exemplar for 'reason for -ing'* would IMHO appear to be 'reasons for leaving'** (e.g. What were your reasons for leaving [that particular job]?), whilst 'reason to-inf' is frequently preceded by 'no', and seems to have most "semantic force" (in the meaning we are discussing) when following There + linking verb, and arguably less "semantic force" (i.e. could in some examples almost be synonymous with '(no) right' (noun, versus 'wrong(s)')) when coming before be + adjective, or before "Non-There" infinitives of lexical verbs:

There is no compelling reason to believe him.
There is no reason to suppose she's lying.
There seems no reason to doubt her story.

I have good reason to be suspicious.
You have no reason to be apprehensive about the future.
I had no reason to doubt him.
He had no reason to suspect (question) my honesty.
He had every reason to be angry.


For what it's worth, the COBUILD Grammar Patterns 2: Nouns and Adjectives has:

13 meaning groups under the pattern N to-inf: 1 The 'desire' group; 2 The 'arrangement' group; 3 The 'promise' group; 4 The 'proposal' group; 5 The 'attempt' group; 6 The 'ability' group; 7 The 'permission' group; 8 The 'request' group; 9 The 'responsibility' group; 10 The 'reason' group (bribe; cause; disincentive; encouragement; excuse; impetus; incentive; inducement; inspiration; motivation; reason; temptation); 11 The 'tendency' group; 12 The 'claim' group; 13 Miscellaneous 'nouns with other meanings' (cue; deadline; failure; favorite; fitness; help; imperative; job; position; queue; refusal; signal; temptation; time out; way),

and:

31 meaning groups under the pattern N for n: 1 The 'love' and 'hatred' group; 2 The 'support' group; 3 The 'desire' group; 4 The 'search' group; 5 The 'request' group; 6 The 'bill' group; 7 The 'ticket' group; 8 The 'compensation' group; 9 The 'talent' group; 10 The 'basis' group; 11 The 'plan' group; 12 The 'catalyst' and 'death knell' group; 13 The 'turning point' group; 14 The 'blessing' and 'setback' group; 15 The 'opportunity' group; 16 The 'reason' group (cause; excuse; explanation; grounds; justification; motive; rationale; reason; warrant); 17 The 'evidence' group; 18 The 'advertisment' group; 19 The 'substitute' group; 20 The 'synonym' group; 21 The 'spokesman' group; 22 The 'institute' group; 23 The 'home' group; 24 The 'preparation' group; 25 The 'cure' group; 26 The 'cloak' group; 27 The 'vogue' group; 28 The 'eligibility' group; 29 The 'reputation' group; 30 The 'channel' group; 31 Micellaneous 'nouns with other meanings' (adjustment; advert; advertisment; base; candidate; cheque; contract; date; deadline; estimate; eye-opener; first; foil; forum; hope; implications; magnet; marker; metaphor; necessity; need; nomination; place; potential; propensity; prospects; record; responsibility; room; screening; setting; space; target; time; tip; tool; treasure trove; use; vehicle; victory; wherewithal; writ).


*Note that the -ing form probably only accounts for at most around 20% of the examples produced from a search for REASON (i.e. the lemma ~) + for + ? in the OALD6 & OCT; the other 80% are "noun proper" (i.e. non -ing forms) e.g. The reasons for the decision should be made explicit. But ultimately of course there is no real difference in terms of parsing.

**Note the plural form 'reasons' seems to be the general default in the pattern REASON for -ing; unless the noun is qualified e.g. his prime/main reason for leaving then it likely (I'm theorizing here!) won't be singular. In contrast, 'reason to-inf' seems predominantly if not exclusively singular, at least going by the OALD6 & OCT's examples.

Posted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:02 am
by iain
Thanks very much for the time and effort put into your reply. It does boil down to notions of 'explanation' and 'cause', which can be the same thing in many examples. T
The thing is to be able to distil things clearly enough to be able to give learners an acceptable response to the inevitable question about if, how and why the two forms are not the same. The last things most learners want is to end up further in the dark than they were initially.
Thanks again,
Iain