2

What is the correct form for the following sentence?

  1. This should help understand why we believe method A to be correct.
  2. This should help understanding why we believe method A to be correct.

I'm more inclined towards the first one, but I'm not entirely sure.

  • I think you need to provide a bit more context, as both seem not quite right, but. You could say, for instance: This should help to understand why... or This should help in understanding why... Can you provide a bit more detail of the context, and the rest of the sentence perhaps? – Tom B Oct 21 '16 at 20:01
  • Expanded the sentence a bit. – Gabriel Oct 21 '16 at 20:02
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    I think instead of "understand", you mean "explain". The first sentence is closest, but still it seems to me that it should be: This should help us to understand why we believe method A to be correct. But this doesn't make much sense, because "we" should presumably know why we believe method A to be correct already. But with "explain" instead of "understand", it makes sense. – Tom B Oct 21 '16 at 20:08
  • I'm referring to the "understanding" of a third party actually. Something like: "This should help John understand why..." – Gabriel Oct 21 '16 at 20:10
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    The answer below should already help you to understand that you need to make clear who is doing the undertanding, or use the verb "explain", when it is always clear that it is a 3rd party who is being explained to. – Tom B Oct 21 '16 at 20:22
2

Firstly, Help is a transitive verb so it needs a direct object

A. This should help John understand why we believe method A to be correct

B. This should help John understanding why we believe method A to be correct

About understand and understanding. I would prefer to use A's sentence. There are special verbs in English that are followed by a direct object and a bare infinitive verb such as make and help.

You make me cry

For example, it always sounds better than you make me crying or you make me to cry.

However, I've done some research on internet that you should use to-infinitive in formal writing or speaking for the verb help.

This should help John to understand why we believe method A to be correct.

But personally, I think to is like an interference here. I'd still prefer the A's sentence.

  • As I stated in a comment above, the understand its aimed at a third party, not us. – Gabriel Oct 22 '16 at 0:04
  • @Gabriel alright..I shall edit my answer – user178049 Oct 22 '16 at 0:25
1

Both examples fail to make clear who will be doing the understanding. I think both would improve if you amended them to indicate this:

"This should help him/them/the community to understand why we believe method A to be correct."

In example 2:

"This should help understanding within the scientific community (of) why we believe method A to be correct."

I leave it to the grammarians to decide whether this is more a case of clarity than grammar.

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    I'm no grammarian, but I don't like the second sentence at all. – J.R. Oct 21 '16 at 21:21
  • I agree. For now I'm sticking with "This should help John understand why we believe method A to be correct." – Gabriel Oct 21 '16 at 21:50

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