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When we have three verbs in the same clause. And we need to decide whether use "ing" or "to" with the third one.

Should we choose based on the main verb (first one) or the second verb?

In the following example, arrange should follow with "to + infinitive" verb and discuss should follow by "ing" very. so should we use "to buy" or "buying"?

I have arranged to discuss to buy his house.

I have arranged to discuss buying his house.

Another example:

I never considered offering buying his car.

I never considered offering to buy his car.

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  • I may be widely off base but I'm pretty sure you can't use "to ___" twice in a row.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:28
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    @Catija I want to try to persuade you to change your opinion. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:41
  • @StoneyB Ah, thanks... So then why is it wrong here? Because it certainly is... It's something I just know is wrong but not why it is so... just like I know that "offering to buy" is correct and the other is wrong...
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:45
  • @Catija See my answer, forthcoming presently. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:46
  • @StoneyB Is it going to be written such that a dumb native speaker can understand? ;)
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:47

2 Answers 2

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With these catenative constructions, each verb 'selects' the form of its complement without regard to earlier verbs in the chain.

Discuss selects gerund-participle complements but not infinitival complements, and arranged selects infinitival complements but not gerund-participle complements; so you have to say:

okI have arranged to discuss buying his house.
I have arranged discussing buying his house.
I have arranged to discuss to buy his house.

Similarly, consider selects gerund-participle complements but not infinitival complements, and offer selects infinitival complements but not gerund-participle complements; so you have to say:

okI have never considered offering to buy his car.
∗  I have never considered offering buying his car.
∗  I have never considered to offer to buy his car.

Note however that offer may take as object an 'uncontrolled' gerund-participle clause—a clause whose subject is not inferred from the head clause.

He offered buying a car as an alternative to taking the bus.

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  • This is really the first time I hear of "select". Is it equal to another term "license"? Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 23:43
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    @user178049 Yes, it is. And there's a third term, "subcategorize". They're all pretty much the same thing. Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 0:53
  • There seems to be a peculiarity of the verb 'arrange'. In addition to 'arrange to do sth', we also have 'arrange for sb to do sth'. However, 'for' is not usually needed in catenative constructions like 'ask sb to do sth', 'suggest sb doing sth', 'expect sb to do sth', etc. Is it also a kind of license through which 'for sb' functions as Prepositional Phrase Complement, or just part of the non-finite clause Complement?
    – Kinzle B
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 15:25
  • @KinzleB Usually these for .. to complements occur with verbs which also use for NP complements. Arrange is one of these: we say "Arrange for a replacement, for a car" &c. Similarly, Ask takes for complements--"She asked for help, for a job, for her brother"--and also takes for .. to clausal complements--"She asked for him to be appointed" as well as "She asked them to appoint him".There's a sort of merger of for functions here. I don't think it matters how you parse it. Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 15:38
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I have arranged to discuss to buy his house.

makes for awkward reading, and questionable grammar. "To discuss to buy" is difficult reading

I have arranged to discuss buying his house.

reads much better, and is grammatically alright.

I have arranged discussion on buying this house.

is another option. It leaves out one of the verbs.

I never considered offering buying his car.

reads very badly in English. Do not consider this. The two "ing" forms back to back make for difficult understanding .

I never considered offering to buy his car.

is good.
In both examples offered, "I have arranged", and "I never considered" the issue was in the second and third verbs. You resolved the issue (the same word construction back to back) with the second version in both cases.

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