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SourceAs I wrote in my Comment, the Administration needs to engage fully and politically in a fight for the states to, for example, sign on to the Medicaid expansion.

"in a fight for the states to sign on to the expansion"

This "for the states" is grammatically the same as "something for you to do."

Or "for the states to sign on to the expansion" is separate from the noun"fight" and explains "engage" like "I went to the park to talk to my neighbour."?

  • I didn't read the article, just scanned through it. But if I understand correctly, a fight for the states means a fight for those states in the United States. Roughly, that sentence means that the Administration should engage in a fight, and it is a fight to sign on to "the Medicaid expansion". – Damkerng T. Nov 24 '13 at 13:38
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This is a tricky sentence to parse, because that first for (the one after fight) actually serves two different purposes.

On the one hand it acts as a preposition in the idiomatic expression fight for X, meaning struggle to achieve X, where fight may be either a verb or a noun.

Superman fights [preposition phrasefor Truth, Justice and the American Way]!

Superman’s fight [preposition phrasefor Truth, Justice and the American Way]

In the sentence at hand, however, the object of that preposition is not a simple Noun Phrase but a subordinate clause of the form for A to do B, where for acts as a complementizer—in traditional grammar, a subordinating conjunction:

What the administration wants is [complement clausefor the states to sign on to the Medicaid expansion].
  which might be paraphrased as
What the administration wants is [complement clausethat the states should sign on to the Medicaid expansion].

When that nominal complement clause headed by the complementizer for becomes the object of the preposition for, the two fors are collapsed into one.

       ... a fight for X
replace X with       for the states to sign on to the Medicaid expansion
             ↓
       ... a fight for for the states to sign on to the Medicaid expansion
collapse the fors
             ↓
       ... a fight for the states to sign on to the Medicaid expansion

This is not ungrammatical; it’s just one of those shortcuts nobody notices.

The sentence may be paraphrased:

The Administration needs to engage ... in the effort to make the states sign on to the Medicaid expansion, among other things.

  • @kih1930 No. For us to do is adjectival, it acts as an adjective modifying something. For the states to sign on is nominal, it acts as the noun object of the pronoun for (or of the phrasal verb fight for, depending on how you understand phrasal verbs). – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 24 '13 at 14:11
  • I see. But "for the states to sing on" explains "the fight" ? Is this what you are saying? – user2492 Nov 24 '13 at 14:17
  • @kih1930 I've added some language that I hope explains this. Yes, the for phrase is a complement to fight which defines the ojbect which fight seeks to achieve. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 15 '13 at 14:59

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