Please consider the sentence below:

Mr. Moretti has to go to Washington on a business trip unless his associate volunteers to go.

This is a quote from the book: English Grammar Digest, by Trudy Aronson, page 28.

Is this sentence incorrect?

I think the author has meant:

Mr. Moretti has to go to Washington on a business trip unless his associate volunteers [have] to go.

Edit: I think that way because books are at the highest level of confidance for reading and it very rarely happens to see a grammar mistake in a grammar book. Besides, it's the only remedy in my mind (for the time being) to be able to consider the sentence correct.

Do you agree please?

  • 1
    This is not "incorrect". Volunteer is a verb here, not a noun. Use your English dictionary to learn what it means. Jul 17 '17 at 18:37
  • @P.E.Dant: So what does the "unless his associate volunteers to go." mean please?
    – Abbasi
    Jul 17 '17 at 18:38
  • You can learn it without our help, if you simply consult your English dictionary to learn the meaning of the verb to volunteer. You will learn, in that dictionary, that volunteer often takes an infinitive (such as "to go".) Jul 17 '17 at 18:39
  • I'm curious, is it just the word "volunteers" that is confusing? Or is it the entire phrase?
    – Alexander
    Jul 17 '17 at 18:43
  • Note: in this clause, the noun phrase his associate is the subject of the verb volunteers. Jul 17 '17 at 18:48

The original sentence is fine.

Let's treat it as two phrases, joined together by the conjunction "unless":

Mr. Moretti has to go to Washington on a business trip.

His associate volunteers to go.

The first sentence is good, and you recognize that. As for the second? You have a subject ("his associate"), a verb in the third-person present tense ("volunteers"), and the verb "to go", which stays in the infinitive because it's preceded by a verb that has already been conjugated. This sentence is good as well.

  • 3
    Volunteer is one of a limited set of words in English that may be either a verb or a noun; the verb form and the noun form are related, in that a volunteer (noun) is a person who volunteers (verb). The O.P. appears to have confused the two usages, and interpreted volunteers as a noun, modified by the adjective associate, rather than interpreting volunteers as a verb, indicating what the noun (associate) did. Jul 17 '17 at 18:43
  • Thanks. I don't know how I confused such a trivial thing!
    – Abbasi
    Jul 17 '17 at 18:46
  • 1
    (For what it's worth, associate is also in that set of words!) Jul 17 '17 at 18:48
  • 1
    @Abbasi Everyone makes mistakes! I think your command of English is quite good, and the fact that you questioned this sentence shows that you are thinking and paying attention. Remember: the dictionary is your friend! Jul 17 '17 at 20:08
  • 1
    @JeffZeitlin It's a set, but hardly "limited"! Just in the b's, I can start with back, bail, balance, balloon, ban, bandage, bank, bare, bargain, battle, beam, bear, beat, bend... I'm sure there are thousands. Jul 17 '17 at 20:41

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