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I just noticed a sentence in an academic paper which says:

This symposium has marshaled numerous insights regarding the emergence of a general field of inquiry within international law on the movement of people. To move into this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance of the conventional wisdom that questions of migration are within the purview of the sovereign state, and a matter of sovereign territorial prerogative.

But, this structure sounds somewhat weird to my non-native ears. If I wanted to write this sentence, I would start by "moving", not "to move".

Anyway, is the original sentence grammatically correct? (if yes, why?) What about starting with "moving"?

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    I agree the gerund sounds better, but I don't think the infinitive is wrong. It's just inelegant. Then again, the entire sentence is overly wordy and could use the red pencil of a qualified editor. – Andrew Apr 15 '18 at 20:26
  • "To move," "Moving," and "Movement" would all work. I would also tighten up this sentence, but it's not grammatically wrong as is. – Chemomechanics Apr 15 '18 at 20:30
  • @Andrew Thank you ... I was really struggling with this complex sentence, and I thought there is something wrong with my (limited) English knowledge so that I can't understand it. – Omid Reza Abbasi Apr 15 '18 at 20:32
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    Each of the replacements is the subject of "has required." Infinitives, gerunds, and nouns can all be subjects. – Chemomechanics Apr 15 '18 at 20:48
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    @OmidRezaAbbasi Use "To move . . . requires"—and only if it has not happened yet. If you change it to "Moving" (which you should certainly do if it has already happened) then use either "required" or "requires," depending on if it has already happened or not. – Jason Bassford Apr 16 '18 at 10:51
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I would change the main word: "move". It is not appropriately used here, as far as I understand the text. Infinitives, gerunds, nouns, are all usable.

I would use:

The transition into this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance ...

or:

To walk into this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance ...

or:

To enter (into) this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance ...

or their gerund counterparts:

  • Transitioning into this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance ...

  • Walking into this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance ...

  • Entering (into) this conceptual terrain has required a certain amount of defiance ...

However, overall, I prefer the non-gerund variants in this particular case.

  • I agree with you on the first replacement, which is "transition". However, it doesn't answer my question. The question remains unchanged as, again, wouldn't it better to write "Walking into ..." or "Entering this ..."? – Omid Reza Abbasi Apr 10 at 21:17

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