This is a bit hard to explain but here's an example:

I wanted to spend Christmas with him, but he said he had __ with his family in Ireland this year.

What to fill in the blank (a phrase that doesn't include spend)?

Initially, I wrote to do it but a native English speaker said it wasn't quite correct.

  • Are you looking for a whole phrase? to spend it would work there. to do it does sound a little weird. – stangdon Apr 18 '18 at 12:42
  • @stangdon Yes, a phrase that doesn't include spend. I updated my question. – alex Apr 18 '18 at 12:45
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    This is a noun rather than a verb (phrase), but you could put "plans" in the blank and it scans perfectly well. – Canadian Yankee Apr 18 '18 at 14:08
  • I guess you could say "he had to be with his family". That's the most fluent thing I can think of other than "to spend it". – stangdon Apr 18 '18 at 15:15

Other than "spend," you may say "to be," and it means the same thing as with "spend"

Another way to say it, with a different meaning, is "plans," as in he already scheduled something for Christmas.

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