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Rest as a noun:

The boulder came to rest just behind the house after rolling down the mountain.

Now that we're all in agreement, we can put that issue to rest.

She was laid to rest in the village cemetery.

Rest as a verb:

We need to rest the horses before we ride any further.

The blame seems to rest with your father.

I thought 'rest' in all of the sentences were verbs? If so how can I tell if it is a verb or noun, especially with the first example: The boulder came to rest just behind the house after rolling down the mountain. Wouldn't 'rest' be a verb in this case as it is describing the action of the boulder?

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rest#English

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    I think the situation is being complicated by the passive. What happens when you recast those passive constructions in the active? E.g. They laid her to rest in the village cemetery. They put it to soak overnight. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 27 '18 at 13:56
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I've come to the conclusion that these are nouns:

The boulder came to rest just behind the house after rolling down the mountain.

Now that we're all in agreement, we can put that issue to rest.

She was laid to rest in the village cemetery.

How? You can put an article/determiner such as 'a' before rest:

The boulder came to a rest just behind the house after rolling down the mountain.

Now that we're all in agreement, we can put that issue to a rest.

? She was laid to a rest in the village cemetery.

With rest as a verb you cannot:

We need to rest the horses before we ride any further.
The blame seems to rest with your father.

*We need to a rest the horses before we ride any further.
*The blame seems to a rest with your father.

Putting the article/determiner 'a' before the verbs would make it ungrammatical.

This shows how to differentiate between word classes which are similar in grammatical structure such as the (to + verb) and (to + noun) as shown above.

Of course, you can't modify every noun with an a. However adding the determiner such as in "Came to a Chicago" would not make it ungrammatical as Chicago is a proper noun. It is however ambigious. If a verb had a determiner before it, only then would it be ungrammatical (as seen above with the *)

This is illustrated by Lambie using the example Chicago:

? "Came to a Chicago"

And Chicago, though I have never been there, is a proper noun and takes no determiner unless, of course, "one comes to a Chicago of yesteryear".


? stands for ambiguous.
* ungrammatical

  • @Lambie, I did a simple linguistic test that proves 'came to rest' is a noun because it can take the determiner "a" while the verb cannot. – aesking Jul 30 '18 at 2:00
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1) The boulder came to rest=the boulder stopped moving

2) To put an issue to rest=to stop discussing the issue, to "put it aside", to make it stop being a problem where the issue is seen to be moving

3) To lay someone to rest= to bury a person's body in a cemetery.

Those are all verbs, not nouns. 1) come to (s) rest means to no longer move.

1) means X will no longer be moving.

2) means to put something out of sight, to make it stop being a problem, to have it stop.

3) is an euphemism where death is seen as place where there is no more movement AND a situation where, if you are tired, you can rest. It's a double meaning. compare: I laid the sick dog on the bed so he could rest. There is no double meaning there. It has the meaning of 5) below.

4) "to rest the horses" means to stop them moving so they can recover their energy because they are tired.

5) "the blames rests with x" means the blame can move no further to another person because it stops at your father.

In fact, all these uses relate to stopping some kind of movement. And the trick is that in the last case, it means stopping movement and recovering energy: He rested on the bed for two hours.

Now that you have the single meaning (stopping movement) and the second meaning (stopping movement and recovering energy to be able to move once again), you can see which meaning is intended.

{EDIT to original answer] 6) Come to rest is a V to V structure: come to rest, come to see, come to understand, etc. Those are all verbs. Therefore, so is rest in this case.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ColleenV May 30 '18 at 17:22
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    Just stumbled across this and the chat has been closed. Much of the chat lost me, but I'm trying to wrap my head around the answer. Isn't "the boulder came to rest" = "the boulder came to a stop"? Stop is a noun in this usage, so it seems like that meaning of rest would also be. Webster defines this state as a noun. I don't want to reopen a can of worms if this has been beaten to death. But any clarification is welcome. – fixer1234 Jul 28 '18 at 0:18
  • The boulder came [*got to a point where] to stop moving. I see it as a verb. I say it is a verb, because V to V is a common English structure. V to N is not. came to rest, came to see, came to understand. Those would all be verbs, wouldn't they? – Lambie Jul 28 '18 at 13:25
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    @Lambie, "came [to bed in order] to rest" -- rest is a verb. "Came to Chicago" -- Chicago is a noun. It seems like "to verb" and "to noun" are both normal and common usages. But I wasn't an English major, so I'm not really qualified to weigh in on this one. :-) – fixer1234 Jul 28 '18 at 21:26
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    @fixer - English major or no, I think you came to a sound conclusion. – J.R. Jul 29 '18 at 10:35

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