Suddenly I got a question studying participle.

  1. I spent too much time yesterday doing my homework.
  2. I spent too much time yesterday to do my homework.

Is no.2 grammatically correct?
If so, what's the difference between the two?

1 Answer 1


1: I spent too much time yesterday doing my homework.
2: I spent too much time yesterday to do my homework.

Technically speaking, #2 there is "valid" (if "awkward") - but it doesn't mean the same as #1, and would only make sense if we contrive some unusual context where the speaker spent an excessive amount of time doing something else, and was thus unable to do his homework (note that in the first version, the speaker is saying that the amount of time he spent doing homework was excessive).

For a "matched pair" where both alternatives more obviously make sense, consider...

3: I lost too much money yesterday playing cards
4: I lost too much money yesterday to play cards

...where #3 means the speaker did play cards (yesterday) - but he lost an excessive amount of money. But #4 means the speaker was unable to play cards (either yesterday, or perhaps earlier on the day of speaking) because he didn't have enough money (having lost so much yesterday - feasibly, but not necessarily, by playing cards).

Note that in #4 it's even possible the speaker still has plenty of money - but because he lost so much yesterday, he doesn't want to repeat the experience. In that interpretation, it's contextually almost certain that he lost the money playing cards - not by, for example, placing too much money on losing bets with a bookmaker, or even simply losing his wallet somehow.

In examples #2 and #4, to essentially has the sense of in order to - as in I withdrew some money from the cash machine to play cards. But when the preceding clause includes too [much/many], this pragmatically implies it wasn't/isn't possible to perform the second action (doing homework, playing cards), because of some kind of "excess" associated with the first activity.

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