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The business hoped to devote most of its fund to ______ for new television ads since it wanted more coverage.

Should the answer be "pay" or "paying"? Why and, what difference would it make (if any)?

  • Simply "devote funds to new television ads" or "to advertizement"? Shorter is better. The given answers so far are bound to being unfounded ... sorry, I mean bound to be grounded in opinion, not theory. – vectory Mar 8 at 10:47
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What follows to should be a noun (or verb acting as a noun), making this the correct version of your sentence:

The business hoped to devote most of its funds to paying for new television ads, since it wanted more coverage.

Note that I used the plural funds on the assumption that you're talking about budget or money rather than an actual fund. I also added a comma after ads.


Having said that, I would dispense with to paying for altogether. It's redundant.

A shorter and still understandable sentence is simply:

The business hoped to devote most of its funds to new television ads, since it wanted more coverage.


On the other hand, you can rephrase the original sentence so pay can be used rather than paying. To do this, you would remove devote and rearrange things a bit:

The business hoped to pay for new television ads with most of its funds, since it wanted more coverage.

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"to" is a preposition there, so a gerund is required.

The correct sentence is:

  • The business hoped to devote most of its fund to paying for new television ads since it wanted more coverage.

You devote money, time, effort, etc. to something, and that something needs to be a noun. If it is a verb, its nominal variant (i.e. a gerund) will be required.

Here you can find more examples.

  • Does this not depend on whether "to pay(ing)" belongs to "devote" or "hope"? E.g. "I hoped to [get rich quick] to pay off my loan" versus "I hoped to [devote myself to paying off my loan]". OP's example could be parsed either way: paying for new ads could've been the endgoal of their hope, or the target of their devotion. – Flater Mar 8 at 9:03
  • @Flater "devote most of its fund" does not convey a complete meaning and needs "to V-ing" to make sense. – Gustavson Mar 8 at 9:49
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The business hoped to devote most of its funds to ______ for new television ads since it wanted more coverage.

A to-infinitival clause as purpose adjunct is infelicitous here with the matrix verb "devote". We would more naturally say: The business hoped to use/allocate most of its fund (in order) to pay for new television ads.

Which means that "to" as a preposition with the gerund-participial clause paying for new TV ads ... as its complement is more acceptable.

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A gerund is a noun formed from a verb. An infinitive is a verb without a tense.

"to" has (at least) two functions:

  • as an auxiliary verb, which can preceding an infinitive.
  • as a preposition, which can precede a noun phrase.

So really both answers are valid.

  1. The business hoped to devote most of its fund to pay for new television ads since it wanted more coverage.

    Here "to" is an auxiliary verb. And "pay" is an infinitive verb.

  2. The business hoped to devote most of its fund to paying for new television ads since it wanted more coverage.

    Here "to" is a preposition preceding the noun phrase "paying for new television ads".

That the grammar answer. But, in terms of meaning, both sentences mean the same thing.

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