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I wonder which form(s) are correct amongst the following:

  • Someone put their attention on X.
  • Someone put their attention to X.

Example:

As a result of the rapid advancement of neural-network-based architectures and availability of large-scale datasets for question answering, researchers put their attention to building automatic question-answering systems.

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  • researchers focused on x. or started focusing on. or started to focus on x.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 16:34
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    It should be "turned their attention to building . . ." The verb "put" is extremely awkward here, and I would venture to say it's non-native, or a google translate error.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 10:23
  • @BillyKerr thanks, good point! Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 10:37

2 Answers 2

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In this case, "put their attention to" is correct; however, to make the sentence sound less passive, it may be better to use "attended to."

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  • Thanks, is "put attention on" incorrect? Commented May 12, 2019 at 21:25
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    @Franck Dernoncourt Yes, "put attention on" is incorrect, as the preposition "on" doesn't fit the given context. Commented May 12, 2019 at 21:27
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    Are you a native speaker? I have never heard anything like "put attention"!! I am a learner though!
    – Cardinal
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 21:28
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    Like Cardinal, I have never heard put their attention to. The expression I'm familiar with is turned their attention to. Google Books Ngram Viewer shows just a trace of put attention to and multiple examples of turn attention to. Commented May 12, 2019 at 22:52
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    to pay attention to something; to heed something; turn one's attention to. Put their attention to is incredibly awkward in English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 20, 2021 at 22:06
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I think put one's attention to something means to devote oneself to solving a problem, whereas put one's attention on something merely means to decide to pay attention to it.

So, "I decided to put my attention to the cat" would entail solving some problem related to the cat; "I decided to put my attention on the cat" could mean spending quality time with the cat.

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  • I think this is a distinction not observed by many speakers, and one that cannot be depended on in interpreting another's words. Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 22:45
  • You may be right. I'm not sure I would say I "put my attention on" something—rather I "focused my attention on", "paid attention to", "devoted my attention to", "directed my intention to", etc. My intuition is that if I said I "put my attention to" something it would be to work hard at solving a problem, like "put my mind to" it. But a corpus search would be a good idea to investigate this.
    – nschneid
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 23:47

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