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First example:

Leibnitz beat Newton to publication by three years

or

Leibnitz beat Newton to making it public by three years

Second example: imagine two men are dueling and one wins the duel by killing the other, which is the correct comment to make?

He beat him to the shot

or

He beat him to firing the shot

I have seen the first sentence of each example before, I was wondering if it is correct to use the second sentences as well and why.

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As @Smock mentions, these phrases have slightly different meanings. In both examples, the formersounds more common to my ears, whilst the latter -- although technically correct -- means something different, and perhaps by coincidence quite rarely expressed.

I would say that in both cases the former example (i.e. "beat ... to publication" and "beat him to the shot") would be more palatable to a native-speakers ears.

  • thanks for the explanation – Fred Jul 25 at 17:10

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