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She pulled her toolbox toward her on the table, fishing through it for no other reason than to keep her hands busy.

If this sentence use "than doing", does it sound natural?

... fishing through it for no other reason than keeping her hands busy.

2 Answers 2

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Using a gerund is grammatically correct in this context, but the to-form also conveys a sense of purpose, like "in order to", which is more appropriate as a reason.

According to this NGRAM graph, "reason than to keep" is about ten times as common as "reason than keeping".

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    I'd prefer the first. The second sounds just a little bit awkward or stilted to my ear. Other uses of "than" + gerund are more natural, however. (eg. "There is no higher priority than keeping the children safe."
    – BadZen
    Sep 3, 2020 at 6:04
  • @BadZen in your example, the meaning is not "in order to", and that may be what biases in favour of to keep in the OP's sentence.
    – JavaLatte
    Sep 4, 2020 at 7:59
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Yes it sounds normal. It is used in general texts in numerous newspapers.

Link showing sources

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    Simply noticing that colocations of "than" and "keeping" occur does not necessarily make it OK in the specific case given!
    – BadZen
    Sep 3, 2020 at 6:03

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