I don't understand the use of "about" in the phrase "debate to have about the wisdom" - could it be removed without affecting the original meaning?

Sam Harris tweeted:

There's an important debate to have about the wisdom of kicking Trump off @twitter. I still believe that it should have happened years ago and that we've paid a terrible price for the delay. But for the moment, all I want to say is:

Thanks, @jack .

  • 2
    have (verb) + [a] debate (noun phrase) + about (preposition) + noun phrase is the underlying structure here. The second noun phrase in this case is "the wisdom of kicking Trump off Twitter".
    – legatrix
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


A debate about something is a debate addressed to a paricular topic. In this sentence the infinitive verb is between the words "debate" and "about", but "about" is still needed to enable the topic of the debate to be specified. There are other expressions that could be used, for example "on", "concerning", or "regarding". If the word is just dropped the sentence no longer makes sense.

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