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While looking for gerund and infinitive tests, I have found an interesting question whose answer isn't as simple as I think. In the question presented in bold below, we're asked to write the appropriate form of the verb work in the blank: work, to work, working.

My sister decided to take a job in the summer _____ in the local cinema to earn some extra money.

I can't see any reason why "to work" cannot go in that place, however, it has the gerund form of the verb as the answer.

Would you mind helping that why the infinitive doesn't seem OK there?

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  • I'd avoid a sentence with three infinitives in a row: To take, to work, to earn. I'd prefer breaking it up with working. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 13:28
  • "to"+infinitive expresses a goal or purpose in this context, e.g. "He bought a car to travel the world", "He took a job to earn money".
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 15:04
  • Ok. But what about these? "He took a job to work at Tesla's battery factory." , "He landed a job to work for ESPN." "I got a job to work at Devils Tower National Monument."
    – qukki mukki
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 15:33
  • Would "working" make a difference if used in place of "to work"?
    – qukki mukki
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 16:49

2 Answers 2

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Take a job to work in the local cinema
This implies that the the reason you took the job was to work. Most people don't take jobs for the simple pleasure of working. Specific to your example, her purpose is to earn money. This construction is seldom used

Take a job working in the local cinema
In this case, "working in the local cinema" describes the job she took.

NGrams shows that the second usage is far more common than the first.

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  • Lillia, a spy, took a job sweeping floors to work in the CIA's Mumsword Building. Helga, a maintenance engineer, took a job sweeping floors, working in the CIA's Mumsword Building. Lillia took the job so she could work at the CIA (and now does). Helga took the job and works at the CIA.
    – EllieK
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 16:21
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My sister decided to take a job in the summer _____ in the local cinema to earn some extra money.

As commented, with 'to work', we will have three infinitives. I find it quite clumsy.

Also, there is a slight difference between the infinitive form and the participle form. In this case, the former stresses on the 'work'; 'to work' is an aim. The latter stresses on the effect of working.

If working in the cinema serves just to meet the aim, to earn some extra money, then we say

My sister decided to take a job in the summer, working in the local cinema to earn some extra money.

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