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I learned that you use "for -ing" and not a 'to' infinitive when you want to say the purpose of a tool, but I am not so sure about it.

People told me I should say:

This computer is for you to attend lectures. (1a)

or

This computer is for attending lectures. (1b)

but not

This computer is to attend lectures. (1c)

However, can't a 'to' infinitive alone be used as an adjective to indicate the purpose? For example, can't I say:

You have a computer to attend class. (2a)

instead of

You have a computer for you to attend class. (2b)

If I can, what do you think makes such a difference between the 1s and 2s?

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  • to plus an infinitive is not an adjective. You have a computer to [do something] is a verbal phrase. – Lambie May 24 at 17:39
  • I would much prefer something like "This computer is for you to use when you attend lectures.", or "This computer is for you to use when attending lectures.", or even "This computer is for you to use in (or for) lectures." But what happens the rest of the time? Is using the computer forbidden? – Michael Harvey May 24 at 19:08
  • Hi ! I got the idea of this sentence from my memory with my parents I used to play too much game🤣🤣 and I asked them to get me a computer telling them I needed one to attend lectures. – Karl May 24 at 19:13
  • As others have said, to + verb is a verb, not an adjective. Also, what you're saying is not clear. The way you've written this, it's like you need the computer to attend class, when clearly, you can attend a class without a computer just as well. Lastly why say computer when you mean laptop or tablet? You're not going to drag a desktop computer along with you to class. It's much better to say This laptop is to be used for schoolwork. – FeliniusRex May 24 at 20:46
  • 1
    "This computer is to attend lectures" suggests to me an image of the computer going to the lecture on its own! – Kate Bunting May 25 at 7:38
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I do not know where you got this idea that an infinitive cannot be used to indicate purpose.

You can borrow the car to go to school

is perfectly proper.

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  • I think the sticky point is better phrased as "The car is to go to school, not to drive your friends to the mall". instead of "The car is for going to school, not for driving your friends to the mall." – ColleenV May 24 at 20:55
  • @ColleenV Sorry to be dim. Are you disagreeing with my answer altogether or just suggesting that it could be phrased better? I am happy to edit or delete, but here I am not sure which you are recommending. – Jeff Morrow May 24 at 21:09
  • I'd say The car is for going to school, not for going to the mall. As long as the sentence is relatively short, for works well. – FeliniusRex May 24 at 21:45
  • @FeliniusRex So you would say “You can borrow the car to go to school” is not idiomatic but “You can borrow the card for going to school” is? – Jeff Morrow May 25 at 1:42
  • I’m not disagreeing with what you’ve said, but I think the OP is asking about a different construction. ‘This tool is for fixing things” vs “*This tool is to fix things”, but they aren’t asking about “You can use this tool to fix things”. – ColleenV May 25 at 1:52
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I think your confusion lies in the weird phrasing of the sentence. 1b) sounds okay, but 1a) does not.

A better way of phrasing 1a) would be:

You have this computer so that you can attend lectures.

or

This computer allows you to attend lectures

Then it is clear that you can use the infinitive for purpose.

1c) is not correct because you can't put an infinitive after "is". When you use "is", you need to have something that describes a state or action after that.

Vs. in 2a), the main action is "have":

You have a computer to attend class.

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