What preposition should one use with “responsible” when followed by a verb? I have seen that for” should be used when followed by a noon (except when meaning “answerable to someone”).

I noted that using a gerund works, as it basically transforms the verb into a noon:

this person is responsible for answering the phone

this component is responsible for retrieving the data

But it seems a bit awkward to me.

I have also seen “responsible to” + infinitive but I wonder if it might just be incorrect:

Can I be responsible to pay off the debts of my deceased spouse?

(from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/am-i-responsible-to-pay-off-the-debts-of-my-deceased-spouse-en-1467/)

  • That example of “responsible to” + infinitive is not colloquial. But! Someone capable of being trusted can be described as responsible. So you might say, "I am looking for someone responsible to collect my children from school each day." It means, "I need a responsible person to collect..." When you have found such a person, he/she will be responsible for collecting the children. Dec 8, 2021 at 16:39
  • @OldBrixtonian in your example “responsible” and “to collect” are part of separate grammatical groups. You could even remove “responsible” which is just a qualifier for “someone”. A similar example I found is “It would have been responsible to help your mother.”. In those examples it just happens that “responsible” is followed by “to” but they are not directly linked together.
    – Didier L
    Dec 8, 2021 at 17:06
  • It wasn't clear to me from your question that you understood that! You said you had also seen "responsible to" + infinitive. I wanted to explain where and why you might have seen those words. Dec 8, 2021 at 18:19
  • @OldBrixtonian yes but that’s why I gave a concrete example 😉
    – Didier L
    Dec 8, 2021 at 18:25
  • Yes. You gave an example of the 'incorrect' use of those words. Seowjooheng Singapore explained that responsible to + infinitive was not found in the few dictionaries s/he consulted. I commented that you might, however, see those words in a different context. Dec 8, 2021 at 22:36

1 Answer 1


The pattern responsible for + gerund is fine, as shown in several dictionaries including Macmillan Dictionary

You can also use the pattern responsible for doing something: He was responsible for ensuring that the organization maintained its independence.

On the other hand, the pattern responsible to + infinitive is not found in the few dictionaries I have consulted.

Also, this is mentioned on this site that though responsible to do something is grammatical, it is unlikely to be used.

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