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Are both versions correct? Do they convey the same meaning?

I think board games are the best games to learn / for learning different subjects such as history, literature and science.

2 Answers 2

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Only "for learning" is correct.

In your example, you're confounding two different functions of "to learn".

One function is "in order to X", where X is the purpose for doing something mentioned elsewhere in the sentence. The structure is: [ clause + "in order to" + infinitive ].

Examples:

I put on my glasses in order to see better.
I had new windows installed in order to save money.

The other function is "to X" as an adjunct that modifies an adjective before it by specifying in what way the adjective applies. The noun that the adjective modifies becomes an object of the verb X.

Examples:

My mom is great to talk with about politics. ("mom" is the indirect object of "talk with")
Can I show you a better way to do that? ("way" is the direct object of "do")

In your sentence with "to learn", what's the object of "learn"? Is it "games"? Is it "different subjects"? It wants to be both, but cannot, so the grammar is bad.

You could, however, use both:

I think board games are the best games to learn for learning different subjects such as history, literature and science.

It's bad style to repeat "learn", but the grammar and meaning are correct. Since it's understood that to learn from a game, you have to learn the game itself, so "to learn" is unnecessary, and can be removed. This leaves your original sentence with "for learning".

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  • It seems perhaps "learning" a board game and "playing" a board game to learn about something else are getting confused in the question and answers.
    – user8356
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 14:57
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Correct: to learn

We use a to-infinitive form to express purpose.

They started their journey early to avoid the traffic.

I went to the market to buy some food. We borrowed money to start a new business. He has gone to England to learn English.

We use for + (verb + ing) to talk about a reason for something.

She couldn't speak for laughing. He wears the old trousers for painting.

This knife is used for cutting bread (function of the knife)

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  • No, the sentence, "I think board games are the best games to learn different subjects such as history, literature and science" is bad grammar. The structure [ "for" + "-ing" ] can be used to express a goal.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 15:56

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