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Planting a glyphosate-resistant crop commits a farmer to using that herbicide for the season, probably to the exclusion of all other herbicides and other weed-control practices. (TOEFL)

I'm not sure how to read this sentence. Should I read it as 1 or 2:

  1. ... commits... to... to... ("to"s are in coordination/ at the same level.)
  2. using... to the exclusion...
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    Farmer Bob planted a glyphosate-resistant crop, therefore he must use that herbicide for the season, and probably cannot use any other herbicide. Jun 12, 2023 at 19:28

2 Answers 2

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The two tos are unrelated. Any parallel or coordination is illusory.

"To commit someone to something" is an elliptical way of saying "to force someone to commit to something".

If we build our headquarters in Toronto, that commits us to frequent international flights.

The second phrasing is a little more difficult to articulate. Generally, if something is done "to the [nominalization] of X", that means "and had the effect of [verbing] X" or "causing X to experience [nominalization]".

The headquarters was built in New York, to the disappointment of many.

Hence, we could paraphrase your original quote:

If a farmer plants a glysophate-resistant crop, she commits to using that herbicide for the season, probably requiring that she exclude all other herbicides and other weed-control practices.

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  • ""To commit someone to something" is an elliptical way of saying "to force ..."" I disagree here. Committing inherently means the inability to back out, which inherently implies the "forcing" (when trying to back out) that you've listed as the allegedly full wording. It's all part of the definition of "committing to"
    – Flater
    Jun 13, 2023 at 3:27
  • i interpret the sentence like it has 2 level, i don't know the words to describe this but based on my understanding and reading your answer it's like cause and effect relation i.stack.imgur.com/LOEkN.png Jun 13, 2023 at 8:29
  • @encryptoferia Indeed Jun 13, 2023 at 11:45
  • @Flater The choice to commit, however, can be forced or unforced. Once you get on the plane, you're committing to going all the way to its destination — but that doesn't mean you can't back out of getting on the plane. :) Jun 13, 2023 at 11:48
  • @LukeSawczak: You're moving the goalposts, that's not part of the presented phrase. The focus is on what happens when you plant a glyphosate-resistant crop; it doesn't talk about making a farmer making the choice whether to plant a glyphosate-resistant crop or not.
    – Flater
    Jun 13, 2023 at 22:52
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The two instances of "to" are not at the same level. Here "using that herbicide for the season, probably to the exclusion of [other stuff]" is a single verb phrase, and is what the farmer is being committed to.

We could rewrite the sentence so that they were at the same level, with little change in meaning:

Planting a glyphosate-resistant crop commits a farmer to using that herbicide for the season, and probably to excluding all other herbicides and weed-control practices.

Here each "to" goes with "commits" and introduces a separate verb phrase.

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  • This answer (especially the quote) looks like a reworded version of the accepted answer.
    – RonJohn
    Jun 12, 2023 at 14:20
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    @RonJohn I disagree, especially about the quote the whole point of which is that it still has two instances of "to", unlike anything in the previous answer. But by all means downvote if you think that. Jun 12, 2023 at 14:24

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