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A sentence from a high school textbook :

'Originally, matches on Boxing Day were played against local rivals to avoid teams and their fans having to travel long distances after Christmas Day.'

What is the grammatical usage (or should I call it) of 'having' in this sentence?

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  • "To avoid [the teams] having to..." means "so that they don't have to..." Jul 4, 2023 at 8:15
  • There are a lot of similar questions about this use of "have to" to express obligation. See e.g. this.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 4, 2023 at 15:00

1 Answer 1

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The grammatical function of having is gerund, or gerund participle, so it functions as a noun.

I prefer the possessive form for teams and fans, so as to be clear that the aim here is to avoid the travelling and not the teams and their fans.

Originally, matches on Boxing Day were played against local rivals to avoid [the] teams' and their fans' having to travel long distances after Christmas Day.

I have also added the definite article as Kate has suggested.

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