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My question is whether these sentences are each grammatical or not:

a) As a common language, English is good to communicate with you.
b) As a common language, English is good to communicate with you in.

In my view, a) and b) are both grammatical.

Specifically, "to communicate with you" in the sentence a) is an infinitive of specification working as an adverbial phrase that is just an adjunct, whereas the sentence b) is a so-called tough construction and "to communicate with you in" is the complement of the adjective "good" that works here as a so-called two-place (or transitive) adjective.

Am I right or wrong?

EDIT:

Thanks for the quick answer.

Infinitival relatives aside, infinitivals are always complements, not modifiers, since they must be licensed by the head.

If so, is c) wrong where d) is correct in the following examples?

c) “Less carbs” is better (than “few carbs”) to discuss the amount of whole carbs.
d) “Less carbs” is better (than “few carbs”) to discuss the amount of whole carbs with.

Example c), which I think has the same syntax as a), was actually a sentence I posted on the site linked below and that’s why I had a second thought that a) was correct as well, though I had a first intuition that a) was lacking the terminal preposition.

https://youtu.be/NfmsGlCGTEE?si=IBt8WJHLmbv0iG5v

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  • Why you used "in"??
    – Sam
    Sep 3, 2023 at 2:48
  • @Sam I would actually choose the version with "in" over the one without it. Compare OP's sentences with this one: "It is good to communicate with you in English as a common language." It just doesn't work without the preposition. I don't see why the preposition should go away when the sentence gets rearranged. Although, I do agree that ending the sentence with "in" sounds kind of awkward. Also: I wouldn't use the infinitive in either a) or b) -- it doesn't seem incorrect, but it does seem unusual. Sep 3, 2023 at 3:29
  • @Sam The more common way of expressing that idea would be "As a common language, English is good for communicating with you." Oddly enough, this version seems fine without the preposition "in." Sep 3, 2023 at 3:30
  • in there is an echo of "speak in". They are speaking in English. So: "What language shall we communicate in?" Sep 3, 2023 at 10:56
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    Let OP add a comment. I’m sorry b) is a poor sentence as English, but my focus is on its grammaticality. I picked up an original sentence from a short youtube clip and altered it to post this question. In the clip, a Japanese guy is talking online with a suspicious person who is out of sight. The invisible person, speaking in poor Japanese with an Asian-type accent, insists that he is an American. So, the Japanese challenged him to speak English saying “I think English is better to communicate with you.”
    – beancurdog
    Sep 5, 2023 at 14:13

2 Answers 2

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There is a difference between good for and good to.

good for can express the idea of suitability and good to can express the idea of advisability. Those abstract ideas can sometimes be very close to each other and difficult to tell apart, especially since it is always advisable to do what is suitable. Your example is blending the two ideas in a slightly unidiomatic manner.

The adjective good when it means "suitable" is accompanied by for, which takes a nominal complement:

A shovel is good for digging.

A walk after dinner is good for the digestion.

Strong rope is good for climbing.

The adjective good when it means "advisable (for someone)" is followed by to, which takes a verbal complement.

It is good (for you) to look before you leap.

Strong rope is good (for climbers) to bring on a climbing expedition.

English is suitable for communication as it is a common language:

As a common language, English is good for communicating in.superbly colloquial

As a common language, English is good for communication.

It is advisable to use English for communication when the speakers speak different native languages:

It is good to communicate in English as a common language.

It is good for us to communicate in English as a common language.

and the somewhat awkward, not ungrammatical yet not quite idiomatic, blended version where suitability and advisability are being blended into a salad dressing, since those for whom it is advisable to use English are present semantically but invisible:

English is good (for us, for someone) to communicate in.

English is good to communicate with.

Your second set of examples about "carbs"...

If less carbs is the subject of your sentence, you would speak of the suitability of the phrase using "better for":

Is “less carbs” better for the total amount of carbs in something?

And if you are asking whether it's advisable to use the phrase:

Is it better to say "less carbs" to refer to the total amount of carbs in something?

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a) As a common language, English is good [to communicate with you].

b) As a common language, English is good to communicate with you in.

b), with its terminal preposition "in", is correct.

The syntax you mentioned is not quite right: in both examples the bracketed expression is not an adverbial phrase functioning as an adjunct, but an infinitival clause functioning as complement of "good". Infinitival relatives aside, infinitivals are always complements, not modifiers, since they must be licensed by the head.

In b) the object of "in" is missing but understood as "English".

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