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Context: We asked a friend to translate "Me gustan las uvas" (spanish) to English. The literal translation would be "I like grapes". He used the phrase: "I am excited to eat grapes".

So, we had a debate about whether it's correct to use "I am excited to eat" to imply that you like something.

As far as I understand, "I am excited to" implies a future event and does not indicate whether you like grapes or if you have eaten them before.

Question: Is it correct to say "I am excited to eat grapes" in order to imply that you like eating grapes?

Thanks

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    Your friend has a food fetish :-) Nov 23, 2023 at 14:05
  • It's grammatical, but it would be an unusual thing to say, unless your friend had never tasted grapes before. That's what I would assume he meant.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 23, 2023 at 21:10
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    Thank you, @Fattie . Question edited. Nov 28, 2023 at 8:34
  • nice question!!
    – Fattie
    Nov 28, 2023 at 14:52

6 Answers 6

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Short answer, no. You're right, "I am excited to X" usually means that you are doing X right now or are going to in the future, and that prospect excites you.

Now, the whole thing is a bit odd because it's hard to imagine anyone getting very excited about eating grapes... but let's try to ignore that. Let's assume that this person really, really loves their grapes, and gets excited when they eat them. It would be possible to say "eating grapes excites me." And while progressives (-ing) and infinitives are often interchangeable, it doesn't work here because "I'm excited to ___" is already its own usage about looking forward, anticipation. "I'm excited to be in Boston for the first time." "I'm excited to go to college next year." You could even be in the very act of eating grapes and say "I'm excited to be eating grapes," but you're making a statement about this present moment, not in general.

Also: From what I understand of Spanish, gustar just suggests pleasure, not necessarily excitement, so it wasn't maybe a great translation choice anyway. The literal literal translation might be "grapes please me," but the most obvious one is just "I like grapes."

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    Or, for more enthusiasm, "I love grapes." Nov 23, 2023 at 9:16
  • @AndrewMorton I’d say that’s me encantar. Nov 23, 2023 at 12:51
  • @AndyBonner the conjugated first person would be "me encanta" as in "a mi me encanta X" encantar and others -ar, -er, and -ir refer to the unconjugated infinitive ending of the verbs
    – Daviid
    Nov 24, 2023 at 8:33
  • @Daviid Yes, that’s correct Nov 24, 2023 at 14:50
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I would agree that being excited to eat grapes may not necessarily indicate you like grapes, although in most contexts it would. It would be a reasonable and usually correct interpretation to expect that one is excited to eat grapes because they like grapes. But there are other conceivable scenarios where you might be excited to eat grapes but not actually like them, for example if you are trying grapes for the first time, or if you are going to win a prize by eating grapes. It would be rather unusual, but possible, for one to not like grapes yet be excited to eat them.

None of this has anything to do with grammar, though - both sentences are perfectly grammatical, and grammar doesn't deal with meaning. There are grammatical sentences which are semantically nonsense, like "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously". Whether the sentence means what you intend (or means anything at all, for that matter) is entirely separate from whether the sentence is grammatical.

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    Someone who's being released from prison could be excited to experience something ordinary to others because it's their first opportunity in many years.
    – barbecue
    Nov 24, 2023 at 0:44
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Grammatically correct but not a phrase that is likely to be used in English. Broadly I would say not the best translation.

However, note that Spanish people eat grapes in the countdown to the new year (like a grape a second, it's quite hard, especially if you are laughing a lot). So you could be excited for the new year/new year celebrations, which consist of eating grapes. I would be very excited to eat grapes if I was doing new years in Spain/with Spanish people as I would be trying to laugh less and actually eat any grapes.

Probably not relevant to this particular translation though.

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It is a grammatically correct sentence.

I don't know Spanish, but from what you say it sounds like it is not a good translation of the original sentence. "I am excited to do X" is much more emphatic than "I like to do X". I like to eat grapes too, but I wouldn't say that I am excited about the idea. That would be too extreme. Or going the other way, someone might say, "I was excited to win a gold medal in the Olympics". If he said, "I like that I won a gold medal", that would sound like he didn't really care all that much. Like winning the gold medal was only as important to him as, say, eating some grapes.

I would be surprised if anyone was really "excited" to eat grapes. That seems extreme. But it's possible. Someone might really, really like grapes. Or it could be an exaggeration to make some point. Like, "Grapes are my absolute favorite food. I like to eat other fruit but I am excited to eat grapes." Maybe.

"Excited to" does not imply a future event. It is present tense. So it could refer to something you are doing now. Like if someone said, "I am excited to be here today." Or it could be an "eternal present". Like if we said, "Gravity keeps the Earth in orbit around the Sun", we used the present tense, "keeps", but it is an eternal present. Gravity kept the Earth in orbit in the past, it keeps it in orbit now, and it will keep it in orbit indefinitely into the future. If someone said, "I am excited to eat grapes", I would interpret that as an eternal present. He was excited to eat them in the past, he is excited to be eating them now, and he expects to be excited to eat them for the foreseeable future.

If you were talking about an exclusively future event, you would say "I will be excited to ..." or "I would be excited if I ...".

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No, it is not normal English. I for one would say it is grammatically incorrect but that is because I take a broad view of what "grammatical" means in line with modern linguistics; however, if your position is that there is nothing in your phrase that is clearly ruled out by say, the grammar you have been using to prepare for your high school exam, then OK, let us say that it is grammatically admissible in a narrow sense of the term.

Even more than any accent you might have, usage such as this immediately gives you away as a non-native speaker. If the (lofty, admirable) goal is not to utter sentences that would sound odd to the ear of a native speaker, then this is one to avoid.

Why not? my foreign students always ask, hoping for the Grand Rule that will finally unlock the English language for them.

Well, I eat grapes indicates a habit (here: a taste for grapes): if you offer them, I will not turn them down, and it will be the same next week or next year. I am excited on the other hand tends to refer to the matter at hand, a passing affliction that we are living through as of this moment.

The two don't quite match, and that's what sounds "off" about your phrase.

(But wait, I hear you object, this mismatch is a semantic matter, whereas I was asking about syntax. That's what I meant about a broad view of grammar just now: syntax often shades into semantics, especially in a context-sensitive language such as English.)

Whenever I hear "I am (so) excited to" I can be 99% sure the next word is going to be "be" and 80% sure the very next one is "here" - otherwise it will almost always be some present continuous form. So:

I am so excited to be eating grapes.

Is good English. But you will still sound like a martian, because the normal thing to say is something along the lines of:

I just love these grapes.

These grapes are really good.

You got grapes? They're my favourite! Can I have some?

Final tip: forget about grammar. Focus instead on stock phrases.

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It is, at the very least, odd. But it's still acceptable English.

It would, in fact, be possible for somebody to say that they were excited to be able to eat fresh grapes or excited to be able to pick grapes from the vine, because they were the harbinger of a bountiful harvest after the rigour and hard work of a hot Summer. And after the harvest comes the vintage, and the pleasures of Autumn and Winter...

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Bosom friend of the Maturing Sun.

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