1

1

The graduate student had nothing in mind except finishing his thesis.

2

The mason will not do any work except giving the order.

Both sentences use -ing of verb finish and give. I know these sentences are grammatically correct. But I have two doubt here.

1. What if we use infinitive after except "The mason will not do any work except to give the order". Does the use of infinitive makes it incorrect?

  1. Are these Participle finishing and giving used as a gerund or as a noun?
2
  1. Except may take an infinitival clause in this case, because what is “excepted” is a complement of the verb do, and do can in this case be ‘recategorized’ as an auxiliary taking an infinitive complement. However, it should be an ‘unmarked’ infinitive, one without to:

    okThe mason did not give the order.
    okThe mason did everything except give the order.
    okThe mason will not do any work except give the order.

    With another verb, however, this won’t work—finish, for instance does not take infinitival complements, with or without to:

    okThe mason did not finish repairing the wall.
    ? The mason did not finish (to) repair the wall.
    okThe mason did not finish anything except repairing the wall.
    ? The mason did not finish anything except (to) repair the wall.

    Note that I mark these ‘improper’ infinitivals with ‘?’. You are likely to encounter them in unprepared speech, because in speech people don’t have time to construct complex thoughts perfectly; but they should be avoided in writing. (And to tell the truth, even if you do use them most people won’t notice, or care.)

  2. The -ing forms here act as gerunds. In traditional grammar, a gerund is, by definition, an -ing form which acts as a noun and a verb at the same time; a more precise description would be that a gerund is a verb in its -ing form heading a clause which acts as a noun.


? marks an utterance as dubiously acceptable.

  • Thank you. I get your point. But can you please elaborate "complement rule"(when we can use infinitive after "except") with some more example. – starun008 Dec 28 '14 at 18:58
  • @starun008 There is no general rule. Each individual verb selects its own set of complement forms, and you have to learn them verb by verb. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 28 '14 at 19:56
  • What about "The mason did everything except giving the order"? – Ehsan88 Apr 19 '18 at 14:20

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