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for example:

A: How old are you?

B: I'm 20 years old

What's the function of the previous mini-dialogue?

Should the answer be:

Function: asking and answering questions

or

Function: ask and answer questions

  • 3
    Maybe this is a general concept I'm just missing but what does it mean by "What is the function?" Could you give us some source information so that we can understand? As knowledgeable of the situation, it seems the function or "purpose" is to find out how old someone is. – Catija May 25 '15 at 2:00
  • The function or purpose as Catija proposed of these dialogues might be: a. asking and answering questions or b. to ask and to answer questions. Although, I would prefer: purpose - obtaining information/to obtain information. – Lucky May 25 '15 at 3:01
  • @Lucky I think your comment is exactly what the OP needs and as such should be made into an answer. – André Chalella May 25 '15 at 21:30
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    Oh, you need to use the -ing form. – Catija May 26 '15 at 2:55
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    Either the -ing or to infinitive; you can't use bare infinitive (without to) like in your example. (This might be a case of licensing, which is somewhat complicated and I hoped someone more competent would pick this one up, but since this didn't happen I'll come up with some references for an answer :-) @AndréNeves ) – Lucky May 26 '15 at 3:10
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If you intended to put these in a sentence, with the word function:

the job that something is designed to do

The function of advertising is to create a unique image for your company.

In your example:

The function of this mini dialogue is to ask and answer questions.

This Ngram shows that the most common word after "function is" is "to" - which indicates that infinitive should follow this construction.

("The function of this mini dialogue is asking and answering questions" - I'm not sure if this on is any good -someone who knows more about licensing should say; to-infinitive sounds better to me).


If you use the word purpose:

  • purpose of:

The purpose of this dictionary is to help students of English.

  • the purpose of doing something:

The President’s trip will have the purpose of negotiating a peace deal.

  • for the purpose of doing something:

He went there for the purpose of making business contacts.

In your example:

The purpose of this mini dialogue is to ask and answer questions.

This mini dialogue has/serves the purpose of asking and answering questions.

We engaged in this mini dialogue for the purpose of asking and answering questions.

If you just want to use this format (that looks like a form) - both:

Function: asking and answering questions

and

Function: to ask and answer questions

are just fine.

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