From two sentences I've written below, the first one is positively correct as it's cited from Longman dictionary. The grammatical validity of the second one, however, seems rather dubious knowing the other sentence already proved valid (if I didn't know that the first sentence is correct, I would say that the second one makes more sense to me and so it'd be the only correct version). Please let me know if the second sentence is correct.

She had nothing to do except spend money.

She had nothing to do except spending money.


I guess you would be aware with parallelism. Note the following sentences:

Incorrect- She visits the stores and spending money.

Correct- She visits the stores and spends money.

Correct- She is visiting the stores and spending money.

So, your 1st sentence is correct. To make your 2nd sentence correct, we would reframe it like-'She had been doing nothing except spending money.'

  • Thank you. That's very interesting. I know parallelism but I didn't know it applies here. Maybe it's because in my native language, we use a gerund in such a structure. I just have a question: in my sentence, should only the verbs "do" and "spend" be parallel (meaning changing the auxiliary verb "had" to "has", for example, wouldn't require any modifications in the rest of the sentence)?
    – user1555
    Sep 8 '13 at 14:53
  • You are right, changing 'had' to 'has' won't require any modification.
    – aarbee
    Sep 8 '13 at 15:53

The second sentence is not correct.

You could say "She wasn't doing anything except spending money".

The verbs should match, I believe.

  • 2
    Can you elaborate on this? I know what you mean by "the verbs should match" but it would probably help the OP if you illustrated this with examples.
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 7 '13 at 18:52

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