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The first rule

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 23, 2004

In Reply to: Heart's a flutter posted by R. Berg on April 22, 2004

: : : : : : : : Here in Pakistan I have often found people using the first expression, while to me the second one sounds more appropriate. Will somebody please let me know which one of them is better/correct? How does the one differs from the other? Thanx.

: : : : : : : You can attract a client by being committed to satisfy him. An act in the future.
: : : : : : : You can retain his costum by remaining committed to satisfying him. A present, continuing, unfinished action.

: : : : : : I hardly dare to disagree with Henry, whom I respect greatly, but I think we have to distinguish here between how people speak and what is grammatically appropriate. If you are committed, it is probably to something, and that something is not an infinitive. A gerund is a thing, or a stand-in for a thing. So grammatically, I opt for "committed to satisfying." But as I said, people often make up their syntax as they go along. Incidentally, you can be committed to your customers' satisfaction. Or, if you are a building contractor, to your customers' dissatisfaction. SS

: : : : : SS That's a very reasonable point! I can only add, very defensively, that the use of phrasal verbs may often be idiomatic rather than grammatic. And I don't know why anyone would want to retain a client's costume! Henry

: : : : The first rule of correspondence, mostly honored in the breach, should probably also be the rule for posting on Web sites. I'm referring to myself, not to Henry. The way people actually use the words "commit" and "commitment" is what counts. Lately I've been hearing "committed" used not just with the copulative verb, as in "I'm committed," but also as, e.g., "I've committed." In this case, there's an ellipsis, namely, of "myself." "I've committed [myself] to go to Birmingham next week." We can also say (I think), "I'm committed to going to Birmingham." We can also probably say "I was committed to go to Birmingham," and whether it is grammatical or not it will certainly be understood. (I still dislike it, but lexicographers are sworn to be neutral.) "He had a commitment to go to Birmingham." Clear enough. Correct? Let's take a poll! SS

: : : Who needs a poll? The OED doesn't give any senses of "commit" as intransitive, except an obsolete one that doesn't match your Birmingham example.

: : :::I just love to see a good fight! And when Smoky says 'copulative verb' my heart goes all a flutter!

: Your HEART, huh?

: Actually, I didn't intend my post as a move in a fight. I meant to make two points: such questions are better settled by dictionaries than by polls, and Smokey's suspicions about this new intransitive "commit" are correct.

I forgot to mention what the first rule was, namely: Type out your message carefully, then don't send it for at least 24 hours--perhaps never. When I fail to follow the rule (which is most times) I often regret it. And I'm committed to that belief. SS