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Hello, Grammar Exchange members!

I ran into the following sentence and had a question about how to use the word 'comfortable' in a sentence.

a. Americans have always been quite comfortable getting their food on the streets.

I was just curious about whether a gerund can be used after 'comfortable.' I know it can be used after 'comfortable', otherwise it wouldn't be written that way in a book.

But when I looked up the word 'comfortable' in dictionaries (Longman/Oxford/Macmillan/Cambridge/Collins), I couldn't find the example sentences in which 'comfortable + gerund' is used. All I can find is 'comfortable with/about sth.'

So my question here is 'with' or 'about'  is omitted between 'comfortable' and 'getting' in the sentence above?

I'd like to hear your opinion about this.

Thanks in advance

-KDog

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Hi, KDog,

@KDog posted:

I ran into the following sentence and had a question about how to use the word 'comfortable' in a sentence.

a. Americans have always been quite comfortable getting their food on the streets.

I was just curious about whether a gerund can be used after 'comfortable.' I know it can be used after 'comfortable', otherwise it wouldn't be written that way in a book.

But when I looked up the word 'comfortable' in dictionaries (Longman/Oxford/Macmillan/Cambridge/Collins), I couldn't find the example sentences in which 'comfortable + gerund' is used. All I can find is 'comfortable with/about sth.'

So my question here is 'with' or 'about'  is omitted between 'comfortable' and 'getting' in the sentence above?

Actually, "getting" is a present participle there. If it appears after a preposition like "with" or "about," then it can be called a gerund, because it resembles a noun.

There are lots of examples of "be/feel comfortable + V-ing." See, for example, this short list.

Without a preposition, the V-ing refers to the subject and can be placed at the beginning. Instead, no such placement is possible with a preposition, in which case it is possible to refer to somebody else or to give more nominal force to the V-ing:

b. He feels comfortable getting his own food.

b1. Getting his own food, he feels comfortable.

c. He feels comfortable with their getting their own food.

d. He feels comfortable with getting his own food (=with the procurement of his own food).

Though syntactically different, (b) and (d) are similar in meaning.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator
@KDog posted:

. . .  a. Americans have always been quite comfortable getting their food on the streets.

I was just curious about whether a gerund can be used after 'comfortable.' I know it can be used after 'comfortable', otherwise it wouldn't be written that way in a book.

. . . So my question here is 'with' or 'about'  is omitted between 'comfortable' and 'getting' in the sentence above?

Actually, "getting" is a present participle there. If it appears after a preposition like "with" or "about," then it can be called a gerund, because it resembles a noun.

There are lots of examples of "be/feel comfortable + V-ing." See, for example, this short list.

Without a preposition, the V-ing refers to the subject and can be placed at the beginning. Instead, no such placement is possible with a preposition, in which case it is possible to refer to somebody else or to give more nominal force to the V-ing:



. . . Though syntactically different, (b) and (d) are similar in meaning.

Hi, KDog and Gustavo—I agree with Gustavo that "getting" is a present participle in (a) and that it is possible to analyze the construction as not involving an omitted preposition (one linguist has recently labeled such clauses "integrated participle clauses").

However, I believe the omitted-preposition analysis is also viable. That is the way such constructions have traditionally been analyzed. Notice that adding  "with" would not render "getting their food on the streets" a gerund. Gerunds are nouns, and nouns never have direct objects ("their food"). Only verbs do.

Regarding placing the phrases at the beginning, I think that it is possible to do so with or without the preposition, but that there is a difference in meaning. I find (1) and (2) below to be equivalent in meaning. But (3) seems to me to be more equivalent in meaning to (4) than to (2):

(1)  They are comfortable getting their food there.
(2)  With getting their food there, they are comfortable.

(3) Getting their food there, they are comfortable.
(4) Because they get their food there, they are comfortable.

Last edited by David, Moderator

Hi, KDog and Gustavo—I agree with Gustavo that "getting" is a present participle in (a) and that it is possible to analyze the construction as not involving an omitted preposition (one linguist has recently labeled such clauses "integrated participle clauses").

However, I believe the omitted-preposition analysis is also viable. That is the way such constructions have traditionally been analyzed. Notice that adding  "with" would not render "getting their food on the streets" a gerund. Gerunds are nouns, and nouns never have direct objects ("their food"). Only verbs do.

Regarding placing the phrases at the beginning, I think that it is possible to do so with or without the preposition, but that there is a difference in meaning. I find (1) and (2) below to be equivalent in meaning. But (3) seems to me to be more equivalent in meaning to (4) than to (2):

(1)  They are comfortable getting their food there.
(2)  With getting their food there, they are comfortable.

(3) Getting their food there, they are comfortable.
(4) Because they get their food there, they are comfortable.

Thank you for letting me see this from a different angle. I really appreciate it. Today I've learned something new again! Love this website!

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