1) Obama didn't really defend them on any grounds other than doing his part to placate the Republicans. (The New Yorker)

2) There is no alternative other than doing nothing and letting a patient die. (The New Yorker - science) 

Why other than + gerund-participle here? 

To the best of my knowledge, than, except etc are matrix licensed prepositions and the complements of these prepositions are licenced by some other elements in the matrix clause as in the sentence, I don't intend to do anything except to wait for news. 

I intent to wait for news. The verb intend licensed "to wait for news".

Which element licensed "doing" after other than in the first and second sentences that I took from The New Yorker?

 

Original Post

Hi, Saifuddin,

I see that the gerund is the correct form because of its nominal value, which relates it back to the noun before "other than": grounds  and alternative.

- The only reason for defending them was doing his part to placate the Republicans.

- The only alternative is doing nothing and letting a patient die.

David might be able to give you a more complete answer, though.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

I find both infinitive and gerund-participle are possible for the second sentence. Other than tends to have the behaviour of normal preposition and matrix licenced preposition.

Consider -

There is no alternative other than to do nothing and let a patient die. ( We have an alternative to do nothing..) 

There is no alternative other than doing nothing and letting a patient die. (other than licensed the gerund-participle)

There is no choice but to leave. (matrix licensed) 

Last edited by Saifuddin
Saifuddin posted:

Other than tends to have the behaviour of normal preposition and matrix licenced preposition.

Unlike a normal preposition, other than can sometimes take a that-clause as complement:

1a) Obama didn't really defend them on any grounds other than that he was doing his part to placate the Republicans.

It would be awkward, however, if not ungrammatical, to try use a that-clause after other than in (2). The difference between the two cases seems to lie in the difference in the noun to which other than relates and whether that noun can be specified by a that-clause and/or an infinitive or gerund.

Last edited by David, Moderator

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