This question has been sent in by J. Ebert.

Someone edited my copy. I took issue.

Version 1: The board is responsible to determine the budget.

Version 2: The board is responsible for determining the budget.

Question 1: Which is correct?

Both seem grammatically correct to me.

Question 2: If both are grammatically correct, should one be preferred, or is it purely a matter of personal choice?

Question 3: If one should be preferred, why?
Original Post
The preposition that goes with "responsible," that connects it to its complement, is "for." "For" is followed by a noun, a noun phrase, or the gerund form of the verb.

"¢ You Are Responsible for Making Sure Our Mail Gets to You. Posted Aug 26, 2004, 1:45 AM ET by Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. ...

If "responsible" is followed by "to," the "to" is a preposition, and its object refers to the person or persons owed the responsibility.

"¢ "When asked to define responsible government, most people intuitively think that it means that government is responsible to the people it governs"

Or, the prepositional phrase with "to" (referring to the people) is then followed by one with "for," showing what the responsibility refers to:

"¢ Recruit Petty Officers are responsible to RDCs for the proper executionof any orders they receive. ... The Recruit YN is responsible to RDCs for: ... -

You can see examples of "responsible for" in several references, including these:

"¢ the American Heritage Dictionary, in an example in the usage note: "I am responsible for the ship's safety"

"¢ the Collins COBUILD entry for "responsible": "If you are responsible for something.....,"

"¢ the BBI Dictionary listed under "responsible": "responsible for"

"¢ the Longman Essential Activator: "be responsible for something"

"¢ the Cambridge Grammar: "Adjective + 'for' : responsible....."


In spite of the fact that all references that we consulted show "responsible" as an adjective followed by the preposition "for" + a noun or a gerund, there are numerous examples on Google showing "responsible" + an infinitive, as in Version 1 of your example sentences:

"¢ After an engagement, who is responsible to make the first overture to the other family, the parents of the bride or the parents of the groom?

This sentence could also be constructed – better constructed, according to our references -- : After an engagement, who is responsible for making the first overture....."


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Houghton Mifflin Company. 2003

The Collins COBUILD English Dictionary. HarperCollins. 1995

The BBI Dictionary of English Word Combinations, by Benson, Benson and Ilson. John Benjamins. 1997

The Longman Essential Activator. Addison Wesley Longman Ltd. 1997

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, by Huddleston and Pullum. Cambridge University Press. 2002

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