Hello! The Wiki article about "After Many a Summer" by Huxley has the following sentence: "Stoyte hires Dr. Obispo and his assistant Pete to research the secrets to long life in carp, crocodiles, and parrots. " 

I have three questions:

1. Is "to long" an infinitive or a part of the prepositional phrase "to long life in..."? I think it's an infinitive, otherwise there would be "a" before "long life".

2. Why is "carp" used in a singular form with no article? Shouldn't it be "in carps"?

3. Can I use "of" in the prepositional phrase "secrets to a long life".
 

Original Post
Alexey86 posted:
1. Is "to long" an infinitive or a part of the prepositional phrase "to long life in..."? I think it's an infinitive, otherwise there would be "a" before "long life".

Hi, Alexey—In the phrase "the secrets to long life," "to long life" is a prepositional phrase modifying "secrets," "long life" is the noun phrase that is the object of the preposition "to," and "long" is an adjective modifying "life."

Alexey86 posted:
2. Why is "carp" used in a singular form with no article? Shouldn't it be "in carps"?

Like the noun "fish," "carp" (freshwater fish) can be singular or plural in meaning.

Alexey86 posted:
3. Can I use "of" in the prepositional phrase "secrets to a long life".

If you changed "to" to "of," the meaning would change. "Secrets to a long life" refers to secrets to having a long life, whereas "secrets of a long life" refers to secrets one gains through living a long life.

Thank you, David! 


"to long life" is a prepositional phrase modifying "secrets,"

So, it would be a verbal phrase if I turned it into "the secrets of how to prolong life," wouldn't it?


"long" is an adjective modifying "life."

Why, then, is there no article here, since we're talking about a long life in animals, not about life in general? I've found an article entitled "The secrets to a long life."

What is the difference between "the secrets to long life" vs "to a long life"? 

And one more question, why is "long life in carp" used and not "long life of carp"?

Alexey86 posted:
So, it would be a verbal phrase if I turned it into "the secrets of how to prolong life," wouldn't it?

Yes, and "prolong" is different from "long." When "long" is a verb (rather than an adjective), it doesn't mean the same thing as "prolong." It means "desire" and collocates with "after" and "for": "She longs after him"; "She longs for it."

Alexey86 posted:


"long" is an adjective modifying "life."

Why, then, is there no article here, since we're talking about a long life in animals, not about life in general?

"Life" can be both count and noncount. Adjectives like "long" don't change that.

Alexey86 posted:

What is the difference between "the secrets to long life" vs "to a long life"?

There is no difference in meaning.

Alexey86 posted:

And one more question, why is "long life in carp" used and not "long life of carp"?

The creatures (carp, crocodiles, and parrots) are the site of the study of long life.

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