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Phrasal verbs/help

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Phrasal verbs/help
Message from angrepa posted on 28-09-2013 at 01:02:18 (D | E | F)

I´ve got a doubt. Exercise 101326 - No.4 "Mark took to drink after..."
Why "drink" and not "drinking"?
I consider "to" as a preposition and I think it should be followed by -ing form.
I'll appreciate your answer. Maybe I´m mistaken.

Edited by lucile83 on 28-09-2013 06:58

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from irish21, posted on 28-09-2013 at 01:44:21 (D | E)
'take to drink' is an idiom.
Have a look here: Link


Re: Phrasal verbs/help from simplicius, posted on 28-09-2013 at 02:12:59 (D | E)
Indeed take to drink is an idiom, you can also say take to drinking, but take to drink is more common, see ngram


Edited by simplicius on 28-09-2013 02:14

Edited by lucile83 on 28-09-2013 07:04

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from angrepa, posted on 29-09-2013 at 16:13:01 (D | E)
Thank you for your explanation. I looked it up in the link you suggested.
My best regards

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from aneth-estragon, posted on 29-09-2013 at 16:54:49 (D | E)
ngram is a fascinating tool but can be misleading... let's be cautious!
For example, when I ran it for "taken to drink / drinking" or "took to drink / drinking", I got a different graph from the one you got with "take to drink / drinking".
So I clicked on the link for "take a drink", to check what kind of occurrences were used and I found out what probably confused the figures:
"What will you take to drink?"

I personaly would say "He took to drinking after his divorce" but we'd better wait for some natives' insight.

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from simplicius, posted on 29-09-2013 at 17:26:30 (D | E)
Dear Aneth-Estragon,

I don't think your objection is fair. Ngram is a statistical tool. It searches for a given expression in a given corpus, and returns the number of occurrence as a function of time in a graph. It does that well (incredibly well if you consider the size of the corpus).

Of course it's not clever, it is for you to be clever and to formulate your query so as to minimize 'false positives' such as the one you noted. But, I disagree with you conclusion here. The requests you made yield different, but roughly equivalent graphs. They confirm the request I posted here.

If you want to check whether the requests yieds results which are not relevant, you can do so, you have access to the actual list of quotations. And in this case, you are being a little disingenuous, you do get the odd result out once in a while, but the main bulk of the occurrences do correspond exactly with the expression under scrutiny.

Lastly, setting aside Ngram, this idiom is well-documented. So +1 for Ngram, as far as I'm concerned.

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from aneth-estragon, posted on 29-09-2013 at 17:38:23 (D | E)
Hello Simplicius,
I certainly meant no offense towards ngram It does what it's required to do, that's for sure.
Let's have a look at what flesh and bone people have to say. Here is a discussion between natives about our issue. If they never came to an agreement, at least it's good fun to read about their feelings

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from simplicius, posted on 29-09-2013 at 18:24:55 (D | E)
Hi Aneth (if I may make so bold),
The conversation you are referring to is indeed very funny, in particular there's the suggestion that "he took to drinking when his wife died" might mean that, each time his wife died, he drank to celebrate the event. Why not, if we are talking about Henry VIII...
Let me be clear, I have no vested interest in the take to drinking/take to drink controversy. Should they write "Simplicius took to drinking when google shut down Ngram" in my obituary, I would take no exception.

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from aneth-estragon, posted on 29-09-2013 at 18:56:12 (D | E)
Dear Simplicius,
(you may, you may!)
Would you agree that "take to drink" is an idiom that means "become addicted to alcohol", whereas "take to drinking" is made of "take to" (= get into the habit of) + drinking (a cup of tea, for instance)?
(With some nuance since some natives would rather say "take to drinking" in both cases...)

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from simplicius, posted on 29-09-2013 at 20:40:38 (D | E)
Dear Aneth,
I think you are right, 'take to drink' clearly means 'take to the bottle' (and said bottle contains some alcoholic beverage). On the other hand, 'take to drinking tea' is certainly possible, and means 'to form a habit of drinking tea', and I might even consider that option, should google shut down Ngram viewer. But I guess that, if you don't specify a beverage, 'the bottle' is assumed.

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from lucile83, posted on 29-09-2013 at 21:04:49 (D | E)

You can read about this phrasal verb here, nearly at the bottom of the page:

take to something[no passive]
1. to go away to a place, especially to escape from danger
The rebels took to the hills.
2. to begin to do something as a habit
take to doing something I've taken to waking up very early.
3. to develop an ability for something
She took to tennis as if she'd been playing all her life.

take to somebody/something[no passive] to start liking somebody/something
I took to my new boss immediately.
He hasn't taken to his new school.

It means either 'get used to' or 'start to like'.
'Mark took to drink after...' I think that 'drink' is a noun here.
Mark took to drinking after...I think that 'drinking' is a gerund.
In my opinion the main difference is in the construction of the verb and sentence.

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from notrepere, posted on 30-09-2013 at 05:22:02 (D | E)

Context is everything! Based on this context, it is clear that "take to drink" is being used idiomatically. Irish21 has already provided the link:
to start drinking alcohol often, sometimes because of a personal problem (old-fashioned)
If you were to write a more modern sentence, you could say:
Mark starting drinking after his wife died.
We know, based on the context, that "drinking" refers to alcohol.

Edited by notrepere on 30-09-2013 05:55

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from violet91, posted on 30-09-2013 at 13:07:10 (D | E)
Hello ,

It seems to me : Poe or ' Mark started drinking ( alcohol , of course ) when his wife died ' is a statement ; it doesn't convey any moral judgment . It may even be a way of expressing some empathy with ( for) him and try to help him . ( as a doctor, a close friend would )
- As already said : ' he took to drinking ( to the bottle or heavy drinking ) an idiom and as so , it is common , if not familiar . To my mind , it is rather pejorative ( alcohol being implicit ) and doesn't show any possible understanding ( cf.lucile's link )
This is my feeling , anyway .

Re: Phrasal verbs/help from traviskidd, posted on 30-09-2013 at 14:57:06 (D | E)

For what it's worth, I've never heard of the expression "take to drink". It's always "take to drinking", with "to" acting as a preposition, not as the infinitive marker. It makes sense, as "drinking" can be easily replaced by another noun, for example "take to the bottle". And yes, it means that one starts drinking habitually because he is depressed about something. (But I suppose it is not entirely impossible that the drinking is celebratory. )

"Take to drink" does exist, of course, as in "What will you take to drink?" (although I would personally use "have" instead of "take").

See you.

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