pay for business to (do something)

SERENA   Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:33 pm GMT
I need to know what "environment is still paiyng for business to pollute" means, because dictionaries and Google didn't help me. Could someone disclose the mistery for me?
Guest   Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:59 pm GMT
It's badly worded. It means something like: the environment is still suffering the effects of pollution because of business practices.
Uriel   Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:35 am GMT
It's not bady worded. To pay for something (suffer the concequences) is a common idiom, as in "I partied all night, drank everything in sight, and had a hell of a good time, but I was paying for it in the morning!"
Guest   Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:41 am GMT
I beg to differ. Re-read the sentence with the last three words in mind. Your idiom doesn't work here. The environment isn't "paying" for something to pollute. Instead, the environment is paying because something is polluting.
Uriel   Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:58 am GMT
It's the same idiom. In a Cape Cod Times article about families having to move away from the area or move from house to house because of exorbitant rent increases, the headline is: "When housing prices spike, it's the children who pay the price". Very similar to the environment paying for businesses to pollute.
Guest   Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:14 am GMT
It might LOOK similar to your examples but "the environment is still paying for business to pollute" does not have the same form at all. This form would convey a literal sense to readers.
lu   Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:18 am GMT
Will it be better if the sentence is written like this??
"environment is still payng for the polluting business"
Guest   Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:30 am GMT
Yes, what you wrote fits the construction correctly: "The environment is still paying for the polluting business". But more of the context is required to accord such a sentence properly.
Uriel   Fri Apr 07, 2006 2:35 pm GMT
It wouldn't be literal to people who are used to the idiom. I didn't take the original example literally at all -- I knew what they were saying.
Guest   Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:53 pm GMT
"The environment is still paying for the business to pollute" isn't the same as "the environment is still paying for the polluting business". Only the second phrase fits the idiom.

Compare "John is paying for Adam to act" and "John is paying for Adam's actions". The first is to be taken literally. The second takes on a figurative sense.
Uriel   Sat Apr 08, 2006 11:32 pm GMT
Well, I disagree, but you're entitled to your opinion.
Guest   Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:16 am GMT
Fair enough but the majority of native English speakers would see the distinction.

Here is one form:
"Atone for, suffer for, as in He may have looked like a good manager, but his successor will end up paying for his mistakes. [Late 1600s]"

As opposed to the other form where "to" changes the meaning:
"I am paying for Adam to smoke" -- My interlocutor would understand that I buy Adam's cigarettes, not that I'm suffering from his smoke.
Uriel   Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:59 am GMT
Yes, but an environment doesn't have money. Therefore the metaphorical nature of the original example is less ambiguous.
Guest   Sun Apr 09, 2006 6:41 am GMT
It was ambiguous nevertheless which is why I stated it was badly worded and guessed at the meaning. For that reason I'm not even certain of its intended meaning which is probably why no one else has responded. It could mean something entirely different in a given context.
j   Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:40 am GMT
Dear guys the native speakers! I always respect your opinions and really deeply appreciate how quickly you response. Most of you hide behind the "Guest" names, but some, like Uriel, are the regulars here, so I feel like I know you, Uriel, a long time. So: thanks to all of you!!!
Exactly because of being native speakers, SOMETIMES (sorry, sorry!) you guys don't see what's exactly WE (not-natives) don't understand. Here is a typical situation with SERENA's question. Every word in this sentence is absolutely clear, so does the idiom which's often used and being taught, I believe, in each ESL school, YET the GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE seems a bit unusual and THIS is a problem. I can't speak for SERENA, but the location of the infinitive "to pollute" indeed makes me feel uncomfortable with the whole sentence.
I hope you see my point here. Being native speakers you don't need knowledge of the grammar, but for us it's not so: ultimately we can look up every word or idiom, but if the grammatical structure is unclear it doesn't help us.