Need help with the phrase: being into politics is what people "are" or "do"?


So what I need is to pick the correct sentence from following two:

  • Being into politics is what people do in Washington DC.
  • Being into politics is what people are in Washington DC.

I am leaning towards "do" however I am not sure because "being" is used in the beginning of the sentence.

This cross-posted question is being left open here because it looks headed for closure on ELU. Cross-posting is considered unacceptable and is best avoided.

Trident D'Gao

Posted 2013-11-01T15:20:59.380

Reputation: 1 503

I'm curious about why you need to pick one of the two; neither one is a very well-written sentence. What's wrong with this one? People in Washington DC are into politics. – J.R. – 2013-11-01T19:07:07.463

Because the thing in focus, which should stand out from the sentence, is "being into politics". So the way I put it I hoped would emphasize it. – Trident D'Gao – 2013-11-01T19:14:09.397

Then you could say something like Politics drives Washington DC. I still think both sentences are badly in need of a rewrite. – J.R. – 2013-11-02T01:03:09.267

"Swimming is what he does for living." does it sound bad too? It's the type of a sentence. – Trident D'Gao – 2013-11-02T01:12:18.223

This is just my feeling on the matter, but I think the swimming sentence isn't nearly as bad, because swimming is an active verb. You could try to move the emphasis in a different way, by modifying my original suggestion: People in Washington DC are really into politics. The word really in that sentence puts the focus on being into politics, which is where you want the emphasis. – J.R. – 2013-11-02T01:15:52.297



If you try to recast the sentence into "standard" sequence, you'll find that it's [just about] credible to come up with "What people do in Washington DC is be into politics", but I don't think there's any grammatical variant along the lines of "What people are in Washington DC is XXXX into politics" (where XXXX is some form of the verb "to be"). So OP's first version is the more natural choice.

Tyler James Young

Posted 2013-11-01T15:20:59.380

Reputation: 11 315

ha ha - I suppose it's only right that I should update this one! :) I must admit I can't explain exactly why it's not really acceptable to answer the question "What are you?" with *"I am into politics"*. In certain contrived contexts you can certainly use grammatically identical constructions. Q: *"You say you're not being rude, and you're not being stupid. So what exactly are you [being]?"* A: "I'm [simply] being honest." – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-11-01T17:39:02.637

@FumbleFingers: It could certainly be improved by someone with a nuanced understanding of the forms in play, but I figured I'd at least get the ball rolling with your (correct, IMO) views—especially since it's possible this is as much of an answer as anyone will be able to provide. – Tyler James Young – 2013-11-01T17:52:02.120

1My own feeling is that native speakers automatically know that OP's second version isn't idiomatic. I tried to give some sort of justification for our preference in my comment on ELU because I hadn't realised at first that it was cross-posted. But really all I was doing was addressing the "headline" question (which of these two forms is "correct"?). Off-hand I don't know how to explain the difference in formal grammar terms (if indeed that's even possible). But OP's attitude on ELU hasn't encouraged me to spend a lot of time trying to dig deeper (maybe someone else can do that! :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-11-01T18:09:23.183