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to serve a purpose... to? Some days ago I wrote this comment in a discussion: what purpose serves a piano to a monkey? I know it is an odd question, but we were joking and I wanted to use a high register to get a comedic effect. Now, I don't know if it really sounds funny as I intended it to be, but my question is: is the preposition "to" correct? I only heard the expression used in this context (mostly without preposition): I hope that my lessons served a purpose in my students' lives. I don't know why they've added all this information but it probably serves a purpose. The case that sounds closer to what I wrote seems to be "to serve one's purpose", as in: It often serves his purpose to be vague. (Examples taken from here: ). I hope my question is clear enough. Thank you in advance!
Oct 3, 2018 6:00 AM
Answers · 5
Elena, in English, we would usually say “what’s a monkey need a piano for?”, “what’s a monkey going to do with a piano?”, or in a higher register, perhaps “what good is a piano to a monkey?”
October 3, 2018
I had to think about this for a while, because your sentence does not sound bad, and it's no2t a frequent expression. Out of my head would probably come: What purpose does a piano serve a monkey? No "to". I think "to/for a noun" would be OK as a free-standing prepositional phrase i.e. the preposition does not depend on the verb "to serve". That's my tuppence-worth for now but I'd be interested to see what others say too.
October 3, 2018
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