27 Oct 2014

An infinite phrase (2)

It is not difficult to recognise an infinite phrase, albeit it may be harder to be sure which part of a sentence it modifies.

To eat healthy food is the main factor of any diet.
An infinite phrase is acting as the subject of the sentence.

To eat modestly is another factor of any healthy diet.
The object 'to eat' takes an adverb 'modestly' which modifies a verb eat. Personally, I am having a kind of a headache with an adverb modifying an object but this is English.

She wants to write a book. 
To write a book, an infinite phrase - object of a verb 'wants'.

Peter's goal in life, to marry Jane, is to be fulfilled this year, at last.
In this sentence, we have two infinite phrases, the first modifies a noun 'goal' and acts as an appositive phrase (renaming or adding information about the noun/object), whereas the second phrase modifies a verb 'is' and is its object.

Peter's goal in life, to marry Jane, to live a happy life, is to be fulfilled this year, at last.
Peter's goal in life, to marry Jane and (to) live a happy life, is to be fulfilled this year, at last.
As we can see, we may extend an infinitive phrase and sometimes omit next 'to'.

An infinite phrase may be used in other tenses, as well as in the passive voice.
She wanted to have written a book.
Jane seems to have forgotten about her first love.
Peter's sister is thought to have been a teacher of English.
The man sitting in the corner of the room is thought to have been abducted by aliens.

Notice, that when we ask about all these phrases, we ask: what? or is what? And this should help us to recognise an infinite phrase acting as object  or the subject of a sentence.


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