The Infinitive as Objective Predicative

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The Infinitive as Objective Predicative

§ 193.The infinitive as objective predicative is lexically depen-
dent — it is used after a number of transitive verbs in the active
followed by an object which is expressed by a noun or a pronoun.
Most of these verbs require an infinitive with to. The most fre-
quently occurring of them are: to advise, to allow, to ask, to as-
sume, to authorize, to beg, to believe, to cause, to challenge, to
command, to compel, to consider, to enable, to encourage, to ex
pect, to find, to forbid, to force, to get, to guess, to hate, to imag-
ine, to impel, to implore, to induce, to inspire, to instruct, to in-
tend, to invite, to know, to lead, to like, to love, to mean, to
observe, to order, to permit, to persuade, to prefer, to press, to re-
alize, to recommend, to request, to require, to suppose, to suspect,
to take
(= to understand), to teach, to tell, to tempt, to think, to
trust, to understand, to urge, to want, to warn, to wish
and some

e-g. Why did he advise me to visitWestminster Abbey?
I must ask you to ringhim uptonight.
You've encouraged people tobelieve that.
We can't force you to stayhere.

Why don't you get my wife to explainit to you?
He ordered the door to be thrownopen.
Did he urge you to reconsideryour decision?

Note that after verbs expressing opinion or perception by far
the most common infinitive is the verb to be which is a link-verb
in this case.

e.g. No one could expect her tobe happy.

I hope you'll find the new method tobe of considerable inter-

I never took him tobe a Norwegian.
I always believed him tobe a brute.
He didn't mean this tobe a long meeting.

There are a few verbs in English after which the infinitive as
objective predicative is used without the particle to. They are: to
feel, to have
(=to get, to make), to hear, to know (=to experience),
to let, to make, to notice, to see, to watch.

e.g. I felt Margaret's hand tightenin mine.

I had not heard him speakbefore, and now I realized that he
was a good speaker.

What makes you thinkyou have any talent?

In the library I noticed Diana talkfor a moment with her sis-
ter alone.

She struggled for self-control, and I saw her hands clench
and unclenchspasmodically.

I've watched you grow for many years, from when you were
a little baby.

She was not quite so naive as she would have had me think.

Note. The verb to know in the meaning 'to be aware' is generally used in the
Present or Past Indefinite and followed only by the infinitive to be with the par-
ticle to.

e.g. We all knowit to beimpossible.

I knewthat tobe true.

In the meaning to experience', the verb to know is generally used in the
Present or Past Perfect and may be followed by the infinitiveof any verb. The in
finitive is used without to in this case.

e.g. She is worried; I'venever knownher loseher nerve before.
1 had never knownHector behave like this.

The infinitive after the verb to help may be used with or with-
out the particle to.

e.g. He said he would have helped me move in.

I was helping him to winas thoroughly as if my happiness
were at stake.

Note. To let somebody know is a set phrase,
e.g. Why didn't you let me knowyou were coining?
The subject of the infinitive in the function of objective pred-
icative is the noun or pronoun which serves as the object to the
predicate verb (see the examples above). There are instances when
the object of the predicate verb is a reflexive pronoun. Then it in-
dicates that the subject of the infinitive is the same person or
thing as denoted by the subject of the sentence.

e.g. Roger had made himself seemfriendly again.

Note. Note the set phrases can't bring oneself to do something and to set one-
self to do something
which always require reflexive pronouns as objects.

e.g. But I still can't bring myself to feelthe way he does about things.
I hadset myself to tellthe absolute truth.

§ 194. The infinitive as objective predicative is also used after
afew verbs taking a prepositional object. The most regularly oc-
curring of them are: to appeal to, to call upon, to listen to, to
long for, to look for, to nod to, to rely on, to wait for, to watch
After these verbs the infinitive is used with to except for the
verb to listen to which takes an infinitive without to.

e.g. He was looking for someone to helphim.

But later, I'd lie awake, watching for the light to come

through the little window.

Her whole life had been spent listening to other people talk.
He nodded to the mechanics to removethe block.
They appealed to him togive upthe idea.
They were waiting for dinner to be announced.

Occasionally, the infinitive as objective predicative may be
found after a few verbs which do not regularly require preposition-
al objects. Here belong, for example, such verbs as to arrange, to

ask, to beckon, to cry, to manage, to plan, to provide, to shout, to
sign, to telegraph, to wire
and some others. The most commonly used
preposition is for, but occasionally we may also find with or to.
e.g. Then she looked at me and beckoned for me to come over.

By the way, I must arrange for you to meet the old man some


I arranged with the concierge to make my coffee in the morn-
ing and keep the place clean.

I know that she telegraphed to Julia to come and bring me

with her.
They drove up to the verandah steps and shouted to me to

come down.

The subject of the infinitive is always the person or thing de-
noted by the prepositional object (see the examples above).
(For comparison with the ing-form see §§ 222 and 241.)

The Infinitive as Adverbial Modifier
§ 195. The infinitive may serve as an adverbial modifier of a

verb. In this function it is used to express purpose, consequence,

comparison, condition and exception.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted

by the infinitive see "Verbs", § 166.

§ 196. The infinitive as adverbial modifier of purpose is al-
ways used with the particle to.

The number of verbs followed by an infinitive of purpose is not
restricted and their lexical character may be quite different. But
they are all alike in one respect — they all express actions deliber-
ately carried out with a definite aim in view. In other words, these
actions are aimed at the realization of the action denoted by the
infinitive. The action of the infinitive follows that of the predi-
cate verb and is unaccomplished as yet.
e.g. I dressed and went out to buy the morning paper.

I came in to see if I could help you pack, Alison.

I did my best to stop her.

He put his head out of the window to get some fresh air.

The infinitive of purpose may occasionally be preceded by the
modifiers in order and so as which emphasize the idea of purpose.

e.g. I was silent for a moment in order to give greater force to

my next remark.

Next we slid into the river and had a swim, so as to freshen
up and cool off.

So as is quite common with a negative infinitive of purpose,

e.g. We had gone into the middle of Hyde Park so as not to be

She hurried so as not to give him time for reflexion.

The infinitive may also be preceded by other modifiers. Unlike
in order and so as, which only make the idea of purpose more
prominent, the other modifiers serve to add their own specific
shades of meaning.

e.g. He opened his mouth wide as if to speak.

Christine smiled mockingly and turned away, as though to

go out of the room.
He gave me a little smile as much as to say, "You see, I

don't mean any harm."
"He had never cared for that room, hardly going into it from

one year's end to another except to take cigars.
They were waiting in there just to see him.
He told his joke merely to gain time.

The infinitive of purpose generally follows the predicate verb
(see the examples above). But if special stress is laid on the infini-
tive of purpose, it may be placed at the head of the sentence. How-
ever, it is not often found in this position,

e.g. To relieve my feelings I wrote a letter to Robert.

I forgive you. To prove it I'll drop in at your lab some time.

Occasionally the infinitive of purpose is placed between the
subject and the predicate.

e.g. Ann, to pass the time, had left her kitchen to see whether
Mr Faber was all right.

§ 197-The infinitive as adverbial modifier of consequence is
used with the particle to. It is structurally dependent — we find
it in a peculiar sentence pattern the first part of which is (he)
had only to...
or (he) had but to... .

e.g. I had only to look at Mother to knowthe answer.

He had only to open the door to findthem anxiously waiting

for him.
Here was romance and it seemed that you had but to stretch

out your hand to touchit.

Inthis sentence pattern the action of the infinitive is the con-
sequence of the action expressed by the predicate verb — it is suf-
ficient to perform the first action for the second action to follow.
A similar pattern in Russian usually begins with стоило только... ,

The use of the infinitive of consequence is infrequent.

§ 198.The infinitive as adverbial modifier of comparisonis

also structurally dependent. It is preceded by than and modifies a
predicate group containing the comparative degree of an adjective
or adverb. The infinitive is generally used with the particle to,
though sometimes it may be found without it.

e.g. She seemed more anxious to listen to the troubles of others
than to discussher own.

Ishould have known better than to expectto find it.

Damn it, I've got more important things to do than lookat
the sea.

This function is not of frequent occurrence.

§ 199.The infinitive (with to) may serve as an adverbial modi-
fier of condition.
In this case it expresses a condition under which
the action of the predicate verb can be realized. The predicate
verb is, as a rule, used in the form of the Conditional Mood.

e.g. To hearhim talk, you would think he was a celebrity.

"He is a popular singer," Monica said. "You wouldn't believe

it, to lookat him," remarked Teddy.
The infinitive in this function is not frequent either.

§ 200.The infinitive as adverbial modifier of exceptiondenotes
the only possible action that can be performed under the circum-
stances. The use of this infinitive is structurally dependent — it is
preceded by except or but and is generally used in negative or in-
terrogative sentences (after nothing could be done..., he could do
nothing..., what could he do..., he could not help...
and the like).
The infinitive is, as a rule, used without to.

e.g. We care for each other and there is nothing to be done about

it, except tellyou the truth.
There was nothing to do but escape.
nineteen minutes to six —I could not help but watchthe

clock — the telephone buzzed.
What could he do but smile?

The use of the particle to is an exception.

e.g. Daniel held out his arm to her. She had no choice but to obey.
The infinitive of exception is infrequent.

§ 201.The infinitive may also serve as adverbial modifier of
an adjective. In this case it is always an adverbial modifier of
The infinitive here has the particle to.

The infinitive of consequence is not lexically dependent — it
can modify any adjective. But it is dependent structurally as it
can be used only in the following cases:

1) With adjectives modified by enough, which are, as a rule,
predicatives in the sentence.

e.g. He was old enough to beher father.

I can't think who'd be stupid enough toside with you.

I hope he's sensible enough to agreeto their proposal.

I had known him as a doctor, but was not old enough to have

knownhim as a friend.
I was young enough for the children not to feelshy and they

chattered merrily about one thing and another.

As is seen from the above examples, the action of the in-
finitive is made possible owing to the sufficient degree of the
Quality expressed by the adjective.

Note. The infinitive can also serve as an adverbial modifier of consequence of
an adverb modified by enough.
e.g. I wish I knew him well enough to judge.

2) With adjectives in the sentence pattern containing the cor-
relative conjunction so ... as.

e.g. He was so fortunate as to escape.

If you are so stupid as to lend him your car you must expect

it to be damaged.

It should be noted that sentences of the following kind have be-
come polite formulas to express requests:

e.g. Would you be so good as to answer the telephone if it rings?
Would you be so kind as to send us your catalogues?
The infinitive in the sentence pattern with the correlative con-
junction so ... as is not of frequent occurrence.

3) With adjectives preceded by too. The adjectives are generally
predicatives in the sentence,
e.g. Everyone seemed to be talking, but I was too shy to take part

in the conversation.

You're too young to start giving up your plans.
She told me she was too tired to go out.
He was too embarrassed for us to ask him about anything.

The action of the infinitive is made impossible owing to the
excessive degree of the quality expressed by the adjective.

Note. The infinitive can also serve as an adverbial modifier of consequence of
an adverb preceded by too.
e.g. He liked her too much to cause her any trouble.

(For comparison with the ing-form see §§ 223-225.)

§ 202. The subject of the infinitive in all the above described
adverbial functions is the same person or thing as denoted by the
subject of the sentence (see the examples above). But the infinitive
may also have a subject of its own with which it forms the so-
called absolute construction.

The absolute construction with the infinitive is introduced by
the preposition with. The infinitive is used with the particle to.

The absolute construction has the function of adverbial modi-
fier of attending circumstances in the sentence.

e.g. It was a quiet house now, with only his secretary to see to

his meals and to take care of his business affairs.
Miss Heythorp is below, Sir, with a carriage to take you home.

As is seen from the above examples, there are two parallel ac-
tions in this sentence pattern: one of them is expressed by the
predicate verb, the other by the infinitive. Each action has its own

The infinitive absolute construction is infrequent and found
only in literary style.

(For comparison with the ing-form see § 226.)

The Infinitive as Attribute

§ 203. The infinitive in the function of attribute immediately
follows its head-noun and is used with the particle to.

e.g. There is only one way to do it.
You are just the man to do it.
He gave her permission to leave.
Have you any complaint to make against her?
He was touched by the man's desire to help him.
Whether you want to do that or not is a matter for you to

Note 1. The infinitive to come undergoes change of meaning — it means 'буду-
щий, предстоящий'.

e.g. He looked happy, as if he were dreaming of pleasures to come.
She did not realize it for months to come.

Note 2. If the infinitive is placed before a noun, it is part of a combination
whichtends to become a set phrase. The number of such phrases is limited, e.g.
what-to-do advice, this never-to-be-forgotten day, a much-to-be-longed-for place, an
ever-to-be remembered occasion
and the like.
Although the infinitive mainly serves as an attribute of nouns
proper, it is also freely used with certain noun equivalents. Thus it
is typical of the infinitive to modify the indefinite pronouns some-
body, nobody, anybody, everybody, someone, no one, anyone, every-
one, something, nothing, anything, everything
as well as the in-
terrogative pronouns what and who.

e.g. "Have you got anything to eat?"Katherine asked-
The sergeant said they had nothing to dothere.
It's been wonderful having someone to help.
"I haven't finished yet." "What is there to finish?"

The infinitive is also freely combined with ordinal numerals
(mainly with the first) and the substantivized adjective the last
which always have the function of the predicative in the sentence,
e.g. He was always the first to enterthe dining-room and the last

to leave.
Andrew was the third to be interviewed.

The infinitive also serves as an attribute to nouns which are
preceded by ordinal numerals or the adjective last.
e.g. He was the first man ever todiscuss the philosophy of sci-
ence with Erik.
The film star Ann Wilson is the 34th actress to playthis

part on the London stage.
Dear Steve, your last letter to reachme was two months old.

The infinitive may also serve as an attribute of pronouns and
pronominal expressions of quantity such as much, little, enough,
no more, little more, a great deal, a lot, plenty,

e.g. I've got a lot tobe thankful for.

I thought you had quite enough to dolooking after the house

and so forth.

You are leaving me very little tosay.
You've got so much to learn.

Occasionally the infinitive is used to modify the prop-word one.
e.g. If you, boys, want to go on I'mnot the one to spoilthe game.
He wasn't an easy one to makefriends with.

§ 204.The infinitive in the function of attribute is char-
acterized by specific meanings. They are determined by the rela-
tion between the head-word and the infinitive. These relations may

be of two kinds:

1) The head-word may be either the subject or the objectof
the action expressed by the infinitive. When the head-word serves

as the subject of the infinitive it may be either active or passive,
depending on the active (a) or passive (b) form of the infinitive.

e.g. a) He was not the man to draw backwhen his dignity was

She pitied the poor young man for having no one to look

after him.

b) Remember, Roger is a man to bewatched.
There is nothing to be gainedby pretending.

The head-word of an active infinitive may also be an object of
the action expressed by this infinitive.

e.g. Love? It's a funny word touse.

Except in little things, he was the hardest man to influence.
There was really nothing tofear.

In all the above examples we find the infinitive of verbs re-
quiring a direct object. If a verb requires a prepositional object,
the preposition follows the verb.

e.g. I'm not a very easy man to get on with.
had nothing to worry about.

He realized that he didn't know anyone here to talk toexcept


If the infinitive is a link-verb followed by an adjective which
requires a prepositional object, the preposition is placed after the

e.g. We have, all of us here, a good deal to be thankful for,
I'm sure you have nothing to beafraid of.
I'm afraid I haven't much to be proud of.

Ifthe head-word is the subject, active or passive, or the object
of the action denoted by the infinitive, the latter acquires modal
meaning. Depending on the context, it may denote either possibil-
ity (a) or necessity (b).

e-g. a) Marion was not the type to put onweight.
He was not the man to dorash things.

There was nothing to beseen or heard,not even a barking

I had nobody to talk to.

Is there a place to get something to eatnear here?
b) Whenever there is any packing to be done,my wife doesn't

feel well.

I've got something dreadful to tellyou.
There was a quarter of an hour to kill,so we walked down

the river.

There is always a question or two to be considered.
I've got enough to dowithout bothering about you.

Note that the infinitive is not lexically dependent here. It can
modify practically any noun, concrete or abstract, as well as noun
equivalents (see the examples above).

Note. There is, however, one exception to the rule — the ordinal numerals and
the last (or nouns modified by them) always serve as the subject of the infinitive
but the infinitive does not acquire the additional modal meanings of possibility or
necessity in this case.

e.g. He was the first to speak.

2) The head-noun may be neither the subject nor the object of
the action expressed by the infinitive as attribute. In this case it
acquires appositive meaning,i.e. itserves to explain the meaning
of its head-noun. That is why it can modify only those abstract
nouns that admit of or sometimes even require an explanation of
their meaning. So the use of the infinitive with appositive mean-
ing is lexically dependent.

The number of nouns with which it is used is quite conside-
rable. The most commonly occurring of them are: ability, advice,
attempt, authority
(= right), capacity, chance, command, compul
sion, decision, demand, desire, determination, duty, eagerness, ef-
fort, excuse, failure, freedom, impulse, inclination, instruction,
intention, invitation, keenness, license, longing, matter, motion
(= proposal), necessity, need, obligation, occasion, offer, opportuni
ty, option, order, patience, permission, possibility, power
(= right),
precaution, promise, proposal, readiness, recommendation, refusal,
reluctance, resistance, resolution, right, sign, suggestion, tempta
tion, tendency, urge, way, will, willingness, wish
and some others.

e.g. He had a keen desire to learn.
He had an impulse to run away.
He made an effort to collecthimself.

He accepted willingly my invitation to remainfor a few days

in my apartment.

He's given me permission to talkto you myself.
You've no right to askthose questions.
Her eyes had a tendency to shiftfrom point to point about

the room.

He bit back the urge to tella lie.
Ralph was glad of a chance to changethe subject.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the infinitive see "Verbs", § 166. (For comparison with the ing-
see §§ 227-230, 242.)

§ 205. When the head-noun is neither the subject nor the ob-
ject of the action expressed by the infinitive in the attributive
function, the latter may acquire the meaning of consequence.
This is found in certain sentence patterns or when the head-noun
has special modifiers.

1) In the sentence pattern "have (get, possess, lack) + the +
noun +■ infinitive".

e.g. He had the courage to tellthem what he thought of them.
She had thenerve to tellme a lie!

The action of the infinitive is made possible owing to the qual-
ity expressed by the head-noun.

The infinitive is lexically dependent in this sentence pattern —
it modifies a number of nouns that denote mental or moral quali-
ties. The most commonly occurring of them are: assurance, audac-
ity, authority, cheek, courage, cruelty, decency, energy, experi
ence, foolishness, good (bad) taste, guts, heart
(= courage),
humility, ignorance, imagination, impertinence, ingenuity, intelli-
gence, knowledge, nerve, patience, power, presence of mind, sense,
spirit, strength, stupidity, tolerance, vanity, willingness, will pow-
er, wit(s)
and some others.

e.g. They had the cheek to runaway.

Why haven't you got the wit to inventsomething?
She lacks the knowledge to doit the way it should be done.
I can't think how you can have the impertinence to remainhere.
She possessed the will power to achieveher aim.

The subject of the infinitive in this function is the same as
that of the predicate verb.

2) When the infinitive serves as an attribute of a noun modi-
fied by enough. The noun can have different functions in the sen-
tence. The infinitive is not lexically dependent here.

e.g. There wasn't enough air to stir the leaves of the lime trees.
He isn't fool enough to believe that sort of thing.
We need every man who has got enough spirit to say what he

really thinks.
I noticed her curious trick of throwing questions at me when I

could not have enough knowledge to answer.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the infinitive see "Verbs", § 166.

3) When the inifinitive serves as an attribute of a noun pred-
icative modified by an adjective that is preceded by too. The infin-
itive is not lexically dependent here. (For the place of the article
see "Articles", § 66.)

e.g. He was too clever a man to be bluffed.

This is too serious a business to be trifled with.

The action of the infinitive is made impossible owing to the
excessive degree of the quality expressed by the adjective that
modifies the head-noun.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted

by the infinitive see "Verbs", § 166.

4) In a sentence pattern where we find the correlative conjunc-
tion such ... as.

e.g. He can't have been such a fool as to give them a definite an-
swer right away.

The use of the infinitive of consequence in the last three sen-
tence patterns is not of frequent occurrence.

§ 206. The infinitive may be used as attribute in a special sen-
tence pattern with a formal it as subject. The infinitive is lexical-
ly dependent here — it can modify a more or less limited number
of nouns. Among them we find such se-mantically "pale" nouns as
action, business, experience, idea, matter, problem, question, stuff

task, thing, way. As a rule, these nouns are modified by adjectives
which are semantically more important than the nouns them-
selves. The most frequently occurring other nouns are: achieve-
ment, (dis)advantage, comfort, consolation, cruelty, custom, de
light, desire, dream, duty, embarrassment, encouragement, error,
folly, frustration, fun, habit, hell, honour, intention, job, joy, luxu-
ry, madness, miracle, misfortune, mistake, nonsense, outrage, pity,
plan, pleasure, privilege, relief, rule, shame, surprise, torture, treat,
triumph, trouble, wonder
and some others. The infinitive has ap-
positive meaning in this sentence pattern.

e.g. It's a good idea to use both methods.

It's our job to worry about that, isn't it?

It was a mistake to deny it.

But it was a surprise to hear him insisting on it.

It was utter nonsense to suggest that he was lying.

It was my intention to show her how greatly she had underes-
timated me.

"It must be a terrible thing to have received a classical edu-
cation," she said soberly.

It's a great disadvantage to be held back by middle-class mo-

It was a bitter experience for Philip to learn that his best
friend had let him down.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the infinitive see "Verbs", § 166.

(For comparison with the ing-form see §§ 231 and 243.)

§ 207. The infinitive is also used as attribute in a sentence
pattern with it as a formal object of a verb. It is mainly found af-
ter the verbs to find, to make and to think.

e.g. I think Helena finds it rather a lot of work to clean the place.
Everyone now called him Reggie, but he still found it an ef-
fort to get used to it.

He thought it great fun to be out boating.
He made it a point to call her by her first name.
He had made it a rule to get up at sunrise.
He found it a good idea to send them a telegram.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the infinitive see "Verbs", § 166.

The construction is not of frequent use in English though it is

not restricted to any style.

(For comparison with the ing-form see § 232.)

The Infinitiveas Parenthesis

§ 208.The infinitive as parenthesis is used with to. It is gener-
ally a set phrase, such as so to speak, strange (needless) to say, to
be quite frank, to make matters worse, to put it mildly (crudely),
to say the least, to tell the truth
and some others.

The infinitive phrase as parenthesis serves either to show the
speaker's attitude towards the situation described in the sentence
or to attract attention to some fact or to sum up an idea, and, last
but not least, it may serve as some sort of reservation on the part
of the speaker.

e.g. To tell the truth,I'm sick and tired of this nonsense.
To put it mildly,she is just a bit inquisitive.
To make matters worse, itbegan to rain and soon we got wet

to the skin.

When they found out I was not one of them, so to speak,they
politely turned from me and ignored me.

The place of the parenthetic phrase in the sentence is not
fixed though it is actually often found at the head of the sen-
tence. In writing it is marked off by a comma.

The Use of the ing-form

The ing-form as Subject

§ 209.The ing-form in the function of subject usually express-
es permanent or recurrent actions simultaneous with the action
expressed by the predicate verb,
e.g. Lookingafter one man is really enough, but two is rather an

Passing a law about equal rights doesn't necessarily mean

that women get them.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the ing-form see "Verbs", § 166.

Sentences with the ing-form as subject have certain structural

1) We find the ing-form as subject only in declarative sentenc-
es. It is never used in interrogative sentences.

2) The ing-form as subject is always placed at the head of the
sentence. It is never preceded by any secondary parts.

3) The ing-form as subject is occasionally found in sentences
beginning with there is, but its use is restricted to negative sen-
tences where it is usually preceded by no. This pattern is common
in spoken English.

e.g. There was no arguingwith her about it when she had made

up her mind.

Well, there is no avoidinghim now.
Of course, I am scared to hell. There's no denyingthat.

On the whole, however, the use of the ing-form as subject is
mainly found in literary English but even here it is not of fre-
quent occurrence.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 181 and 235.)

Theing-form as Predicative

§ 210.The ing-form as predicative is usually used after the
link-verbs to be, to mean and to look and has appositive meaning.

e.g. The important part is helpingpeople so that they can live

normal lives.

I can't ask him for help. That would mean tellinghim every-
thing about you and myself.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the ing-form see "Verbs", § 166.

The ing-form as predicative is often preceded by like. It also
has appositive meaning here, but the explanation is made by way
of comparison.

e.g. To read his novels was like swimmingin a lake so clear that
you could see the bottom.

At the time their quarrel looked like goingon for ever.
Andrew looked like a small boy being teased.

Instances of the ing-form as predicative are scarce.
Note. The ing-form as predicative is sometimes adjectivized.

e.g. That must be enormously exciting.

The journey was slow, rough and tiring and took us eleven days.

Hugh's tone got more and more insulting.

If the ing-form, were not adjectivized it would be taken for a continuous form.
e.g. The quarrel ought to be stopped. They are insulting each other.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 182 and 236.)

Theing-form as Predicate
§ 211.The ing-iorm, as predicate is restricted to two sentence


1) interrogative sentences beginning with what about and how

about and implying suggestion,

e.g. What about going to London?

How about seeing what they are doing now?

2) exclamatory sentences expressing indignation,
e.g. But lettinghim do it!

Sentences of both kinds are quite common in spoken English.
(For comparison with the infinitive see § 183.)

The ing-form as Part of a Compound Verbal Predicate
§ 212.The ing form is lexically dependent in this function —
it is used after a number of verbs denoting motion or position.
They are: to come, to disappear, to go, to go out (round, around,
about), to lie, to sit, to sit around (round), to stand, to stand
around (round).

e.g. They came rushingin, laughing.

They had often gone fishingin those days.
Are we going out dancingtonight?

He went about sniffing the air but there was no trace of gas.

They all sat around feeling very proud.

"I'm ready," he said to Maurice and stood waiting.

Next morning I woke early and lay listeningto the clatter of

dishes in the kitchen.
He disappeared walking,there was no noise, nothing.

The two verbs of the combination form a close sense-unit. The
first component has a weakened meaning and mainly serves as a fi-
nite verb, while the meaning of the ing-form is quite prominent
and determines the meaning of the whole combination.

e.g. In that mood I entered the bedroom, where Sheila was lying

reading, her book near the bedside lamp.

Sometimes she fell into despondency and sat doingnothing at
all, neither reading nor sewing for half an hour at a time.

Note. Note the following set phrases:

e.g. I burst out laughing, and the others followed.
All at once she burst out crying.

(For comparison with the infinitive see § 184.)

The ing-form as a Second Action Accompanying

the astion of the predicate verb. the Action of the Predicate Verb

§ 213. The ing-form may express a second action accom-
anying the action expressed by the predicate verb. The subject of
the ing-form is the same as the subject of the sentence.
The ing-form in this function refers not to the predicate verb
alone but to the whole predicate group. It does not form any close
sense-unit with the predicate verb and can be found with verbal
as well as with nominal predicates.
The ing-form is not lexically dependent in this function.

e.g. They ran up the stairs brimming with excitement.

ou can't just sit there being talkedabout.
I felt uneasy beingalone with him in that large house.
Martha was upstairs getting ready.
When I looked up he was still there waiting for me.
She was sitting in the doorway of the tent reading.

As a rule, the ing-form follows the predicate group (see the
examples above). But it may also be placed at the head of the sen-
tence or between the subject and the predicate,
e.g. Cominginto my office one evening in the autumn, he said

shyly: "Doing anything tonight?"
Watchingthem with bold, excited eyes, Simon discussed their


I made to go out, but Roger, frowning,shook his head.
In the taxi going home, Margaret, holdingmy hand against

her cheek, said: "You made a mistake, you know."

Note 1. When the ing-form is used to denote a second action, it is often sepa-
rated by a comma from the rest of the sentence.

Note 2. The ing-forms of certain verbs have come to be used as prepositions or
conjunctions. Care should be taken to distinguish them from the real ing forms.

e.g. Several officials, includingme, had been invited.

He says he willbe at the meeting place for three nights running next week

beginningon Monday.
Well, considering that Hector's a politician, you can't say that he's altogether

a fool.

Presuming the old man gets better and comes back to the job, then what?

Supposing you sold the land, what could you get for it?

"That will be all right, barringaccidents" I told him at once.

Note 3. Note that taking all things into consideration (account) has become a
set phrase,
e.g. Taking all things into consideration,I decided to tear my letter up.

In the vast majority of sentences we find a simple ing-iorm
which expresses an action simultaneous with that of the predicate
verb (see the examples above). Yet if both the predicate verb and
the ing-form are expressed by terminative verbs, the action of the
ing-form precedes that of the predicate verb. The ing-form in this
case is placed before the predicate,
e.g. Turningto his hostess, he remarked: "It's been a nice day."

(=He first turned to his hostess and then remarked.)
Recovering from his excitement, he became practical again.
Smith, turningto him, gave a serious contented smile.
The use of the perfect ing-form,though quite possible, is not
of frequent occurrence. It shows that the action of the ing-form


precedes that of the predicate verb. The Perfect ing-form is often
placed before the predicate verb.
e.g. Havingduly arrivedin Scotland, he took a train the next day
to Manchester.

Having cuther dirty bandage, John started tying her hand.

Havinggradually wastedhis small fortune, he preferred to
live on the generosity of others rather than work.
Francis was there before me, havingcome by the morning

Norman, having lookedat his watch, slapped the play-script
shut and put it on his chair.

As has been said, the subject of the ing form is usually the
person or thing denoted by the subject of the sentence (see the ex-
amples above). Occasionally, however, we come across instances of
the ing form whose subject is expressed elsewhere, for instance,
by one of the secondary parts of the sentence.

e.g. Walkingbeside his friend, it seemed to Normanthat life was
not so bad after all.

But back in his office, lookingdown at his desk, hissense of
well-being left him.

I love you like hell, Bridget. And, lovingyou like hell, you
can't expect meto enjoy seeing you get married to a pot-
bellied, pompous little peer who loses his temper when he
doesn't win at tennis.

But searchingfor i's not dotted, t's uncrossed in his letter,
it came to himthat all he had written were lies, big lies
poured over the paper like a thick syrup.

The above use of the ing-form is not common. Since usually
the subject of the ing-form is the same person or thing as the sub-
ject of the sentence, it is not easy to identify the subject of the
ing-form in sentences of the above kind. Hence, the term dangling
or unattached
is applied to this ing-form in grammar.

The ing-form denoting a second action in the kind of sentences
illustrated above is typical of literary style where its use is quite
extensive, but it is hardly ever used in spoken English.

However, the ing-form denoting a second action is quite com-
mon in spoken English after certain predicate groups. Here belong

the verbs to spend and to waste when they are followed by the
noun time or some other expressions of time, and also after to
have a good (hard, jolly, etc.,) time, to have difficulty, to have
and some others,
e.g. She did little typing herself, but spent her time correcting the

work of the four girls she employed.
Are you going to spend your life saying "ought", like the

rest of our moralists?
She told me that she would often spend a whole morning

working upon a single page.
Well, I'm sure I don't know why I waste time cooking a big

meal for this family if no one wants to eat it.
He had a good time dancing at the club.
They had difficulty finding his address.

In spoken English there is another sentence pattern in which
the ing-form denoting a second action is also quite common. The
sentence pattern includes the verb to be followed by an indication
of place: to be here (there), to be in, to be in the room (kitchen,
garden, office,
etc.,), to be out, to be upstairs (downstairs) and the

e.g. Mother is out shopping.

Pat is downstairs talking to Father.
Miss Smith was in her office typing.

(For comparison with the infinitive see § 185.)

The ing-form as Object

§ 214. The ing-form may be used as a direct object of a verb.
It is lexically dependent in this function and found after the fol-
lowing verbs: to admit, to avoid, to begin, to cease, to consider, to
continue, to delay, to deny, to endure, to enjoy, to escape, to fin-
ish, to forget, to give up, to go on, to hate, to intend, to keep, to
keep on, to leave off, to like, to love, to mention, to mind
(in neg-
ative and interrogative sentences), to neglect, to postpone, to pre
fer, to propose
(= to suggest), to put off, to quit, to recall, to rec-
ollect, to regret, to remember, to resent, to resume, to risk, to
start, to stop, to suggest, to try
and some others.

e.g. English grammar is very difficult and few writers have

avoided making mistakes in it.
The rest of us had finished eating, but Cave had cut himself

another slice of cheese.

Roger went on speaking with energy, calculation and warmth.
He kept on smiling at her and speaking.
He drank his beer and resumed reading his paper.
I was in low spirits and even considered going away.
David Rubin did not much like being" called Professor.

In addition to the verbs mentioned in the list above, the ing-
as object is used after certain modal phrases in the negative
form: can't bear, can't face, can't fancy, can't imagine, can't re
sist, can't stand
and can't help.

e.g. They can't bear being humiliated.

He could not face being talked about.

Later in the day she couldn't resist calling Mrs Spark to find

out the details of the tragedy.
He couldn't help asking me: "Isn't there anything else you

can do for Roger?"

Besides, the ing-form is also used after the set phrase to feel

e.g. He felt like giving up the whole affair.

I didn't feel like talking to him after what had happened.

The subject of the ing-form in this function is the same as
that of the predicate verb.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 186 and 237.)

§ 215. The ing-form may also serve as a direct object of an ad-
jective. It is lexically dependent in this case and found only after
two adjectives — busy and worth.

e.g. The foreman was busy shouting orders and instructions.

The children were busy doing all the things they had been

told not to do.

He thought my idea was worth trying.
It was not a witticism worth repeating.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 187 and 238.)

§ 216.As a prepositional object of a verb, the ing-form is also
lexically dependent. It is found after verbs that take a preposition-
al object. These verbs may be divided into three groups:

1) verbs followed by one prepositional object,

2) verbs followed by a non-prepositional object and a preposi-
tional object,

3) verbs followed by two prepositional objects.

I. The verbs of the first group are closely connected with a
preposition whose meaning is often weakened. The following is
the list of the most commonly used verbs: to admit to, to agree to,
to aim at, to apologize for, to approve of, to believe in, to bother
about, to care for, to come of, to come round to, to complain of, to
confess to, to consist of/in, to count on, to despair of, to dream of,
to end in, to forget about, to feel up to, to get to, to get down to,
go back to, to grumble about, to hesitate about, to insist on, to lead
to, to long for, to mean by, to persist in, to plan on, to reckon on,
to refrain from, to return to, to result in/from, to save from, to
succeed in, to take to, to talk of, to tell of, to think of/about, to
threaten with, to worry about
and some others.

e.g. What did she mean by boastinglike that?

I didn't think twice about tellingher: we had no secrets.
It does not seem impossible that the biologist will in the fu-
ture succeed in creatinglife in his laboratory.
The readers of a book insist on knowingthe reasons of action.
Let's get down to signingthe papers.
Towards the end of the summer, they visited me together

several times, and then Norman took to comingalone.
I had never been on an aeroplane and worried aboutbeing

I must apologize for having interrupteda conference.

Here also belong certain set phrases, such as: to find excuses for,
to have no doubt about, to look forward to, to lose time in, to make a
point of, to plead guilty to, to take pride in
and some others.
e.g. I took pride in makingmy lodgings pretty and comfortable.
He was taking risks in speakingin that tone to them.
I expect you are looking forward to seeingyour fiance again-
Special attention should be given to set phrases with the verb
to be which are treated as verb equivalents.

e.g. Would you be up to playingwith us this afternoon?

She was just on the point of goingaway when Betty Vane
came in.

"Would you be in favour of investigatingthe matter?" Mon-
ty asked.

The subject of the action expressed by the ing-form is generally
the person denoted by the subject of the sentence (see the examples
above). But occasionally we find an ing-complex (see "Verbs", §66).

e.g. I don't in the least object to your playingpractical jokes on

other people.
She complained about the porridge beinglumpy.

The use of an ing-complex seems to be generally required by
the verbs to approve of, to disapprove of, to grumble about and
some others. (We usually approve of or grumble about some other
people's actions — hence the agent of the ing-form is expected to
be a person or thing other than the one denoted by the subject of

e.g. He could not approve of Guy's hidinghimself away.
We can't grumble about things beingdull, can we?

II. Verbs requiring a non-prepositional and prepositional object
are in general less numerous. Besides, not all of them take an ing-
form as their prepositional object (e.g. to explain something to
somebody, to dictate something to somebody,

Of the verbs taking a non-prepositional and prepositional object
expressed by an ing form, the most commonly occurring are: to ac-
cuse somebody of, to amuse somebody with, to ask somebody about,
to charge somebody with, to coax somebody into, to give something
to, to give something for, to invite somebody into, to keep some
body from, to mutter something about, to persuade somebody into,
o remind somebody of, to restrict oneself to, to save somebody
from, to say something about, to stop somebody from, to suspect
somebody of, to talk somebody into/out of, to tell something about
d some others.

e.g- I am prepared for anyone to accuse me of beingcowardly.

It had been easy to coax Margaret into invitingthe Morgans
to stay with us for a week.

Did she suspect them of trying to cheat her?

I hope you won't let Peg talk you out of joining me?

It is lack of imagination that prevents people from seeing

things from any point of view but their own.
Will you be able to keep those fellows from making any more


Of all the prepositions there is one that acquires particular
importance in this construction as it may be found with a consid-
erable number of verbs and is, consequently, of frequent occur-
rence. It is the preposition for. It generally serves to indicate the
cause of the action denoted by the predicate verb.

For is found after the following verbs: to blame somebody, to
excuse somebody, to forgive somebody, to hate somebody, to like
somebody, to love somebody, to pay somebody, to reprimand some
body, to reproach somebody, to scold somebody, to thank somebody
and some others.

e.g. I thought you had just been blaming me for being neutral.
I'm not going to reproach you for interrupting the rehearsal.
I was going to thank you for looking after him till I came.
The major reprimanded him for being late.
He scolded me for not having let him know.
The subject of the ing-form in this sentence pattern is the per-
son denoted by the direct object, as in She tried to talk him into
doing it (see also the examples above).

After verbs of speaking we often find an ing-complex.

e.g. I told them about Gustav's wanting to come with me.

I said something about Jane being in love with him, but he

would not talk about her.
I muttered something about its being a pity.

III. The number of verbs requiring two prepositional objects of
which the second is an ing-form is limited. The ing-form is also in-
troduced by the preposition for, as with some verbs above,
e.g. I entered the classroom and apologized to the teacher for be-
ing late.
I should have been vexed with you for thinking me such a


§ 217. The ing-form as a prepositional object is also found af-
ter various kinds of adjectives — adjectives proper, predicative

adjectives and adjectivized participles. The most commonly occur-

ring of them are: absorbed in, (un)accustomed to, afraid of,
amused at, angry with, annoyed at, ashamed of, aware of, (in)capable

of, careful about/in, careless of, certain of, clever at, (un)conscious
of, content with, delighted at, different from, embarrassed at, ex
cited about, far from, fond of, fortunate in, frightened of, furious
at, given to, good (better) at, grateful for, happy in/at, interested
in, irritated at, keen on, miserable at, nice about, pleased at, proud

of, responsible for, right in, scared at/of, set against, set on, sick
of, skilled in/at, slow in, sorry for, successful in/at, sure of, sur-
prised at, thankful for, tired of, touched at, upset at, (un)used to,
worried about, wrong in,

e.g. If only I were capable of doing that!

We were never very careful about taking precautions.

"You look for trouble, don't you?" "Only because I'm pretty

certain of finding it.

" I was fairly content with letting things go as they were.
Somehow I wasn't too interested in trying to get back into

that work.

I was tired of doing much the same thing every day.
"I'm sorry for giving you so much trouble," she said.
I felt that he was excited about showing me his new car.
He was unconscious of Anna standing beside him.

For means of expressing the subject of the action denoted by
the ing-form see "Verbs", § 166.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 187 and 238.)

§ 218. The ing-form may serve as object of a verb in a special
sentence pattern with it as a formal subject. The use of the ing-
form in this sentence pattern is found after a very limited number
of verbs and set phrases (which are verb equivalents) but it is
typical of spoken English.

e.g- He said to his wife: "It doesn't matter much being liked, for

this kind of life."

When it comes down to getting a job with a living wage at-
tached to it, he's prepared to put his theories in his pocket.

She was, as her colleagues said, "good on paper", but when it
came to speaking in committees she was so apprehensive
that she spent sleepless hours the night before.
For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the ing-form see § 166.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 189 and 239.)

§ 219.The ing-form may be used as a direct object of an adjec-
tive in a sentence pattern with if as a formal subject. This kind of
object is also lexically dependent — it regularly occurs after it is

e.g. It is worth rememberingthat he has once been a boxer.
It is worth findingit out.

Sometimes the ing-form is found after a number of other ad-
jectives such as amusing, banal, comfortable, difficult, dreary,
easy, great, hopeless, lovely, nice, odd, pleasant, strange, tough,
useless, wonderful,

e.g. It was difficult getting him to do it.

It won't be easy findingour way back. There's not much moon.
It will be rather nice seeinghim again.
It was useless arguingwith Jane.

But the ing-form occurs after these adjectives only in spoken
English, and such sentences are often emotionally coloured. As a
general rule, we find an infinitive here (see "Verbs", § 190).

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denoted
by the ing-form see § 166.

§ 220.The ing-form is sometimes found in a sentence pattern
with it as a formal object of the verbs to find, to make and to
The formal it in this case is followed by an adjective.

e.g. He found it worth remindingher of her promise.
He thought it very odd my leavingwhen I did.

For the means of expressing the subject of the action denote
by the ing-form see § 166.

(For comparison with the infinitive see § 191.)

The ing-form as Subjective Predicative

§ 221.The ing-form as subjective predicative is lexically de-
pendent. It is found after a limited number of verbs in the pas-
sive. These verbs are: to catch, to find, to hear, to leave, to no-
tice, to report, to see, to set, to show, to watch.

e.g. I felt I had been caught boasting.

The baby was found sittingon the floor.

The old woman was heard shriekingin short bursts like a
ship in the fog.

When the door closed, Monty and I were left lookingat each

About that time a hurricane was reported movingout of the
Caribbean in our direction.

Here also belong a few verbs after which the ing-form is intro-
duced by as. They are: to accept, to consider, to explain, to guaran-
tee, to mention, to regard, to take, to treat, to understand,
also belong the verbs to speak of and to think of which retain
their prepositions in this sentence pattern.

e.g. The Browns did not entertain and were spoken of in the dis-
trict as being"poor as church mice".

Janet and I became very friendly, and at school we were con-
sidered as goingtogether.

The use of the ing-form as subjective predicative is not of fre-
quent occurrence.

(For comparison with the infinitive see §§ 192 and 240.)

The ing-form as Objective Predicative

§ 222.The ing-form as objective predicative is lexically depen-
dent — it is used after a number of transitive verbs in the active
followed by an object which is expressed by a noun or a pronoun.
The following are the most frequently used verbs taking a direct
object: to call, to catch, to discover, to feel, to find, to hear, to get,
to imagine, to keep, to leave, to (dis)like, to notice, to picture, to
see to send, to set, to stop, to watch, to want.

e.g. I felt him lookingat me now and again.

When he arrived he found me reading Tom Jones.

Just as I got to the end of the corridor, I heard my telephone

ringing again.

Ellen had noticed me talking with the landlady.
He saw me watching him.
One afternoon in August I saw something that surprised me

and set me thinking.

This construction is also found after two verbs taking a prepo-
sitional object — to listen to and to look at.
e.g. We opened the door for a moment and looked out at the

windy night and listened to the trees groaning.
He looked at Jane wiping her tear-wet face.
Here also belong a few verbs aft

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