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Sentences starting with "To conclude," and "To sum up," are commonly seen in English, but can we also use any other verbs like "start" the same way?

I just came across a sentence from a book and it reads:

To start, the application of a gasket to a joint is a requirement if there is a possibility of leakage (vacuum, gas, liquid, or slurry) from the attachment either flowing inwards or outwards. Despite all the best of intentions, there is no such thing as a 100% leak-proof seal.

Here's a another one I saw:

In the first 5 months of 2016, the total new car sales in Mexico reached 587,320 units, up 16.8% from the same corresponding period. The total car production in the first 5 months of 2016 reached 1,354,848 units, down 4.6% from the same corresponding period. In the first 5 months of 2016, the total export reached 1,080,358 units, down 7.1% from the same corresponding period. To review by region, 820,460 units were exported to the U.S. (+0.3% from the same corresponding period; representing 75.9% of the total export volume). 70,862 units were exported to Latin American countries (-30.4% from the same corresponding period; representing 6.6% of the total export volume). 11,175 units were exported to Asia (-68.6% from the same corresponding period; representing 1.0% of the total export volume).

Does the clause "To start" and "To review by region" and the way they are used sound natural to you? I just kind of feel this "To + Verb, " structure does not necessarily apply to all verbs because grammatically the clauses before and after that comma mark should share the same subject, as in the following sentence where the verb "start" and "think" share the same subject "I" :

To start with, I think I must explain the aim of this meeting.

Am I thinking this wrong or am I correct?

  • Expressions like "to conclude" and "to sum up" are clauses (not phrases!) They typically function as supplementary adjuncts, since they are entirely optional and outside clause structure. We stopped calling such elements phrases many years ago. "To start" can be expanded into "To start the discussion" where "start" has "the discussion" as its direct object. Same with "to sum up": this can be expanded into "to sum up the matter" where "the matter" is object of the verb "sum". – BillJ Sep 3 '16 at 13:10
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To start

To review by region

These are phrases not clauses. They are infinitive phrases with "to" as the marker and the infinitive form of the verb (the first entry in the dictionary) start, review. Infinitive phrases can act as either a noun or an adjective or an adverb, depending on how they are used in the sentence.

You can start a sentence several different ways, and two of them are with either an adjective or an adverb:

Angry, he threw the glass down on the floor.

Unfortunately, that is not true.

And the same goes for infinitive phrases. Keep in mind an infinitive phrase can be more than "to find" or "to ask" etc. It can have complements and modifiers too: To review by region [by region is a prepositional phrase modifying "review"]. Sometimes the marker "to" is omitted and understood: I'll help you wash the dishes. = I'll help you (to) wash the dishes.

See page 78.

http://images.pcmac.org/SiSFiles/Schools/AL/HooverCity/SpainParkHigh/Uploads/Forms/Start%20Holt%20Handbook%2010.pdf

http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/infinitive_form.htm

http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/infinitive_phrase.htm

  • No Problem. I'm new and your the first to respond with a "Thanks." I appreciate that. – Arch Denton Sep 3 '16 at 11:06
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All three sentences are grammatical and natural.

The "To . . .," parts are all introductory subordinate clauses, and none of them are, or contain, the subject of the sentences.

You may be confused by the fact that "full infinitives", (to + [verb]) can be used as the subject in some sentences:

To love is to act.

--Victor Hugo

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    You were right first time; they are clauses, not phrases. We stopped calling such elements phrases many years ago. "To start" can be expanded into "To start the discussion" where "start" has "the discussion" as its direct object. Same with "to sum up": this can be expanded into "to sum up the matter" where "the matter" is object of the verb "sum". – BillJ Sep 3 '16 at 13:08
  • Thanks. That was my sense. Likely, some grammars still call them this, some that, some particle-prepended adverbial demi-constituents. – Jim Reynolds Sep 3 '16 at 13:30
  • Oh. Supplementary adjunct sounds CGELian. – Jim Reynolds Sep 3 '16 at 13:33
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    Wow, that's a heck of a mouthful! Yes, 'supplementary adjunct' is a term H&P use, and it sums up these adjuncts very nicely. 'Supplementary' because they are loosely attached expressions (like appendages or interpolations) outside clause structure, set apart in writing by punctuation and by intonation in speech, and 'adjunct' because they are optional elements. – BillJ Sep 3 '16 at 14:08

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