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In the following sentence, I'd like to know what part of speech "to continue" is: "As South Korean workers strive to find a work-life balance, this trend looks set to continue."

I'm asking because I need to help students understand the idea of "looks set to continue," and I'm not sure if the the phrase should be divided "looks set" or "looks set to..." I would like students to know that besides "continue" other verbs can be used such as "stop" or "fail." I'm not sure if it is "looks set" followed by an infinitive, or if "to continue" is some kind of adjunct or complement.

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To continue is an infinitive. It could also be called the marked infinitive or the to-infinitive to distinguish it from the bare infinitive (continue).

In the expression looks set to continue, set is an adjective.

Oxford gives this explanation under set adj:

predicative Ready, prepared, or likely to do something.

‘the first family was set for a quiet night of rest’

‘both are all set to get married’

with infinitive ‘water costs look set to increase’

Note that the phrase "this trend looks set to continue" mirrors a number of similar phrases of the type NOUN + finite verb + ADJ + infinitive. For example:

  • It is set to fail.
  • It looks likely to stop.
  • It seems unlikely to continue.
  • It is intended to continue.
  • She looks set to succeed.
  • He is destined to fall.
  • I am happy to help.
  • She is quick to assist.
  • He is inclined to be critical.
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The construction is [look set to] + INFINITIVE.

If you do an internet search for "looks set to", you should find thousands of examples, such as:

"Taliban Offensive Looks Set to Take Provincial Capital"; "Kane Wilson, 16, looks set to become the first player born after 2000 to play in the Premier League"; ...

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