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Infinitives can act as nouns, adjectives & adverbs in a sentence.

A friend to call would be nice.

Here, "to call" modifies the noun "friend". Therefore an adjective. But in the sentence:

I went outside to sing.

does "to sing" act as an adverb or adjective? The book says that "to sing" modifies the verb "went" (hence an adverb) but doesn't it modify the noun "outside" (hence an adjective).

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    "To call" is not an adjective; it's category is 'infinitival clause' and its function is 'modifier' (not adjective). In your other example, the infinitival clause "to sing" is a purpose adjunct modifying the VP "went outside". It gives the purpose for your going outside. – BillJ Apr 23 '17 at 12:40
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    @BillJ, you should promote your comment to an answer. – Malvolio Apr 23 '17 at 13:29
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A friend to call would be nice.

"To call" is not an adjective; it's category is 'infinitival relative clause' and its function is modifier of "friend".

I went outside to sing.

Here, the infinitival clause "to sing" is a purpose adjunct modifying the VP "went outside". It gives the purpose for your going outside

  • This should have remained a comment, since no supporting or exemplifying links are given. – green_ideas Apr 23 '17 at 16:56
  • @Clare Don't be ridiculous! This is very basic grammar - hardly in need of what you call "supporting or exemplifying links". – BillJ Apr 23 '17 at 17:00
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    Infinitival relative clause and purpose adjunct are not terms that most learners are familiar with. One could also say that of Infinitival clause in describing to sing. So the answer would be greatly improved by such links as I've mentioned. This is a learner's site. – green_ideas Apr 23 '17 at 17:20
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    @Clare I'm aware of what the site is, thank you. What gives you the right to assert what contributors are or are not familiar with. That strikes me as being arrogant. If the OP has any questions, they are free to ask away. Not that I'm especially bothered, but down-marking a correct answer infers that the answer is wrong or defective in some way, which it isn't. It's entry level basic grammar. Why don't you put your own answer up? – BillJ Apr 23 '17 at 17:46
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    This is not "entry-level basic grammar". This terminology is not in common use among fluent speakers. Using it without qualification wrongly suggests that it is in common use. Regarding your reply to @Clare, it's quite reasonable and helpful to show some empathy for the kind of readers to whom ELL is targeted. You know perfectly well that the OP isn't familiar with CGEL jargon, because he called "to call" an adjective. Answers with opaque or misleading writing should be downvoted. – Ben Kovitz May 24 '17 at 0:05

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