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Examples:

  1. I strive, to get success to me.
  2. The old man with a beer bottle ran, to learn to run without spilling.
  3. An apple fell, to adhere to gravity.

If commas don't work can you recommend what I should use instead. I want to make it clear that the 2nd to (used as a preposition) is only referring to the infinitive and not anything left of the comma.

  • 1
    None of your examples are "natural" (or even "credible") utterances, regardless of whether you include commas. – FumbleFingers Sep 26 '17 at 14:16
  • @FumbleFingers Why is that? – user58712 Sep 26 '17 at 17:13
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    The second and third are very strange things to say, regardless of exactly how they're expressed in English. If I understand what you mean correctly, the first one could be phrased as I strive to obtain success, and the last as An apple fell under the influence of gravity. For the second one, perhaps The old man ran with a beer bottle, [in order to] to learn to run without spilling. You'd have to post each of them here separately to ask exactly why they're "unnatural" (but note that you'd have to show evidence of research, or they'd be closed as "proofreading"). – FumbleFingers Sep 26 '17 at 17:53
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    @user58712 - "The noun verbed, to other-verb" means that the noun verbed for the purpose of other-verbing. It sounds pretty weird to say that the apple fell for the purpose of adhering to gravity! – stangdon Sep 26 '17 at 21:38
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    1. I strive in order to achieve success. (We don't say "get success to me".) As for #3: An apple fell because of gravity. (We wouldn't use the preposition to because, insofar as gravity is concerned, there isn't any motivation for the apple to fall, as @stangdon explains in a comment quite well.) You'll just have to take our word for it that, with or without the comma, your original sentences are very rough at best. – J.R. Sep 26 '17 at 21:40
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This is not a standard use of a comma.

The basic uses of a comma include

  • separating parallel elements of a series:

    red, white, and blue

  • apposition:

    Marge, my mother's sister, was late

    but do not ordinarily include dividing a single phrase.

    In your three examples, the infinitive is a complement of the main verb and thus wouldn't be separated by a comma.

  • One commonly-seen piece of guidance is to use a comma where you would pause in speech. (I've seen several reputable websites debunk that as a "comma myth".) I wonder if that's where the OP got the notion that commas might be acceptable where they were put in the three sentences found in the question. – J.R. Sep 26 '17 at 14:18
  • Quite possibly and I think that's a quasi-rule or perhaps better considered the opposite direction (pause when you see a comma) – eques Sep 26 '17 at 14:24
  • @J.R. If you mean me by OP. That's not why I ask. I edited the question to answer your question. – user58712 Sep 26 '17 at 17:18
  • what in mean in the main post about the uses of a comma or the quasi-rule I mentioned in my comma? – eques Sep 26 '17 at 17:23
  • @eques Although unusual, would my usage off the comma be acceptable? And I don't understand what you mean by opposite rule. – user58712 Sep 26 '17 at 17:31
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These commas are very much on the borderline of acceptability and I'd advise against them.

I'm not sure what you mean by "I want to make it clear that the 2nd to (used as a proposition) is only referring to the infinitive".

If what you mean is that "I strive, to get success" is not to be interpreted as meaning "I strive in order to get success", then actually the way to clarify this is to avoid the infinitive and write:

I strive, [thus] getting [or gaining] success.

Similarly:

The old man with a beer bottle ran, to learn to run without spilling.

If what you mean is that the man didn't run in order to learn to run without spilling, but rather that by (or while) running he learnt to run without spilling, you should say:

The old man with a beer bottle ran, [thus] learning to run without spilling.

It sounds better with "thus" or "thereby" if the learning occurs as an unintentional by-product, or without "thus"/"thereby" if the learning is an intentional by-product.

An apple fell, to adhere to gravity.

If what you mean is, not that the apple fell in order to adhere to gravity (which is an odd thought), but that the apple fell and thereby adhered to gravity, you should say:

An apple fell, [thus] adhering to gravity.

  • I do mean I strive in order to get success. I mean that the 2nd to only refers to words to the right side of the comma. – user58712 Sep 26 '17 at 23:08
  • To say that you strive in order to get success, you simply say "I strive to get success" (though "gain" or "achieve" might be more idiomatic). There's no need for a comma. – rjpond Sep 26 '17 at 23:10

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