We have a phrase: "Besides, Seth had an afternoon guided fishing trip to run that began at 3 pm, during the hottest part of the day."

Explain please the grammar sentence construction, especially the first part. Is that split infinitive "Seth had ..... to run" and "had" is there a modal verb?

If I rephrase it to "Seth had to run an afternoon guided fishing trip that began at 3 pm" will it have the same meaning like original sentence? As I know split infinitive used when between participle "to" and "verb" is an adverb... correct me please if I'm not right

  • Where did you find the example sentence?
    – Jasper
    Sep 28, 2017 at 16:30
  • This is not a split infinitive. In a split infinitive, there is a word or phrase after the word "to" and before the associated infinitive; e.g. "to effectively run".
    – sumelic
    Sep 28, 2017 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


Seth had a trip to run

Is had a modal verb with the same meaning as Seth had to run a trip?

No; the infinitival to run is in this case actually an adjunct modifying trip, designating an assigned or expected future action: the same construction appears in contexts other than have:

I can't come tonight: my boss handed me a report to finish by first thing in the morning.
She's bored and looking for something to do.
I bought some doughnuts to take to work.

But your conjecture is a shrewd one: HAVE Obj to VERB is in fact believed to be the construction out of which the quasi-modal construction HAVE to VERB developed.

  • Thank you very much! could you pls give a link or a name of that grammar topic to read about it more... if it´s possible
    – Jane
    Sep 28, 2017 at 16:54
  • @AlexeyKutsenko Is this --see particularly §§2.2 and 3--the sort of thing you want? Sep 28, 2017 at 17:11
  • 2
    It might be worth noting that "split infinitive" usually refers to a separation between the "to" and the base verb: to boldly go, to quickly run, to carefully consider, to cautiously suggest. The only infinitive in the example sentence is "to run", and there is nothing to split the "to" from the "run". Sep 28, 2017 at 17:21
  • Despite having asked about the usage on ELU some years ago, I'd never consciously recognised that HAVE to (="must") VERB probably derives from HAVE Obj to VERB. Perhaps it's significant that many/most of us usually prefer to blur that historical link by the haff / hat pronunciations. It's like we want it to be a completely different word. Perhaps because the alternative must is so syntactically screwed up (consider I must to London tonight!, where go would have been "optional" since at least Shakespeare's time). Sep 28, 2017 at 17:41
  • FWIW, I found 92 written instances of I have to pick a bone with (you) and 10 of I must pick a bone with you. They all sound "facetious" to me, but they're dwarfed by an estimated 7000+ hits for I have a bone to pick with you anyway. That one presumably survives as a "frozen form", despite an overall trend towards a different sequence. Sep 28, 2017 at 17:54

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