The Infinitive phrase may be

subject: For you to learn English is good

subjective complement: My desire is for my family to be happy

object: I consider it better for children to learn English early


But I don't know whether the infinitive phrase may be determiner of a preceding noun head as in

"In any cities for there to be a lot of accidents children shouldn't go out alone".

Could you explain that?

  • I would call them infinitival clauses, not phrases. In your last example, the infinitival clause is odd. We would normally say "In any city where there are lots of accidents, children shouldn't go out alone".
    – BillJ
    Jan 13, 2018 at 11:47
  • Thank for your explanation of the use of the infinitive. But in the grammar book written by Marcella Frank, titled "Modern English a practical reference guide", he said: "...the infinitive phrase may function, not as the main verb of a clause, but another part of speech-- either as a noun, adjective or adverb,as in "She has no one to help her" (to help her functioning the adjective), or "Not to have won first prize was disappointing" (Not to have won first prize, infinitve phrase used as a noun, functioning 'subject' of the finite verb 'was'. Jan 14, 2018 at 23:53
  • Sorry, but the author is wrong. We stopped calling them 'phrases' many years ago, and they don't function as another part of speech. Noun, adjective etc., are parts of speech, not functions like subject, complement, modifier etc. I suggest you buy a competent up-to-date grammar book!
    – BillJ
    Jan 15, 2018 at 7:38
  • What about "Engcyclopedia of English". In that book, they said:'A group of words may have the grammatic value of one word, that is, it may perform the offices of a single part of speech. If such a sense unit has neither subject nor predicate, it is called a phrase. Usually phrases are considered prepositional, participle, gerund, or infinitive, as in The ability to draw a conclusion is not indicative of artistic talent. Jan 16, 2018 at 23:45
  • Still wrong!. "To draw a conclusion" is an infinitival clause functioning as complement of "ability". Like most non-finite clauses, it is subjectless, and here no particular subject is intended for the infinitival, though it we could be paraphrased with "one" ("the ability of one to draw a conclusion ...".
    – BillJ
    Jan 17, 2018 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


Your sentence is more or less(*) grammatical, but probably doesn't convey the meaning you want it to convey.

In any cities / for there to be a lot of accidents / children shouldn't go out alone.

Your main clause is at the end of your sentence, and both of your other clauses are subordinate to the main clause - they don't depend on each other:

In any cities, children shouldn't go out alone.

For there to be a lot of accidents, children shouldn't go out alone.

The problem is that your infinitive clause has a different meaning that you expect: for there to be means the same as in order for there to be. In other words, your sentence means that if children don't go out alone, there will be a lot of accidents.

What you probably wanted to say is:

In any cities in which there are a lot of accidents, children shouldn't go out alone.

(*) "any" isn't really natural as an object without something to narrow it down (?"Take any book" vs "Take any book you want"), and you need a comma if your subordinate clause comes before the clause that's modified by it:

In cities, for there to be a lot of accidents, children shouldn't go out alone.

  • 1
    It should be "any city" or just "cities". Apr 5, 2018 at 21:42

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