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Source: "A Cmmunicative Grammar of English" by Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik (p.328-329)

As you can see, the book says:

● Nominal to-fininitive clause as subject:

To say there is no afterlife would mean a rejection of religion.

● Nominal to-fininitive clause as direct object:

We want everyone to be happy.

● Nominal to-infinitive clause as subject complement:

The minister's first duty will be to stop inflation.

● Nominal to-infinitive clause as complement of an adjective:

I was very glad to help in this way.

The subject of a to-fininitive is normally introduced by for. A pronoun subject here has the objective form:

What I wanted waas for them to advance me the money.

Is it persuasive for an adjective to take a nominal complement directly? I thought the infinitive clause seems to be an adverbial, not a nominal because It seems to postmodify glad. I'm not sure of it, though. Is it like "worth" in the clause of "the view was worth it"?

  • 2
    What do you mean: Is it persuasive?Unfortunately, by pasting a page instead of text, I can't copy those examples to comment on them.
    – Lambie
    Feb 13, 2019 at 15:40
  • I'm penitent. forgive me for my broken English. For an adjective to take a nominal complement is not persuasive, isn't it? This is my original intent. But in that case "persuasive" is not correct? T.T Is it persuasive that an adjective takes a nominal complement? Would you tell me If this is correct? And I edited just now.
    – JYJ
    Feb 13, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    Your English is not broken (pidgin). Persuasive is not the right word here. Your author is saying that "glad" is an adjective and that it is followed by a "to-infinitive". I see nothing odd about that. He is calling "to help in any way" a complement of the adjective glad. The point, though,is the pattern, not the name for it.
    – Lambie
    Feb 13, 2019 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


Numerous adjectives like “glad”, “anxious”, “sure”, “amazed” etc. license infinitivals, and hence such clauses are complements. By contrast, adjuncts (your adverbials) do not have to be licensed by the head.

I don't know why the authors talk of 'nominal to-infinitive clauses. Infinitivals are not nominals; they are clauses, not noun-like expressions.

Consequently, they don't functioning as direct objects. Take the cited example:

We want everyone [to be happy].

"Everyone to be happy" is not direct object of "want". “Want” is a catenative verb and “to be happy” is its catenative complement. The intervening NP “everyone” is the syntactic object of “want”, but only the understood subject of “to be happy”. “Everyone” is called a ‘raised’ object because the verb that it relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically.

"Worth" is often called a transitive adjective because in addition to clauses, it licenses NP complements: "It's not worth the money".

  • I'm immensely grateful to you for your help. The book has no arguments for why they view the infinitive clause as nominals. So I enquired about that. Relying on your answer, I take a shot in the dark that the authors might have viewed "glad" as a transitive adjective like "worth". And as to "want", they i.e. "everyone" and "to be happy" might have been viewed as inseparable by the authors, not grammatically but semantically because the content we want is not "everyone" and "to be happy", but "everyone to be happy" itself.
    – JYJ
    Feb 13, 2019 at 17:14
  • The book was written in 1975 and linguistic nomenclature has changed since then. No, "glad" and "worth it" are not the same thing at all: to be glad [or anything other adjective, basically] versus "to be worth it", an anaphoric-type idiom. They function differently.
    – Lambie
    Feb 13, 2019 at 17:58
  • @JYJ No, "glad" is not a transitive adjective, since it cannot license (specifically require) a noun phrase as complement. There are only four transitive adjectives: "worth", "due", "like" and "unlike". Adjectival "worth" does permit clausal complements, as well as NPs, but not infinitivals, e.g. "It's worth giving some further though to" / "His suggestions are not worth bothering about".
    – BillJ
    Feb 13, 2019 at 18:16
  • The book says it is a to-infinitive that is a complement to an adjective in the sense of coming after the adjective. This is a very common description. To complement does not mean direct object.
    – Lambie
    Feb 13, 2019 at 18:31
  • It's good to know. Thanks a lot. The book I have is a third edition published in 2002. I've bought it as a used book recently.
    – JYJ
    Feb 13, 2019 at 19:16

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