So, I have come across a sentence:

1.He brought a camera to take photographs.

Then I wondered, Can I use this format and say :

  1. He brought a pen to write.

However, it doesn't sound right to me when I used "a pen to write". It sounds more right to say

  1. "I brought a pen to write with."

    What is the grammar rule behind this? May I also say

4."I brought a camera to take pictures with." ?


As FumbleFingers said in a note, there is nothing wrong with any of your sentences.

However, I'd ask the following:

What other reasons are there to buy a pen, other than to write? Why else would one buy a camera, if not to take pictures?

In other words, on the basis that it's nearly always better to be more concise, why not say:

He brought a pen.

He brought a camera.

So imagine this sentence:

James was a journalist. He arrived around 8pm with a pen and camera and proceeded to interview us about the events of the day.

Unless James intends to do something unexpected with the pen and camera, there's no need to mention why he has them.

  • "What other reasons are there to buy a pen, other than to write?" In the case of an expensive pen, to display wealth. I know of plenty of Pilot pens that exist to be seen in a pocket and are never used for anything as mundane as writing. – Michael Harvey Mar 14 '19 at 19:00
  • @MichaelHarvey Yes, but then you'd specify: He bought a pen to display. The point is that if you don't specify something, the normal purpose is assumed. – Jason Bassford Mar 14 '19 at 19:04

He brought a pen to write.

You are correct that this does not properly convey the idea that he brought the pen in order to use it for writing. Consider these other examples of the same structure:

He brought a game to play.
He brought a book to read.

When you use a structure like that, the infinitive at the end is something that the noun will be the object of. You play a game, you read a book, but you don't write a pen.

Now, it's true that there's a now generally disagreed-with rule saying not to end a sentence with a preposition. You might work with a boss or a teacher who actually expects people to follow that, and if you don't feel like fighting them on it, you might just want to go along with it. In that case, you would say:

He brought a pen with which to write.

However, for people not stuck to 19th century grammar rules that were essentially arbitrary, there's nothing wrong with:

He brought a pen to write with.

Some people prefer, sometimes, the poetry and rhythm of the "with which to write" version, even if they don't think there's anything wrong with "to write with". You also might choose to do it to produce a more refined impression of your writing. It might also come across as pretentious, so be careful.

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