When Hillary tried to climb Everest, the goal was his to achieve.

I saw this today and it seems a bit strange to me. From what I understand, "to achieve" is a noun and we can put a possessive adjective before it. But is this pattern used often? I don't think I've seen it very much.

  1. The goal was his to achieve.
  2. The goal was for him to achieve.

Both the sentences are correct and mean the same.

The goal was his to achieve.

In this sentence The goal is the subject of the sentence, verb is was and predicate is his to achieve.

Now leave to achieve and the sentence will reduce to The goal was his. His is a possessive pronoun, modifying the goal. The goal is his - this sentence clearly says whose goal it is.

Now add to achieve. The sentence becomes - The goal was his to achieve. Now to achieve part is for his task.

Yes this kind of pattern occurs often and very natural and correct.

Is this clear now?

  • What if it's not "his" but "her" ? So it would be "the goal was hers" and "The goal was hers to achieve".? – user2747502 Apr 4 '14 at 13:24
  • Correct. And another variety is "for her to achieve". Both bears the same meaning. – Man_From_India Apr 4 '14 at 13:25
  • So I must use a possessive pronoun in my example, not a possessive adjective? But why my fist understanding is wrong ? I mean we can consider that "to achieve" is a noun and her/his is a possessive adjective and we usually can put a possessive adjective before a noun. – user2747502 Apr 4 '14 at 13:33
  • I think "his", "hers" etc are possessive pronoun. Never knew they are possessive adjectives as well. No idea. But there is no issue of your considering "to achieve" as a noun, in my opinion. – Man_From_India Apr 4 '14 at 13:51

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