3

I found the following sentence in a fanfiction:

To think you would stoop so low as to become that girl's second husband.

I am thinking it's wrongly used, because the sentence is incomplete. What should the second part of the sentence look like? I am thinking there are multiple answers to this, could you give me a few example of how to complete this sentence. I am seeing people use the expression in a similar manner, but I feel it would only be correct if they put an ellipsis (...) after it.

12

To think in this context is an idiomatic expression used to express surprise or dismay and thus is not constrained by typical grammar rules about infinitives as subjects.

As a whole, its meaning is along the lines of

"It's surprising that..." or

"It's shameful that..."

It doesn't mean "Thinking that..." as it would in a sentence like "To think [that] the moon is made of cheese is incorrect."

  • Idioms don't necessarily need to be internally consistent or grammatical—but the sentences in which they are found (if they are not sentences themselves) should normally be grammatical. If used as a narrative sentence, this would be a sentence fragment and wouldn't be excused merely because it's an idiom. However, writing often does use ungrammatical sentences for stylistic effect. So, it might be fine in the right context. It would also be fine as a line of dialogue spoken by someone. There isn't enough context here to determine what the case is with this specific quotation. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 13 at 4:48
  • 2
    @JasonBassford The quotation in the OP's question is a complete sentence and is grammatically correct - or is that not what you meant. The full translation would be "It is shameful that you would become that girl's second husband." – Martin Bonner supports Monica May 13 at 9:54
  • No, the quotation is not a complete sentence. (Although your paraphrase of it is.) The sentence fragment itself is grammatically correct (or as an idiom it is irrelevant)—but, as a formal sentence in its entirety, it is not. (What I had meant is that it doesn't need to be a complete sentence in order to be used in some contexts.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 13 at 13:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.