1. I thought Ela to have beaten Ron.

(The sentence may sound ridiculous and unconventional, but I made it solely to understand the Infinitive and their functions better and will never choose these kind of sentences in daily speaking.)

Ela is the object of the verb 'thought' and the agent of Infinitive verb. The Infinitive clause is the complement of the main verb 'thought'

My first question is Can I change the voice of Infinitive clause and make the sentence like

I thought Ron to have been beaten by Ela.

Here Ron is now the object of the verb thought, but this time 'Ron' is the patient of Infinitive verb not the agent....and Infinitive clause is again the verb complement.

  1. He told me he had locked the door.

My second question, 'that he had locked the door' is a noun clause' but I am confused how it's working...is it working as an object or a complement of the verb 'told'?

  1. My third question is connected to the first And second... that's why I'm having to ask it in the same question to give u(reader) a complete understanding of what I know and What I don't know.

He told me the door to have been locked by him.

(I have already been told that this sentence is not grammatical...and gives no sense. But as a non- native speaker I have no way of knowing...it is giving or not...unless I know what grammar rules it not follows.....)

From my understanding,

'told' is the verb...'me' is the object.....'the door' is the 'patient' and the whole Infinitive Clause is perhaps the complement of the verb 'told' or simply a verb complement. (The verb 'told' is catenative as someone told me....and it has to catenative complement here)

Sorry, for making the question too long.... but I simply did to increase the chance of getting the spot on answer of my question.

  • I thought Ela to have beaten Ron is grammatically correct, but sounds formal and old-fashioned. In everyday speech we would say I thought [that] Ela had beaten Ron. However, we can write Ela was thought to have beaten Ron. Apr 4, 2021 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


1 Yes, you can switch it around like that. As Kate Bunting has pointed out in comments, one would very rarely write "I thought Ela to have beaten Ron" rather than "I thought Ela had beaten Ron".

2 It's the object of "told". Just like "He told me the secret".

3 Indeed, "He told me the door to have been locked by him" is not grammatical. (Well ... maybe it is, but with a different meaning from the one you have in mind. "Here are two doors. It was George's job to lock one of the doors last night and Alicia's job to lock the other. I couldn't remember which was which, so I asked George which was the door to have been locked by him and which was the one to have been locked by her.", etc. But even that is pretty strained and ugly and you certainly shouldn't write that way even if it's not outright wrong. And, again, it's not the meaning you have in mind.)

I'm not sure exactly what your question is here, but I guess it's "why is this sentence ungrammatical?". (If it's "how exactly should I parse this sentence?", the answer is that the sentence is ungrammatical and you can't parse it correctly :-).)

Well, the sentence is meant to have the same sort of top-level structure as "He told me he had locked the door", in which the direct object of "told" is a fact (or at least an alleged fact), like "[that] he had locked the door". In this case, what we have filling that slot is "the door to have been locked by him", and unlike "[that] he had locked the door" this doesn't state a fact.

"To have been locked" is an infinitive form of the verb. Infinitives are used in a number of different ways in English, but one thing they have in common, that's different from most finite verb uses, is that they don't assert that a thing actually happened. If I say "He locked the door", then I'm describing (or at least claiming to describe) an actual event. If I say "To lock the door" ... well, that isn't a sentence, but in most sentences where I use those words they don't refer to an actual event. "I was ordered to lock the door": I was given an order about a possible future event. "Would it have been wiser to lock the door?": I'm wondering about a possible past event that didn't happen. There are exceptions: "Was it wise to lock the door?". But by and large, infinitival clauses describe events that haven't happened yet, or that could have happened but didn't, rather than ones that actually did. But the "He told me ..." construction you're using here demands something that describes an actual event for him to be telling me about. (Or at least one that he claims is an actual event; he could be lying.)

(You might notice that "He told me to lock the door" is perfectly good English. Does that contradict what I'm saying? No, because this is a different use of "told": it means "commanded", not "informed". It's describing an action that hasn't happened yet.)

  • I thought ' the door to have to locked by him' would give same meaning as ' that he had locked the door' so they could be interchanged and I did parsing of the sentence assuming the sentence right...but u r right how can we parse an ungrammatical sentence....Thanks for giving a spot-on and accurate answer......And, can I write ' You are said to have given a correct answer'.......in the sense of (It is said [that] you have given a correct answer.....if this sentence is correct,how Infinitives clause is working here
    – RADS
    Apr 5, 2021 at 4:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .