1. It was driving me crazy not knowing what they were.

  2. It was driving me crazy not to know/ to not know what they were.

  • Your question, based on a false premise, is unanswerable as neither is incorrect. Just like a gerund, an infinitive can be used as an object following a verb (gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/verbs/…), so you can say it either way. This is an example of there being more than one way to skin a cat. How you say it is completely up to you since, grammatically, it makes no difference, nor does one sound more natural than the other, though if I were to use the infinitive, I personally would be more likely to split the infinitive and say "to not know." Jul 14, 2021 at 2:19

1 Answer 1


[1] It was driving me crazy [not knowing what they were].

[2] It was driving me crazy [not to know/ to not know what they were].

Both are correct.

[1] is an example of 'right dislocation', a special kind of construction where an extra element (here, the bracketed clause) has been added to the right of the main part of the clause. The idea is that the later element provides a referential interpretation/clarification of the pronoun "it".

Note that the two elements would normally be separated by a comma in writing and a slight pause in speech.

Right dislocation normally occurs with noun phrases, though gerund-participial clauses like that in [1] are also possible. Infinitival clauses are freely permitted in extraposition constructions, but are rarely right-dislocated, and hence [2] would be best analysed as an example not of dislocation but of extraposition.

  • Why isn't [1] considered an extraposition too? You can say: Not knowing what they were was driving me crazy.
    – Manar
    Jul 14, 2021 at 20:45

You must log in to answer this question.

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