“Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear. (Jane Eyre)

It seems ‘your fate to be required to bear’ is a to-infinitive clause (or non-finite-clause by Bas Aarts:“They would hate [Jim to sell his boat].” ) and the object of cannot bear ; 'what it is' means 'whatever it is' and can be put in brackets. Can all transitive verbs take the clauses as their objects?

  • Notice that the infinite clause is "to be required to bear."
    – apaderno
    Feb 24, 2013 at 13:47
  • I'm going to remove of this one and move into ELU. Would you leave your reply again.
    – Listenever
    Feb 24, 2013 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


The complement of the bear in “you cannot bear” is “what it is your fate to be required to bear” and means “the things that you must bear.” The infinitive clause “to be required to bear” answers not the question “What can can you not bear?” but “Of what facet of your fate do we speak?”

The syntax here is quite distinct from that in “They would hate Jim to sell his boat.”


Verbs that can be followed by objects that are infinitive clauses include agree, begin, decide, hope, intend, like, plan, and propose. Not all the transitive verbs can use an infinite clause as object.

  • "Propose to?" as in "I proposed to go"? Sounds wrong to my ears. Dec 13, 2014 at 9:08
  • I agree that I proposed to go sounds odd; but When do you propose to leave? and I propose to talk to them next week seem OK. Not sure why: it's partly that it goes better in the present than the past, but I don't think that's the whole of the story.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 11, 2022 at 11:15

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