There are some sentences which i can't figure out the function of the phrase. Can you help me?

1- [To look at], the helmet resembles nothing so much as a novelty head massage gadget with several spidery arms

To look at seems like a verb phrase but i can't decide. Also what is the function? Is it a object complement or something else?

2- [To perform at Madison Square Gardens] was her highest ambition.

Same with here. can't decide if it is preposition or verb phrase. Also is it the subject of the sentence?

1 Answer 1


These are infinitive phrases. They are headed by a verb in its infinitive form.

The word "to" is not a preposition, but a particle, and a marker that the verb is in its infinitive form.

In the first case, the infinitive phrase acts as a sentence adjunct, it modifies how we interpret the whole sentence, but isn't essential to the grammar.

Sentences can often start with this kind of "adjunct", which may be an adverb, prepositional phrase, participle phrase or infinitive phrase.

In the second case, the infinitive phrase is the grammatical subject of the sentence. Every sentence must have a subject, which can be a noun (phrase), pronoun, gerund or infinitive phrase

You must log in to answer this question.

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