She waited until Ellie went off to the bog; then got up, came over to tell me she was leaving, and said I could have my bangle back; the one I gave her when we had our commitment ceremony. She chucked it down on the table in front of me, with everyone fucking gawping. So I picked it up and said, ‘Anyone fancy this, it’s going spare?’ and she fucked off.” (The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith)

I would incline to read the bold part as: “came over and told me.” But I wonder if it can have this meaning: “came over in order to tell me.”? In many cases, when there isn't obvious cause-effect relationship with the previous verb, it seems that to read to-infinitive as the former way - successively or resultatively - is more natural than purpose interpretation.
Which way do I have to read the example? And is there some tips to distinguish between the two interpretations?

  • 4
    Yes, in order to tell me is the correct interpretation. – Jim Sep 26 '14 at 5:42
  • 2
    "to" there means "having the intention". I phoned him to say that I was going to be late. Verb X intending to do Verb Y. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 26 '14 at 12:35

came over to tell me

Right, that means "came over in order to tell me". It is actually not cause-effect, it's rather a purpose and a mean to achieve it.

came over and told me

Could you provide a clear example in which this kind of interpretation is obviously correct?

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.