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
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 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.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 12:35

1 Answer 1


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?

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