2

I am wondering whether the logical subject of an infinitive should be the same with the subject of the main clause if the infinitive is used as an adverb of purpose in a sentence. As for this matter, I found two sayings.

In the website http://www.grammaring.com/the-infinitive-of-purpose, it is said that "The infinitive of purpose can only be used if the doer of the action expressed by the infinitive is the same as the subject of the main clause."

While in the website http://www.rit.edu/ntid/rate/sea/processes/infinitives/grammatical/subjects/purpose it is said that "the logical subject of the infinitive is not the subject of the main clause" , for example "The technicians were fired by the management to reduce costs." and "The technicians were fired to reduce costs."

Based on the two, I am wondering whether I could come to the conclusion that if the main clause is active then the logical subject of the infinitive should be the same as the subject of the main clause, and if the main clause is passive then the logical subject subject of the infinitive should not be the same as the subject of the main clause. Am I right?

1

Your analysis is admirable.

You may combine the two partial formulas by distinguishing between a clause's Subject (a syntactic role) and its Agent (a semantic role):

The infinitive of purpose ascribes the purpose which it expresses to the Agent of its head clause.

  • ACTIVE: [SUBJECTThe managementAGENT] fired [DIRECT OBJECTthe techniciansPATIENT] to reduce costs.

  • PASSIVE: [SUBJECTThe techniciansPATIENT] were fired by [the managementAGENT] to reduce costs.

    The Subject is the Agent in the active sentence and the Patient in the passive sentence, but in both cases the purpose is ascribed to the Agent.

| improve this answer | |

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.