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I see some sentences like the below:

  1. In order for food to be considered raw, it must not have been heated over 46°C (115°F).
  2. For a person to be considered a suspect case of Ebola, they must have a sudden fever.
  3. For a laptop to be considered one of the best, it'd need one of these.

Question #1: The structure "For ... to be considered …" is used in all the above sentences. I think at least in the last two sentences, it could be said "A person/laptop is considered ..." instead. Am I right? or would they imply different meanings?

Question #2: What grammatical function does the "FOR ..." part play here?

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    If you remove for, you'll have to include if to retain salt of the sentence. A laptop is considered the best if it has any of these features... or something like that. – Maulik V Jan 6 '15 at 6:39
  • I had the same thought as I mentioned in the question. Do you think what is the role of "For" in above sentences? – qartal Jan 6 '15 at 6:45
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  1. In order [ for food to be considered raw ], it must not have been heated over 46C.
  2. [ For a person to be considered a suspect case of Ebola ], they must have a sudden fever.
  3. [ For a laptop to be considered one of the best ], it'd need one of these.

In the above three examples, the italicized expressions (which are also marked by the pair of […] brackets) are to-infinitival clauses. These to-infinitival clauses have their own subjects which are marked by the word "for" which is also a clause subordinator.


Question #1: The structure "For ... to be considered …" is used in all the above sentences. I think at least in the last two sentences, it could be said "A person/laptop is considered ..." instead. Am I right? or would they imply different meanings?

Answer: In general, you can't blindly replace the to-infinitival clause with a finite clause and expect the result to be grammatical. Though, sometimes it will result in being grammatical, very often it won't. The basic meaning of the to-infinitival clause, when taken in isolation, can often be roughly paraphrased by a finite clause (though the meaning is not really the same). For instance, using the to-infinitival clause from the OP's example #3:

  • For a laptop to be considered one of the best

it could be thought to have, in a rough sense, the meaning of the finite clause "a laptop is considered one of the best" (which was suggested by the OP). But you can't blindly use that finite clause to replace the to-infinitival clause in example #3:

  • 3.b. A laptop is considered one of the best, it'd need one of these.

for the result (#3.b) is ungrammatical. But notice that for example #1 when a finite clause is substituted for its to-infinitival, it seems to produce a somewhat dubious result:

  • 1.b. In order that food is considered raw, it must not have been heated over 46C.

er, anyhow.


Question #2: What grammatical function does the "FOR ..." part play here?

Answer: The word "for" in the to-infinitival clause is a clause subordinator, which is used to mark the subject of the to-infinitival clause.



Aside: In the OP's three examples, the subject of the to-infinitival and the subject of the main clause are the same, and the to-infinitival's subject could be deleted. For instance:

  • 1.e. In order [ to be considered raw ], food must not have been heated over 46C.
  • 2.e. [ To be considered a suspect case of Ebola ], a person must have a sudden fever.
  • 3.e. [ To be considered one of the best ], a laptop would need one of these.

Aside: For example #3 (and #2), notice that the to-infinitival clause could be moved back to its canonical position in the sentence, as seen in version #3.f:

  • 3.f. A laptop would need one of these [ (for it) to be considered one of the best ].

and this shows that the difference between version #3.f and the OP's example #3 is that the OP's example had its to-infinitival clause fronted.


Aside: There might be a possibility that one or other of those "for" words in the expression could be considered to be a preposition -- where the expression might be parsed as "for [NP + to-infinitival]", or as "PP + to-infinitival".

Here's one such example, where there could be ambiguity in the parsing:

  1. It would be good [for us to have a period on our own]. -- (infinitival with its own subject)

  2. It would be good [for us] [to have a period on our own]. -- (PP + to-infinitival)

The parse for version #1 has as its infinitival clause the expression "for us to have a period on our own", where the pronoun "us" is the subject of the infinitival clause.

The parse for version #2 has as its infinitival clause the expression "to have a period on our own", while the expression "for us" is a mere prepositional phrase that is not part of the infinitival clause.

This above example is borrowed from CGEL. The ambiguous parsing is explained in CGEL page 1183, footnote 8:

Examples like It would be good for us to have a period on our own are ambiguous according as for us is a PP dependent of good (cf. To have a period on our own would be good for us) or part of the to-infinitival (cf. For us to have a period on our own would be good).


CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

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    @Araucaria Here's an example of that ambiguous parsing that we were discussing the other day. (I think others can be found where the to-infinitival is an adjunct.) – F.E. Jan 22 '15 at 4:21
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    @Araucaria Yes, but their "for NP" is also a part of the infinitival, not a separate PP that's integrated into the main clause. – F.E. Jan 22 '15 at 16:56
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    Btw, the adverb + preposition combination thingie is just from memory, I'm only about 70% sure that's correct - maybe you could have a quick peek at H&P, if you aren't already ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 22 '15 at 17:27
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    OK, will do, that sounds like a good idea. But can't do right now - am being dragged off the computer and out the building! Will be tomorrow am, now - or I fully give you permission to put it in. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 22 '15 at 17:35
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    @Araucaria Here's an example which only allows a PP parse: "She did that [for him] [to prove to him that she wasn't jealous of his friends]", where the to-infinitival is an adjunct. – F.E. Jan 22 '15 at 19:58
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The structure you define 'For....to be considered' is a conditional structure which means you are defining the attributes that that thing must have to be considered something.

Now you want to remove for.... That's okay but then to retain the 'conditionality*, you'll have to introduce the conjunction for it -'if'.

For example:

For a laptop to be considered one of the best (ones), it'd need one of these features

Now removing for would also require to change the sentence structure to look natural

A laptop is considered the best if it has one of these features

I'd not use 'would' here because when you are firm to tell that one of those features will make a laptop the best in its category, we'll be more confident putting the present verb.

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  • I think you can consider when too, anyway +1 – Lucian Sava Jan 6 '15 at 6:59
  • yeah...that's right @LucianSava – Maulik V Jan 6 '15 at 7:00
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I think you can change the order of the sentence to:

To be considered raw, food must not have been heated over 46C.

To be considered as a suspect case of Ebola, a person...

To be seen as one of the best, a laptop would need... (I changed the verb to show the flexibility of this structure)

Basically, both are examples of using passive voice (http://www.edufind.com/english-grammar/passive-voice/) because we're interested in the object. (food, person, laptop as vs chef, virus, laptop-evaluator/you)

As for:

For {noun} to be {verb} {adjective}... {statement}

Because such assertions tend to be quite long, we want to put the object (what we are interested in) in front of the sentence to signify the important thing we are going to talk about. "For" gives us that function.

Also, I think pre-pending "For..." or "As for..." may serve as a kind of topic marker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topic_marker which doesn't naturally exist in English. Ie, "For FOOD to be considered..." as opposed to something else, eg, dirty clothes.

I may be off the mark here, happy for someone else to chime in.

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It is possible for a single mother.

What is possible for a single mother?

The answer to this question is - the mother to be accepted as a foster parent.

Now how will I add that information of that answer to the statement - It is possible for a single mother?

There are many ways to do that. One of the way is to use the for-to pattern like the following -

It is possible for a single woman to be accepted as a foster parent.

The structure for + noun/pronoun + infinitive is very common is English language. It's used when an infinitive needs its own subject. Compare -

Anna will be happy to help you. (Anna will help.)

Anna will be happy for the children to help you. (Anna will be happy for the children. The children will help.)

To ask Joe would be a big mistake.

For you to ask Joe would be a big mistake. (NOT You to ask Joe would be a big mistake)

Note that the subject of the infinitive is the object of the preposition for.

After some adjective, noun, and verb phrases, you use for to introduce the subject of the action indicated by the following infinitive verb.

It might be possible for a single woman to be accepted as a foster parent.

I had made arrangements for my affairs to be dealt with by one of my children.

He held out his glass for an old waiter to refill.

Please be careful here. I have mentioned some adjectives. Because there are some exceptions. We can't use all adjectives this way.

It's important for the meeting to start at eight.

We can use the adjective - important - this way, but we can't use the adjective - probable - this way.

It's probable for her to ....(This sentence is incorrect because we can't use probable in this pattern)

We normally don't use this for + noun/pronoun + infinitive pattern with verbs. But certain verbs that take for after that, allow this pattern after that.

Anne asked for the design to be ready by Friday.

I need for you to help me (This sentence is incorrect. The correct form is I need you to help me)

So far in all those example sentences, for + noun/pronoun + infinitive pattern came at the end of the sentence.

It is also possible for this pattern to come at the beginning of a sentence.

For her to lose the election would make me very happy.

This all explain your confusion about for + noun/pronoun + infinitive pattern.


Now back to your example sentences.

As for your second sentence it will be considered a bit wordy. The subject of the infinitive is redundant, as it refers back to the subjects of the sentences.

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