1. To look at him, you'd never think he was 80.
  2. To turn off mobile data, multimedia messages will be unavailable.

The first one seems okay.

But the second one seems bit odd.

I checked on Grammar correction and it says no errors for both of them.

Is the second sentence grammatically correct?

If not, please let me know what the difference between those two sentences is.

1 Answer 1


These sentences are really quite different, despite having a similar construction. . The first one uses the phrase "To look at..." in an idiomatic way and it means "If you look at this person/thing, you will form an opinion about them/it based on their appearance, which is likely to be incorrect". It is nearly always followed by a second clause, which describes the attribute that you are likely to misjudge. In the given example, it means that he does not look 80. Other example are:

"To look at her, you'd never guess that she can run a 5-minute mile"

"To look at him, you'd never guess that he's a famous model"

"To look at it, you'd never guess that this is a championship-winning race car"

These types of sentences can be written as :

"You would not guess that she can run a 5-minute mile by looking at her" etc.

The second sentence, whilst the meaning is clear, is not good English. It can be re-written as follows:

To turn off mobile data will result in multimedia messages being unavailable.

but better still is:

Turning off mobile data will result in...

  • My god. Thank you very much!! So the second sentence is grammatically wrong, right?
    – John Kim
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:43
  • 2
    Yes. If you start your sentence with the infinitive of a verb ("To turn off, to go to, to talk to etc etc") you then expect the rest of the sentence to describe how to perform that action "To do this, you have to do that". The "to look at..." is an exception and idiomatic, unless you use it like this "To look at the Eiffel Tower, you'll need binoculars" (because you are far away), when it is just like any other "to do this, you have to do that" expression.
    – Steve Ives
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 11:49
  • Okay, so the way it is accepted is that it is idomatic. Thank you!
    – John Kim
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 12:09

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