But Stephen, who is not a scientist, had his family’s genomes sequenced and worked with geneticist Ryan Taft at the University of Queensland in Australia to identify a mutated gene. Taft linked the gene to a class of neurodegenerative disorders involving the myelin sheath, which protects neurons. Nature

Can this to be interpreted as "and identified a mutated gene..."? As in

He came home to find his mother dead?

3 Answers 3


The use of the word 'to' implies a stronger connection between the 'working' and the 'identifying'; the identification is a (possible) result of the work done.

Compare the following sentences:

He worked hard to solve the problem.

He worked hard and solved the problem.

The first sentence does not imply that he actually solved the problem, only that he worked very hard on it.

The second sentence could be used to describe a situation like this:

He worked hard, and solved the problem eventually, because he found the solution on StackExchange.

  • In fact, he worked to identify the gene does not necessarily imply that he actually did identify the gene, only that he tried to do so. Sep 6, 2015 at 20:44

Both of your tos act as infinitive markers; but the two clauses which these infinitives head are used very differently.

  • In the first sentence, the clause designates the purpose for which the genetic work was carried out: identifying a mutant gene.

    Thomas went home to change his clothes.
    We were marching to protest the government's action.

  • In the second sentence, the clause designates the situation into which the subject has entered. This construction has a telic verb in the main clause—a verb which implies a change of state at the end of the verb's action—and a verb of perception or discovery in the infinitive whose object is the situation.

    Thomas arrived home to see his front door wide open and the house robbed.
    We marched to the square to discover the police waiting for us in riot gear.


The "to" in "to indentify" is an infinitive marker. There is no need to try to impute (or to work to identify) any other meaning.

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