McGonagall transfigured the chessmen to make them alive.
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Is the infinitive the result of the previous act or the object of it?
Dictionaries say that transfigure means "to change the appearance of something or someone" (Merriam-Webster), "to change the appearance of a person or thing so that they look more beautiful" (OALD). Does the sentence mean McGonagall just changed the appearances of chessmen that are already alive, or does the word means "changing the property of something"?

1 Answer 1


In that case, the infinitive is used to express purpose or intention.

I set out to buy food.

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Transfigure means "transform into something more beautiful or elevated"; since the subject of the sentence is chessmen (an object) and the sentence ends with "to make them alive," the transformation to something more elevated is evident: The transfiguration changed something unanimated into something able to move, or changed an object into a living being. (Which exactly is the case should be clear from the sentences before or after that.)

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