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We can use "for...to" construction with many adjectives.

I am happy for you to be admitted to college.

I am glad for you to have finally found a job.

I am willing for you to go ahead and try it.

I am honored for my son to receive the award.

So I thought this construction can be used with EVERY adjective that can take to-infinitive as an adjective complement. But it doesn't seem like it.

*I am sad for you to do it.

*I am afraid for you to try it.

Even though these two adjectives can take to-infinitive as an adjective complement, it sounds strange when I use "for" to introduce a new subject of the infinitive.

Why can some of the adjectives have "for...to" construction and introduce a new subject of the infinitive while the some can't? And is there a category of adjectives that are able or prohibited to have this construction?

  • The only one of those I would use is I am willing for you to go ahead and try it.. The others I would rephrase, such as: I am glad you finally got a job and I'm happy that you were admitted to college. This doesn't answer the question, which is why I have written a comment. Note that willing talks about a person's will, not a feeling. – Alan Carmack Jul 13 '16 at 19:01
  • @AlanCarmack Would you say that the four sentences I provided are ungrammatical? I myself don't use it for..to construction very often and lean more towards using that-clause. But I found many people using the construction, so I became curious. – whitedevil Jul 13 '16 at 19:05
  • I dunno. I'm afraid for you to try it doesn't sound too bad to me. Is there a webpage or other resource that you were looking at reharding this construction? – Alan Carmack Jul 13 '16 at 19:13
  • @AlanCarmack englishforums.com/English/IAfraidDo/bwbpbq/post.htm This guy says it's downright wrong. When I hear "afraid for you to", it sounds very strange to me. – whitedevil Jul 13 '16 at 19:39
  • As far as basic grammar (spelling and parts of speech) is concerned, they are OK. But the last two don't make any sense in context. For example, when you match emotions (sad/afraid) with actions (do/try) it does not make sense. If you believe they do, add detailed context as to what is happening around the statement. – user3169 Jul 13 '16 at 21:10
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If one finds

I am happy for you to go to college

felicitous, then I can see no reason for that same person to judge

I am sad for you to go to college

infelicitous. People may not say it, but this does not mean it is an invalid structure.

I also disagre with whoever said

I am afraid for you to try it

is not felicitous, because quick internet searches show that

to be afraid for someone to-do something to be in use. See, for example, searches for

afraid for you to
afraid for him to
afraid for her to, etc.

This is the same structure as

I am anxious for you to go to college

which is felicitous.

As for the for...to construction, it is debatable whether for here is a complementizer (see Modality and Subordinators).

Also, while there are many for...to constructions judged to be felicitous, there are many that I would not say.

For example:

I want for you to do that.

sounds incredibly stilted and/or the product of a linguist in an ivory tower, whereas

I want you to do that.

(omitting for) sounds natural.

I would never say

??He spoke louder for me to hear

even though the following parallel construction is fine:

He moved over for me to get past.

As for as the adjectives you ask about, I suppose many are in the ear of the speaker... As I said, I have no problem with

I am willing for you to go ahead and try it.

but I don't like

? I am honored for my son to receive the award.

I would rather use

I am honored for my son to have received the award.

In general, the for-to construction seems hit or miss for me, even when judged felicitous by others, including linguists.

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