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For me to see it.
She spoke too fast for me to follow.
Минченков А. Г.
If we want to focus on the information expressed by the infinitive we can use it as the subject of a sentence:
• To speakto him about itwas something none of them would risk doing.
However, this use is considered to be formal in modern English. More common are structures in which the infinitive as the subject is introduced by It. It happens when:
a) nouns and adjectives are used predicatively and express one's opinion, recommendation or necessity. The adjectives used are:
careless (of smb)
characteristic (of smb)
decent (of smb) = 'nice', 'kind' reasonable
foolish (of smb)
The nouns used are semantically connected with the adjectives and include, for example, mistake, crime, offence, a good idea, pity,
• It would be curious to know the results.
• It was decent of her to drive me home.
• It is an offence to drop litter in the street.
• It would be a pity to miss such an opportunity.
• It would be worthwhile to start an investigation.
Sometimes a perfect infinitive is used here:
• It was stupid of you not to have accepted the offer.
• It was clever of him to have behaved like this.
b) we want to say what effect an experience has on somebody.
• It pleased him to think of his beloved.
• It shocked me to realize that.
c) we want to say what is necessary for a particular action or
• It took me an hour to get there.
• It will take years to repair it.
• It will cost millions to implement it.
If you want to emphasize the advantage of something the verb pay is used:
• Does it pay to be nice to them?
The infinitive can come after the link verb be:
• His only dream was to buy a car.
Very often the subject in this kind of sentence is an abstract noun and the infinitive serves to disclose its meaning. Sometimes the infinitive can be preceded by wh-words like where, who, what, etc:
• The difficulty was where to cross the river.Occasionally the verb mean is used instead of be:
• To act like that meant to destroy our friendship.
Минченков А. Г.
The infinitive can also be used as part of a predicative. In this case it modifies an adjective the meaning of which is not complete without the infinitive:
■ Granny was always hard to please.
1) If the verb in the infinitive form requires a preposition, the
• The bridge is dangerous to walk over.
The subject is never repeated after the preposition. It would be incorrect to say, for example, *The bridge is dangerous to walk over it.
2) In modern English we can find structures like:
• He is a brave man to do that.
• The boy is very sophisticated to know that.
• He will be crazy to go there.
In these examples the function of the infinitive is not very clear. From the point of view of structural similarity, we should treat them in the same way as the examples above. However, they are different semantically. The infinitive phrase gives the speaker's reason for the judgement given at the beginning of the sentence. From this point of view the function may be defined as the adverbial modifier of reason. This problem is open to discussion.
PART OF A COMPOUND VERBAL MODAL PREDICATE
The infinitive in this function comes after a modal verb:
• Ican swim.
• She may knowit.