General Writing and Grammar Help/parsing

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QUESTION: Dear Ted,

Can you please help me parse the following sentence:
“In English,  a verb is used to express action.”

I am especially dumbfounded about how to parse “to express”.

As always, thank you very much for your help.

Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich:

Can you please help me parse the following sentence:
“In English,  a verb is used to express action.”

I am especially dumbfounded about how to parse “to express”. [PERIOD GOES INSIDE QUOTATION MARK]

***

subject = verb
verb = is used
adverbial infinitive phrase = to express action  ["action" is the object of the infinite "to express."

It is an adverbial phrase, because it answers the question HOW?

Ted



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Ted,

Thank you, once again, for your help!!  It is very much appreciated!!!

I've been thinking about this sentence for days now and am still a bit confused.

It would help if you would please help me to parse the words within this adverbial infinitive phrase.

Is the infinitive - "to express" being used as an adverb?

And, just to make sure I understand - Can an infinitive that is being used as an adverb have an object?

Thank you

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich:

It would help if you would please help me to parse the words within this
adverbial infinitive phrase.

Is the infinitive - "to express" being used as an adverb?

And, just to make sure I understand - Can an infinitive that is being used as an
adverb have an object?

*** I did parse the words within the adverbial infinitive phrase.  Here is what I wrote to
you:

subject = verb
verb = is used
adverbial infinitive phrase = to express action  ["action" is the object of the infinite "to express."

It is an adverbial phrase, because it answers the question HOW?


*** The infinitive itself is "to express."  The noun "action" is the object of the infinitive "to express."

And, yes, infinitive phrases can be used as adverbs, as I stated "It is an adverbial phrase, because it answers the question HOW"?

Infinitive phrases can also be used as nouns and adjectives.

She wanted TO LOOK PRETTY.  [Infinitive phrase is used as a noun -- the direct object of the verb "wanted."]

TO ERR is human.  [Infinitive phrase is used as a noun -- the subject of the verb "is."]

They allowed their home TO DETERIORATE.  [Infinitive phrase is used as an adjective.  It is a "deteriorating home."]

Here is an example from Purdue University's Online Writing Laboratory [OWL]:

I have a paper to write before class.

The infinitive phrase functions as an adjective modifying paper.
to write (infinitive)
before class (prepositional phrase as adverb)

Here is an adverbial example from the English grammar site "chompchomp" --

Kelvin, an aspiring comic book artist, is taking Anatomy and Physiology this semester to understand the interplay of muscle and bone in the human body.

To understand the interplay of muscle and bone in the human body functions as an adverb because it explains why Kelvin is taking the class

Here are useful sites to visit:

http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/infinitivephrase.htm

http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000078.htm

http://www.testyourenglish.net/english-online/subjects/infin.html

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/03/


Good luck.

Ted  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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