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General Writing and Grammar Help/Can you parse this expression?


"To read" in "This is not the book to read."

You'll probably agree that this is representative of a fairly common construction. I'm aware that "to read" is an infinitive verb. What is the grammatical function of that infinitive in this sentence? How does "to read" fit grammatically with the rest of the sentence?

(This is not a homework question. I'm a mature man with a lifelong interest in English grammar. I very likely knew the answer to this question in earlier days, but not now--so I'm hoping you will help.)

Dear Richard,

Absolutely. A fine reason.

As you know, "to read" is an infinitive. In this case, "to read" is functioning as an adjective, as in "what kind of book?/the kind to read."

To be precise, a demonstrative pronoun serves as an expletive ("This") with a linking verb ("is") to the object ("book") with a verbal infinitive acting as an adjective ("to read").

A refreshing question. I hope that serves.



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Gina Vallis, Ph.D.


Any question regarding semiotics. Word-usage and etymology. Specialize in rhetoric, linguistic philosophy, and critical theory


10+ years professor writing, rhetoric, English.

Book: Reason to Write: Applying Critical Thinking to Academic Writing Article in Press, Pedagogy Duke University Press, etc.


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