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There is a sentence which my Canadian professor today talked about.

1-) I see no reason to do these stupid things.

The Canadian English professor at the university said that we could put the part "to do..." at the beginning in order to emphasize what made us angry, why we were angry.

2-) To do these stupid things, I see no reason! (I see no reason. For what? To do these stupid things!)

I found the sentence above to be unusual and asked my British teacher that question. He also agreed with my professor and said:"Those sentences are OK even though they are not very natural."

So they agreed with each other but I still want to ask you why the example 2 is correct grammatically/theoretically? (After my objection,

He also said:" We say: "We are too late to do something", but, do we have to put "to do smt" at the end? No, we don't. To emphasize for what you are late, you can say: "To do something, we are too late!" "

Thanks!

  • Not even close to natural. They must be thinking of infinitives as subjects: To die for one's country is sweet and right. Or instructions: To bake a cake, start with flour and eggs. The two examples given in the question cannot be put in that order without serious wincing. P.S. This would be better asked at English Language Learning Stack Exchange. – Luke Sawczak Jun 5 '18 at 12:47
  • I think that the problem here is about how many usages infinitives have. Infinitives don't just give purposes or define nouns or function as subjects. We can also use them instead of "for". For what don't you see any reason/ What don't you see any reason to do? To do these stupid things! It can function as an adverbial at that sentence and as you know, adverbials can be located at the beginning. I think that's why my professors(British and Canadian) said: "They are OK". – Jawel Jun 5 '18 at 12:56
  • There are indeed many uses, but it can't function as an adverbial in that position. It sounds awful. As for fragmentary answers to questions, even in the example you gave you wouldn't repeat "to do" in the answer. – Luke Sawczak Jun 5 '18 at 13:33
  • @LukeSawczak Well, In order to figure out with what function it functions, I am going to ask a question. Can we say that this question is correct in English? (For what do you see no reason?) or (What do you see no reason to do?) – Jawel Jun 5 '18 at 13:44
  • Those are both syntactically correct (and have different meanings). – Luke Sawczak Jun 5 '18 at 14:01
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Shifting a word or clause to the beginning of a sentence is a way to add extra emphasis on the said word/clause. That's what happens when instead of writing:

He had no sooner arrived than the journalists bombarded him with questions

you choose to write

No sooner had he arrived...

It is the specific, implicit rhetorical intention which justifies such sentences as : - To do such a thing would be a great mistake. Remember your Shakespeare : To be or not to be, that is the question. Apart from that (and the expression of purpose, as said above by Luke) the only way of justifying "To do such things, I see no reason" is to regard the second clause as "second thought", an addition, "improvised" half-way through after a "false start".

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  • It seems like the difference between "Some opportunities exist to get a better education" and "Some opportunities to get a better education exist." What I think of is that there is sometimes a fine line between its adverbial usage and adjectival usage. I believe that those two sentences above work and they have slightly different meanings. – Jawel Jun 5 '18 at 14:21

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