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  1. #1
    viktorrija is offline Newbie
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    Lightbulb Use of infinitive

    Hello :)
    So i came across this sentence "What would a wife who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV say?."
    And now I wonder what kind of grammar structure is this ("comes to find")? May someone explain me why it's used here, and when this type of structures are used? Am I right saying that it's same as to say "comes and finds"?

  2. #2
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by viktorrija View Post
    Hello :)
    So i came across this sentence "What would a wife who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV say?."
    And now I wonder what kind of grammar structure is this ("comes to find")? May someone explain me why it's used here, and when this type of structures are used? Am I right saying that it's same as to say "comes and finds"?
    First of all, your sentence is interesting, but you shouldn't have focused on TO FIND.

    My opinion is that TO FIND sounds similar to ONLY TO DO SOMETHING, which is usually used to say something disappointing,

    eg She turned up the driveway, only to find her way blocked.

    On the other hand, you should've asked why the tenses are not consistent, which is my question and I hope a native English speaker can tell:

    What would a wife who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV say?

    Is it OK to use CAME?

  3. #3
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    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    Yes.
    Last edited by Grumpy; 08-Nov-2012 at 23:56.
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  4. #4
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    My opinion is that TO FIND sounds similar to ONLY TO DO SOMETHING, which is usually used to say something disappointing,
    Finding the husband in front of the TV and the dishes in the sink is disappointing.

    "Came home to find' is OK, but it describes a one time event in the past. "Comes home to find" describes the situation as it is happening but can also indicate a habitual action.

  5. #5
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    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    Another aspect of this is that the "say" is too far separated from "a wife". Better to phrase it as "What would a wife say if she came home to find....etc"
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  6. #6
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    anhnha is offline Member
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    "Came home to find' is OK, but it describes a one time event in the past. "Comes home to find" describes the situation as it is happening but can also indicate a habitual action.

    Does this also mean that "would" in the below sentence isn't the past form of "will"?
    What would a wife who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV say?

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by anhnha View Post
    Does this also mean that "would" in the below sentence isn't the past form of "will"?
    What would a wife who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV say?
    You're right. It's not the past tense of "will". It's a hypothetical present/future.

    The past form of "will" in that situation is "would have + verb".


    What would a wife [who came home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV] have said?
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,


    May I add my two cents to the excellent answers from all the other posters?

    1. As Grumpy brilliantly pointed out, let's push the verb to the front:

    a. What would a wife say who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her hubby watching TV?

    2. Now let's follow Nelson's great suggestion to add the word "only."

    a. What would a wife say who comes home only to find dirty dishes in the sink and her hubby watching TV?

    i. This construction (sentence type) of "only + to ___" is quite popular in American English. It usually indicates

    surprise. Here is a bad example of mine:

    I sat down on the sofa only to notice a large spider crawling on the wall.

    (a) Without "only," the sentence might mean that the purpose of my sitting down was so that I could notice the

    large spider. Of course, that was not the reason for my sitting down. (Actually, I sat down in order to read the

    newspaper, NOT in order to notice a spider on the wall!!!)


    James

  9. #9
    viktorrija is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Use of infinitive

    Hello again
    Thank you all for noticing the mistake in the sentence... Well I wrote it from memory and it was wrong.
    I just checked in the book, and the original was "A wife who comes home to find dirty dishes in the sink and her husband watching TV." But as i remembered it in my native language, i translated it wrong.
    Actually the only thin that bothered me was that "verb+to+verb" (when it's not about choosing between gerund/or infinitive). Because most of structures sound similar to my native language, so sometimes it's easy to understand, but this structure just caught my eye too many times.
    My opinion is that TO FIND sounds similar to ONLY TO DO SOMETHING, which is usually used to say something disappointing,

    eg She turned up the driveway, only to find her way blocked.
    this is the most understandable for me of all THANK YOU A LOT.
    a. What would a wife say who comes home only to find dirty dishes in the sink and her hubby watching TV?

    i. This construction (sentence type) of "only + to ___" is quite popular in American English. It usually indicates

    surprise. Here is a bad example of mine:

    I sat down on the sofa only to notice a large spider crawling on the wall.

    (a) Without "only," the sentence might mean that the purpose of my sitting down was so that I could notice the

    large spider. Of course, that was not the reason for my sitting down. (Actually, I sat down in order to read the

    newspaper, NOT in order to notice a spider on the wall!!!)
    This one was good too, just that "only" in the sentence doesn't sound naturally for me as it seems that you say. ;)
    Thank you all anyway!

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