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Thread: Do is ...

  1. #1
    notletrest is offline Senior Member
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    Default Do is ...

    According to a Chinese scholar of English,"An infinitive without to as the completement of subject can be in the front of a sentence, for example, Die is the last thing I shall do, doctor." (NG1493)
    Hence comes the one by me , "Swim is I want to learn this summer."
    What do you think of the two?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Do is ...

    They're not the same:
    The last thing I shall do is die
    I want to learn is swim

  3. #3
    notletrest is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Do is ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    They're not the same:
    The last thing I shall do is die
    I want to learn is swim
    I agree with you. The Chinese scholar's example is right. But his conclusion is wrong. So I made a wrong sentence by purpose to illustrate his conclusion is not right.
    Thanks!

  4. #4
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Do is ...

    But his conclusion (by which, I presume, you mean his analysis) is quite correct. Provided you begin with a grammaticallly acceptable sentence in which a bare infinitive stands as subject complement (such as The last thing I shall do is die), that infinitive can indeed be fronted for emphasis.

    The problem with your example is that, as other contributors have indicated, it originated from a non-sentence (*I want to learn is swim).
    The problem lies therefore, not in his analysis, but in your own attempt to apply it.

    I would suggest that the root of your confusion is simply lack of awareness of the rules that permit the formation of a sentence such as

    The last thing I shall do is die.

    in the first place, where omission of 'to' is either optional, or (as here) obligatory. The possibility of fronting is, by comparison, a minor issue.

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