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    #1

    'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    In the sentence: He stopped to smoke.Is "to smoke" an infinitive, or is "to" acting as a preposition?"Smoke" here is clearly a verb even though "smoke" can also happen to be a noun. And prepositions must be followed by nouns, so this "to" cannot be a preposition.Still, here "to" seems to have the meaning of "for the purpose of ~ing" which seems fundamentally different from the "to + verb" (infinitive) as in:She likes to swim. (there is no meaning of "for the purpose of") here.Any explanation or references you could provide to enlighten me would be wholeheartedly appreciated.

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    #2

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    It's a way of marking the infinitive form of the subsequent verb.

    In EFL, we call to smoke a to-infinitive form. These forms can, but do not always have the usage of expressing purpose, in which case they are called infinitives of purpose.

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    #3

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    And this does not mean that he quit smoking. It means that he stopped one thing, like his work, in order to smoke.

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    And this does not mean that he quit smoking. It means that he stopped one thing, like his work, in order to smoke.
    And to add to the topic, concludig -- if you oyatsu meant 'ending an action', then you'd say: He stopped smoking.

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    #5

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    I think 'to smoke' acts as a noun, the direct object of 'stopped', as the gerund 'smoking' is the direct object in the above post.
    Not a teacher.

    Additional question:

    He stopped smoking. (smoking acting as a noun (direct object).

    He stopped to smoke. (to smoke acting as an adverb, describing why he stopped)

    As in:

    The officer returned to help the inspectors. (the infinitive phrase 'to help the inspectors' should also be acting as adverb)

    Please apoligise for that probably unqualified additional comment/question.

    Thanks in advance!

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    #6

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Hi Matthew Wai. I sort of know where you're coming from, but I have to disagree with you on that. Smoking is the object in He stopped smoking, but to smoke is not in He stopped to smoke. So basically, it cannot be a noun either. Performing a simple test, you can determine the function of the elements in the sentence -- in a passive sentence, active objects can function as passive subjects, so technically it is possible to say:
    Smoking was stopped by him

    but you definitely cannot say:
    To smoke was stopped by him.

    That's how I see it, anyway.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Having read the above post, I think 'to smoke' acts as an adverb modifying 'stopped', which is intransitive in this context.

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Hi Matthew Wai. I sort of know where you're coming from
    You must have clicked on 'Member Info' under my username.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #8

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    You must have clicked on 'Member Info' under my username.
    No, I promise I did not. I was merely expressing my understanding for your reasoning.

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    #9

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Hedgehog View Post
    Please apoligise for that probably unqualified additional comment/question.
    I think you meant to say 'I apologize' instead of asking someone to apologize.

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Hi Matthew Wai. I sort of know where you're coming from
    Now I think you meant to say 'I sort of know where your idea is coming from'.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: 'He stopped to smoke.' Is 'to' a preposition or part of an infinitive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    Now I think you meant to say 'I sort of know where your idea is coming from'.
    Yes, that's another way you can put it.

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